Marking the end of an Eight Year Venture, or, My Final Post

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 2, 2015 08:39am | Post a Comment
This is my last dispatch for the Amoeblog.

Eric Brightwell

I started blogging for Amoeblog on 26 July 2007. In that time I created a few series for the Amoeblog: One Album Wonders (profiles of bands which only released one album), Brightwell's Top 10 (my favorite tracks from the dawn of the record industry to the present), and Introduction to Subcultural Anthropology, to name a few. I may or may not continue those over at my personal website, so stay tuned and let me know if you're interested.

In the last eight years I've written extensively about holidays, all-female bands, Asian-American Cinemamusic history, interplanetary objects, New Orleans hip-hop, Vietnamese New Wave, visual arts, unrecognized nations, old time radio, film festivals, and many other topics... such as creamsicles

At my own website I have several other columns which have less to do with music or film than those which I created for the Amoeblog. But because this is the Amoeblog, I'll include a few relevant songs. Those columns are:

Huell Howser had California's Gold, in which he explored the non-"Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" side of California. In homage I named my explorations California Fool's Gold... not "California's Fool's Gold" because that's too possessive. My focus, too, is more on neighborhoods and communities and less on plastic food or dog's eating avocados. 

Tom Waits's "In the Neighborhood"



Discussions of adaptive reuse tend to focus on office buildings converted into residences... but what about fast food franchises converted into actual restaurants? 

Denim's "Brumburger"


The streets are one of our greatest public assets. I walk them, I read them, I rep them. 


B.G. - "Where You Been?" 


Los Angeles and the Southland is like a sea of suburbs punctuated by pockets of skyscrapers -- oh yeah, and mountains. I love a good skyscraper... and a bad one.

Suede's "High Rising"


According to the 2010 Census, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim urban area is the most densely populated in the US. That's largely on account of the regions housing projects, bungalow courts, garden apartments, luxury highrises, and other multi-family residences. 

DJ Jubilee's "20 Years in the Jets"


Malls and strip malls are overabundant and unromanticized -- except by the developers who give them lofty, pretentious names.. In Los Angeles they were once the fabled haunts of Valley Girls. Nowadays they're where one finds the best restaurants and markets. 

Supermarket's "Supermarket"


When people talk about vertical cities they usually point to ones with the most skyscrapers. How 19th century of them. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has -- thanks to its hills and mountains -- the most varied elevation of any city on earth. Take that Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, and Tehran!

Some dwarves singing "The Misty Mountains Cold"


Los Angeles is, by several measures, the most diverse city on Earth. That diversity is reflected in the presence of Cambodia Town, Chinatown, Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Arabia, Little Armenia, Little Bangladesh, Little Brazil, Little Central America, Little Ethiopia, Little India, Little Russia, Little Saigon, Little Seoul, Little Osaka, Tehrangeles, and Thai Town. It's also home to the largest population of Burmese, Guatemalans, Mexicans, Salvadorans, Samoans, and Taiwanese outside their home countries, in addition to many other ethnicities not represented with an enclave. 

Some people in an advertisement singing "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)"


Nobody drives in LA, there's too much traffic. Why would anyone when there are buses, commuter trains, ferries, light rail, bicycle lanes, kayaks, subways, trails, and about 284 days of sun? Cars are for country folk!

Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express"


Perhaps it's only because I've never worked in one but I find those shiny, generic, suburban cubicle farms sat on vast, sparingly designed landscapes to be deeply mysterious and absolutely fascinating for reasons which are hard to articulate.


Bill Lumbergh montage from Office Space

Los Angeles is the world’s great Pan-Asian Metropolis. In Los Angeles, Asians and Pacific Islanders comprise more than 15% of population and are the most numerous racial minority and the fastest growing. Recognized Asian ethnic enclaves include Cambodia Town, Chinatown, Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Bangladesh, Little India, Little Osaka, Little Saigon, Little Seoul, Little Tokyo, and Thai Town. The Los Angeles urban area home to the largest population of Cambodians, Filipinos, Koreans, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese outside of their respective home countries. There are large populations Bangla, Chinese, Indians, Japanese, Pakistanis, and Samoans; and substantial but diffuse populations of Afghanis, Bhutanese, Burmese, Hawaiians, Hmong, Indonesians, Laotians, Malaysians, Mongolians, Nepalis, Singaporeans, Sri Lankans, Tibetans, Tongans, Uyghurs, and Uzbeks.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography

In the course of my explorations, I draw and paint maps. You can purchase prints of them from 1650 Gallery (or originals from me). 

Los Angeles has been home to a number of industries. Most of those industries have left and we're left with a lot of industrial ruins and refineries. Although they have wrought a lot of environmental devastation, they're often quite beautiful. 

The trailer for Il Deserto Rosso


Los Angeles is home to the largest park located partially within an American city (Topanga State Park), the nation's largest municipal park (Griffith Park) and a whole lot of other parks, recreation areas, wilderness areas, parklets, and pocket parks.

The Small Faces' "Itchycoo Park"



In which I explore drinking holes of all kinds, whether alehouses
biker bars
bikini bars, bodegas, booking clubs, breweries, cantinas, cider housescocktail lounges, coffee bars, dives, fern barsgasthauses, gay bars, gin mills, hostess bars, honky-tonks, izakaya, juiceries, lingerie cafesnightclubs, pi-jiu wu, piano bars, pubs, rathskellers, roadhouses, saloons, singles barsspeakeasies, taprooms, taverns, tea houses, tiki bars, wineries, and maybe even sports bars.

California's most recognized icon might be San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. However, the Los Angeles area is home to hundreds of equally interesting bridges which span valleys, roads, creeks, rivers, train tracks, and troubled waters.

James Brown's "Sex Machine"

Los Angeles is often wrongly characterized as a desert. That mischaracterization downplays the importance of wetlands, rivers, oceans, and other bodies of water that are so important to the Chaparral metropolis. 

There are quite a few famous trees in California, including the tallest, the largest, the oldest, and the most photographed. In Los Angeles there are some famous ones too. Come to think of it, People or Us Weekly should do an issue on "celeb trees."

Pulp - "The Trees"

The best sorts of walks are undertaken without much research or agenda. I notice an interesting area and then I let my nose, eyes, and ears lead my feet.

Alan Partridge's Country Ramble


Sometimes I found myself traveling outside of Southern California. When I do it's never long enough to get a really deep sense of a place so I like to treat my reflections on these places as snapshots.

Glenn Miller And His Orchestra
featuring Ray Eberle ‎– "Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread)"

Alan the Dingus
Also, my Siberian cat, Alan, has a Tumblr, titled What a Dingus!


So as a final note I'd like to say thanks for reading, commenting, the free tickets, and the email, and please continue to keep in touch at my website, Sgt. Brightwellicus signing off!

The Ultimate One Album Wonders Directory

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 23, 2015 08:59am | Post a Comment

The vinyl LP was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948 but the 45 inch single remained the primary media for recorded music until 1966, when LPs overtook them, marking the dawn of the Album Era.
For a variety of reasons, many bands of the Album Era only released one full-length LP, making them “one album wonders.” 

I began the series, One Album Wonders, in July 2014 (the year digital downloads first overtook aluminum discs in sales) and since then have written of about 60 bands whose recorded output was mostly confined to a single album. I had planned on writing about hundreds more but the plug has been pulled so I’ve decided instead to publish my personally compiled directory of them before my time at Amoeba ends in December. Enjoy! 


A Passing Fancy (A Passing Fancy - 1968), A Witness (I Am John’s Pancreas - 1986), A-II-Z (The Witch Of Berkeley - Live - 1980), A'La Rock (Indulge - 1990), Aceium (Wicked Metal - 2004), The Aerovons (Resurrection - 2003), The Affair (Yes Yes To You - 2006), Afterlife (Surreality - 1992), Agentz (Stick to Your Guns - 1986), Aidean (Promises - 1988), Alamo (Alamo - 1970), Alien (Cosmic Fantasy - 1983), Alien (The Pleasure of Leisure - 1998), Alistair Terry (Yonge at Heart - 1985), Alkana (Welcome to My Paradise - 1978), Alkatraz (Doing a Moonlight - 1976), Allen Collins Band (Here, There and Back - 1983), Alliance (We Could Get Used To This - 1988), Alonzo Cruz (Blind Troubador of Oaxaca - 1956), Alpha Centauri (Alpha Centauri - 1977), American Noise (American Noise - 1980), Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe - 1989), The Animated Egg (The Animated Egg - 1967), Andy Rock (Into the Night - 2012), Annihilation Absolute (Cities - 1985), April 16th (Sleepwalking - 1989), Arcadia (So Red the Rose - 1985), Armageddon (Illusion - 1971), Arzachel (Arzachel - 1969), ATC (Planet Pop - 2000), Avalanche (Pray For The Sinner - 1985), Aviator (Aviator - 1986), The Awful Truth (The Awful Truth - 1990), and Axtion (Look Out for the Night - 1985)

Continue reading...

They Sing Sea Songs Down by the Seashore -- Vegetarian Sea Shanties of a Sort

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 17, 2015 09:03am | Post a Comment

Their Only Harvest by Colin Hunter (1879)

I wrote a guide to sea vegetables over at my blog. As a companion piece here at the Amoeblog, I thought I’d compile a guide to modern day sea shanties by vegetarian (or former vegetarian, in some cases) songwriters or bands with vegetarian members.

Seaweed Gatherers (1926) by Harold Harvey 

Belle & Sebastian - “Ease Your Feet in the Sea”

Blur - "This is a Low"

Bob Marley And The Wailers - “High Tide Or Low Tide”

The Church - “An Interlude”

Coldplay - “Oceans”

Crime & the City Solution - "The Dolphins & the Sharks”

Eden Ahbez - “Nature Boy”

George Harrison - “Pisces Fish”

Hà Okio - “Bi?n Xanh Và N?ng Vàng”

??? - "??"

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - “World of Denial”

John Coltrane - “How Deep is the Ocean?”

k.d. lang - “Love's Great Ocean”

Kate Bush - “A Coral Room”

Kevin Eubanks - “The Dancing Sea”

King Missile - “The Fish That Played The Ponies”

Kula Shaker - “Drop in the Sea”

Morrissey - “Seasick Yet Still Docked”

Natalie Merchant - “Diver Boy” 

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - “The Weeping Song”

???????? - “Ocean of Love”

Paul McCartney - “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”

Pearl Jam - “Oceans”

Peter Tosh - “Downpressor Man”

Philip Glass - “Winnie Goes to the Sea”

R.E.M. - "Nightswimming"

Reid Jamieson - “Take Me To The Sea”

Rita Lee - “Hulla-Hulla”

Robyn Hitchcock - “Autumn Sea”

The Style Council - “Its A Very Deep Sea”

Thompson Twins - “Storm on the Sea”

TLC - “I'm Good at Being Bad”

The Verve - “The Sun, The Sea”

Ama harvesting seaweed by Yoshiyuki Iwase 

Honorable Mention (i.e. no video found): Elvis Costello - “King of the Unknown Sea” and Percy Grainger

"Sea Song (Grettir the Strong)

Continue reading...

Eurodisco Legends Joy Are Coming to Orange County

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 9, 2015 03:21pm | Post a Comment
Joy Hello

group Joy are scheduled to perform live in Santa Ana on 5 December (Saint Nicholas Eve/Krampusnacht) at the Yost Theater. They will perform hits including “Touch By Touch,” “Hello,” “Japanese Girls,” “Valerie,” “Im In Love,” “Countdown of Love,” and more. Buy tickets now as there are only 1,000 and they’re going fast.

Joy were formed by three friends living in the small town of Bad Aussee: Andy Schweitzer, Manfred Temmel, and Freddy Jaklitsch. After school, the three pursued careers for a few years; Schweitzer as a policeman, Jaklitsch as a history teacher, and Temmel as a DJ at Orion, a disco in Traunreut, Germany. The three formed Joy in 1984 and signed with Viennese label OK Musica, who Michael Scheickl to work with the group. Scheickl had been involved with One Family, an successful Austrian rock band which formed in 1969, and later the duo Mess

One Album Wonders: Mad Season

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 2, 2015 02:31pm | Post a Comment

The Scientists were likely both grunge's inventors and the genre's first supergroup (members had previously played in Cheap Nasties, Slick City Boys, and Victims). However, if one hears “grunge supergroup” they more likely think of Temple of the Dog, a one album wonder the members of which had previously played in Seattle grunge bands including Soundgarden, Green River, and Skin Yard (as well as the not-really-grunge one album wonders Mother Love Bone and not-at-all Seattle - since they were from San Diego - Bad Radio). Mad Season, when they're remembered, are that other grunge supergroup. 
Mad Season's Above

Mad Season arrived pretty late on the scene, toward the end of 1994. In April of that year, Kurt Cobain had killed himself but alternative and music had by then long ceased to be anything remotely underground and was resolutely mainstream. In 1992, MTV had replaced 120 Minutes host Dave Kendall with, Lewis Largent and the program, which had previously showcased a host of bands playing diverse music became a parade of bands whose members dressed like Largent, in shorts, combat boots, flannel, and backwards baseball cap. If that wasn't mainstream enough, MTV also launched the ironically named Alternative Nation as a showcase for the manufactured corporate guitar rock favored by soulful dudebros (eg Candlebox and Stone Temple Pilots).

In 1993 Marc Jacobs had served up grunge realness on the catwalk for Perry Ellis -- five years after Martin Margiela had pretty much done the same thing, serving up a fantasy of homeless fashion for the one percent. By 1994 pre-ripped jeans and combat boots were part of a uniform adopted by the knavescene and celebrities like Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, and Keanu Reeves. Their female counterparts, such as emaciated supermodel Kate Moss,  were used to promote heroin chic. After not having heard any interesting new American rock in what seemed like forever, I gave up on it. I would hear the names of new bands, including Toadies, Seven Mary Three, Sky Cries Mary, Jars of Clay, Primitive Radio Gods, Eels, DC Talk, Duncan Sheik, Sister Hazel, Local H, and more. All would have their champions but like every Steven Spielberg movie since Raiders of the Lost Ark, if I gave any a chance I'd almost certainly be underwhelmed. 


Mad Season were one of those bands I was aware of but never heard the music of (until now). I was familiar with the most of members’ respective bands. Barrett Martin (drums) came from Screaming Trees, a psychedelia-tinged grunge act that I appreciated. Layne Staley was from Alice In Chains. He had an interesting voice, although Jerry Cantrell wrote that band's best songs. Mike McCready was a guitarist in Pearl Jam, a band whose first record I’d connected with when I lived on an Iowa hog farm and they were an actual alternative to the Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Billy Ray Cyrus, and conservative classic rock playlist of KGGO that seemingly sustained my classmates. John Baker Saunders had played in a bunch of blues bands but after the end of Mad Season would play in the sometimes excellent Seattle (and not-at-all-grunge) band, The Walkabouts.

Saunders and McCready met whilst kicking heroin at a Minneapolis rehab facility. Upon returning to Seattle they formed a band with Martin and, after working on a couple of songs, brought in singer Staley, still very much in the throes of his own dope addiction, which ultimately killed him. They wrote a batch of songs quickly, rehearsed twice, played four shows and cranked out Above in just over a week in the studio. Given their respective bands, that Above is steeped in ‘70s arena rock theatrics comes as no surprise. Despite the guitar licks and solos, there are no real anthems though, or even especially memorable tunes. 

Martin adds nice bits of color with occasional double bass, cello, marimba, and vibraphone but the songs get by more on groove than melody. There's less color to the lyrics, however, which are relentlessly serious and unceasingly hopeless. Allmusic’s allstar reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine astutely observed that the album, “sounds like a cross between Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam.”

Above was Top 40 — it reached 24 and produced two expectedly nihilistically-toned singles, “River of Deceit” and “Don't Know Anything” but it wasn't apparently intended as anything more than a sidegig and after the album's release, the members returned to their day jobs. Attempts were made to revive the band but Staley’s addiction had worsened his health to the point where his involvement was impossible. Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan, who’d contributed vocals on several tracks on Above, took over lead vocals and the four continued as Disinformation. Disinformation began working on an album but when Saunders died of a heroin overdose in 1999, the band was again on hiatus. When Staley died in 2002 it seemed likely the end of Mad Season but in 2012 the surviving members (and Lanegan) joined Loaded singer Jeff Rouse and bassist Rick Friel to play once again. In an interview on Louisville’s WFPK McCready claimed that Mad Season were at work on a new album. However, when Above was re-released in 2013 it included five unreleased tracks from the unreleased second album and a disc of live material, and that was apparently the end of Mad Season.

The members of Mad Season’s primary bands were certainly influential on a quite a few bands but I've never heard anyone cite Mad Season as an influence. A search online of bands influenced by Mad Season led me to the Werehouse music website, which suggested Godsmack, Sinch, Creed, and 3 Doors Down. I’m not sure if Mad Season can be blamed for any of those (and I’ve never heard Sinch, who might be excellent for all I know) but I do blame Staley in part for the resurgence of the topknot. Ever since the 1970s there’s been a twenty year revival cycle and like clockwork, twenty years after Staley started rocking that ridiculous ‘do, a Pinterest memo went out to the world’s conformists alerting them that it was time to grow out their hipsterjugend 'dos into that most unflattering of hairstyles and within a fortnight the unflattering coiffure was being donned by the likes of Colin Farrell, Mr. Posh Spice (David Beckham) and every insufferable, pretentious bartender who wants to be referred to as a "mixologist." 


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