Shopping Your Record Collection

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 14, 2011 10:10am | Post a Comment

I am not one to discourage anyone from buying vinyl, but every once in a while, when the funds are low and you get that itch to dig for records around the city, it's time to reevaluate priorities. Will it be records or paying the rent? Will it be saving money to travel or building the ultimate record collection? At some point in any sane collector’s mind, a voice should come into your head that says, “Slow down!” Really, unless you are someone like DJ Shadow, who makes a living by playing and sampling his entire record collection, every once in a while, you've got to slow your roll.

Clothing shopaholics are told to dig through their own closets rather than to shop for more clothes. Most of the time, they will have clothes that still have the price tag on them and have never been worn. It’s called “shopping your closet.” It saves you money and gives you the same kick that you’d get from shopping at the mall. On top of that, you can make an inventory of what you have (so you don’t buy it again) or see what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. Clothing that is no longer needed can be donated or sold to a vintage clothing store, where you can take that money and save it, or gasp…buy more clothes!

The same goes for records. We collectors have a bunch of records that haven’t been played. Many of us have records in our collection that are still sealed. We have bought doubles by accident. Take that time you would use for digging and go through what you already have. Chances are you will be reintroduced to music that you have forgotten about.

The ever-important listening session is key. I find it funny that the people that are most guilty of not listening to records they bought are club DJs. It’s somewhat understandable. If you are a club DJ, you are buying music to play out rather than to enjoy. It’s your living. Most of your free time, you are practicing rather than listening and the most a record gets is a few drops of the needle before finding the “hit.” You may not be able to play out a rare record that you always wanted because it doesn’t match what you play now…so it sits.

Last weekend, I put myself to the test. I went through my collection and was pleasantly surprised by the records I did have rather than fiending over the ones I didn’t have. I left out my stand bys, all my favorites that I do play out on a regular basis, in the gig bag and went digging. Some, I can’t wait to bust out again. Others, I probably will sell. These are some that I had forgot I had and perked my interest.

Googoosh (Gougoush)-Best Of

As much as I love this Persian icon and was excited to find this album on the original Ahang Rooz label, there hasn’t been much of a chance to play this out in my Latin Music based sets. However, there is an incredible Mamboesque track, "Kucheye Miadd," which will probably drop in the next set or two.

V/A-Guitar Mood

I got this because it had some tracks from Los Relampagos from Spain. This bootleg of instrumentals from around the world came out in the nineties, way before the whole recent psychedelic world music boom. This sound is like something Sublime Frequencies would put out: Trashy surf rock bands from Japan, Spain, France, Holland and a rare track from the Ventures, listed as The Mystery Band. 

Gilberto Gil-1971

Again, I got this album months ago because it was an original pressing but perhaps a little too mellow to play out. It’s the album that finds Gilberto in London as a Brazilian exile along with Caetano Veloso. Like Caetano’s 3rd Self-titled album (also released in 1971), it is mostly sung in English. Some don’t like the English records but to me there is a beauty in his voice that cannot be denied in any language. It’s the perfect melancholy record for any gray day when you are feeling homesick.

Ray Rodriguez And Orquestra Duro-Survival

Ahhh…the days when you could still find classic Salsa albums at the thrift store. I think I bought this for a buck at an Out Of The Closet in Atwater. This is, hands down, a classic. I was wondering why I haven’t busted this out, like ever? One reason is that it has a giant scratch on side two and I put it in a section in my collection devoted to scratched or damage records that one day I will go through to see if I can salvage or not. On second look, side one doesn’t have a mark and side two, except for the last song, "Amarate El Juanete," is clean as well. This is a floor banger for sure and I will bust this out at one of my next gigs.

So there you have it. Four albums that I forgot I had and two that I will possibly use at gigs. There were other records that I listened to that I wasn’t that into that I will sell to trim the excuse fat off the collection. Remember, Amoeba pays top dollar for your trades, so if you can’t kick your music habit, at least you can recycle the goods.

Sofrito: Tropical Discotheque Reviewed By Gomez Comes Alive

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, January 31, 2011 08:56am | Post a Comment

Over the years I made it a habit to dig through all the used Electronica 12”s to perhaps find a lost worldly gem. I’ll usually take a gamble on any used 12” that usually flirts with some sort of World Music theme. I look for key words such as “Afro,” “Brazilian” and “Latin” if I don’t already know the artist. A few years back I found a 12” from a label called Sofrito Discothèque. It looked cool so I bought it even though I had never heard of the label. The single was called Music Is The Word. It was a mixture of Latin, Afrobeat and Caribbean rhythms. I am so glad I took a chance on that single! I became a fan of the label and it became another go-to label along with Bastard Jazz, Freestyle and Raw Fusion in finding World Music edits and jams.

2011 finds a great pairing of two labels -- Strut Records, which has been releasing World Music heat for over a decade, has paired up with the Sofrito crew (Hugo Mendez, Frankie Francis and The Mighty Crime Minister) in releasing Tropical Discotheque. What I like about this compilation is that it mixes both vintage World music tracks and tracks made recently by newer artists. Vintage bangers from Banda Los Hijos De La Niña Luz and Mighty Shadow are joined by newer tracks from Frente Cumbiero and Quantic Y Su Conjunto Los Miticos Del Ritmo. On top of that, a few of the Sofrito edits are thrown in for good measure. The flow of African, Latin and Caribbean jams works together quite nicely, like a meal at a fusion restaurant that doesn’t take the grittiness away from the original dish when combining it with another culture’s flavor. In other words, it doesn't suck.

Unlike many of the recent World Music compilations out now, the Sofrito crew doesn’t bank on rare as much as they do on good. It serves as a calling card to buy a plane ticket to London to go dance your ass off at one of their parties.

The CD version of Sofrito: Tropical Discotheque is out now and the vinyl versions, which are the full length LP and a special 12”, will be out on February 1st.

Frente Cumbiero - "Pitchito"

Gnonnas Pedro - "Yiri Yiri Boum"

DJ Gazooo's "Beats And Pieces" Mix Cassette Out Now!

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, January 24, 2011 09:00am | Post a Comment

With the recent revival of cassette releases comes a Hip-Hop mix tape that is actually on cassette. DJ Gazoo has been on a tear of late. You can catch him almost any night in L.A., manhandling the turntables, playing anything from Soul to Punta, Reggae to Batucada and so on. But after one listen to Beats And Pieces, it’s hard to deny that Gazoo’s first love is Hip-Hop. Beats And Pieces is a throwback to those classic 90’s mix tapes that had every original song that beat makers were turning into monster hits. It's one of those mixes where you go,”Oh, so that’s where Black Star got that sample!” For any young digger, Gazoo’s mix is an essential tool to finding those records to beef up your collection. If your car still has a cassette player, throw it on and soon you'll find yourself rapping over the tracks. I’m so glad that my car still has a cassette player. I've only had the car for a few years and I think it was the first time I actually used it!

I remember many years ago giving a record to an ex-girlfriend and she didn’t know what to do with it because she grew up in the CD generation. So what happens now if you give a cassette to someone who only grew up with CDs and MP3’s? Will they try to shove the cassette into their computer?

Beats And Pieces is available at Amoeba Hollywood and at all of Gazoo’s DJ gigs. Like I mentioned earlier, he is always playing around town but you can catch Gazoo at some of these spots for sure!

Every 2nd and 3rd Sunday at Carbon for Pa’Gozar
Every Friday at The Little Temple for Resident Fridays
Every First Saturday at Mal’s Bar for Anda!
Every second Saturday at La Fonda for La Boa

Or go to:

So How Do I Get Amoeba To Sell My CD?

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, January 17, 2011 10:05am | Post a Comment
I get asked by local bands all the time, “So how do I get Amoeba to sell my CD?” Often, when I explain the process to them, I see their little eyes glaze over and I can imagine my voice turns into voice of the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon (whaa whaa whaa whaaaaaaa…). Truth is, with many musicians, if the process is not instantaneous, it is not worth it, and that’s a shame. Getting a release sold at Amoeba is a pretty easy process. I wrote something on one of my first blogs that Amoeba is the great equalizer; It’s a place where a Ska-Punk group from South Gate could outsell some big name pop star with thousands of dollars of promotion behind them. All you have to do is take that chance.

There are two ways we get CDs from local artists. The first is on consignment. Consignment means that we take anywhere from one to a few copies of your release and give it a three month trial. We do not pay up front. We issue a contract that stipulates that after the term is done, we pay you for what we sold and return the copies that haven’t sold. If all the CDs that we consign are sold before the term, we will call you before the term is up and pay you for what we sold and order more. It’s a way to take a chance on a group that maybe is not as known.

The second is usually for known artists. We call it OTC, short for “over the counter.” These are artists that have an established sales history or have a tremendous buzz and that our buyers know will sell, so we buy their products direct. Artists such as Matisyahu and Zoe sold their independent releases direct to the store before they were signed. Amoeba has done well in the past with international artists such as Inspector, Celso Pina, Ceci Bastida, Bocafloja, Troker, Tita Lima, Ricardo Lemvo and the artists on the ZZK label out of Argentina, all which have come into the store while on tour to sell their releases direct.

Local artists such as Quetzal, Chico Sonido, Chicano Batman, Very Be Careful, Chencha Berrinches and La Resistencia may not be household names, but they have all sold better than most major label Latin artists. Many of these artists listed above may not even be the biggest artists in their genre, but they were the ones who came to the store and took a chance.
It helps to do your research. If you come into the store often, you probably know who the buyer of your favorite genre is. If you don’t, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Some of the best surprises in my case have come from people who made the effort to seek me out and simply left me a sample CD to check out. Music usually speaks for itself when and if it’s great, there will be no denying it.
There is no need to over sell oneself. Just because you are on consignment doesn’t mean your CD won’t sell. What you want to do is establish a sales history and show that you have fans out there that want your music. Turning into a used car salesman to get the buyer to order more units won’t work. In fact, it just may just turn the buyer off. I once had a band call me up to bring their CD in, only to tell me their minimum order was 500 units! I couldn’t help myself. I laughed and said to them, “What’s wrong with you?” Eventually I got their CD through a distributor and couldn’t even sell the four copies that I ordered.

Be realistic. If you are a band with no buzz and a single CD on consignment, the chances of getting an instore at Amoeba is probably…nil. That doesn’t mean you won’t sell your CD. You just may have to work harder at it. If you are a band that never plays live or doesn’t do any promotion, don’t expect that your CD is going to sell. We have almost 2 million releases in the store and that's not counting the endless amounts of used product that we carry. If you don’t put the effort in, your release will be guaranteed to get lost amongst the many CDs we stock.

Also, be aware that certain things only work regionally. For instance, some bands from the Bay Area may pack clubs in San Francisco and Oakland, but no one has heard of them in L.A. Fuga was a band from Oakland that didn’t sell well at first but soon after their third or forth time in L.A., people started asking for them. For them, it was a building process. Some bands feel like they should have the same success on the road as they have at home and that is not always the case. It takes lots of work to achieve what others feel should come to them automatically.

Lastly, put your best effort out there. It’s not enough just to release a CD; it’s got to be great. There is just too much music to choose from to release something mediocre. If you aren’t feeling it, chances are no one else is going to feel it either, and no number of Facebook friends or publicists' buzz will be able to spin that. In the end, its better not to release something mediocre than to spend money pressing up a bunch of CDs. Most likely, you’ll be sitting on most of them, still in boxes and carrying them around every time you move.

A lot of the bands listed above were once on major labels or major independent labels with distribution and now are doing everything themselves. If there were artists that I thought should feel privileged and seek someone to do their work for them it would be some of the artists listed above. If they are selling CD's direct to Amoeba, why wouldn't any local band that can pack a club not do the same thing? There really isn't any valid excuse. Effort is all you need.

Amoeba Hollywood World Music Best Sellers For 2010 & Stats

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, January 2, 2011 02:00pm | Post a Comment

Charlotte Gainsbourg-IRM (CD+LP)
V/A-Pomegranates (CD+LP)
Ozomatli-Fire Away (CD+LP)
Seu Jorge-Seu Jorge & Almaz (CD+LP)
V/A-Dengue Fever Presents: Electric Cambodia (CD+LP)
Serge Gainsbourg-Historie De Melody Nelson (CD+LP)
Eydie Gorme Y Los Panchos- Cantan En Espanol
Arthur Verocai-S/T (CD+LP)
Shakira-Sale El Sol
11. Aventura-Last
Tinariwen-Imidiwan:Compaions (CD+LP)
Julieta Venegas-Otra Cosa
Basseko Kouyate-I Speak Fula (CD+LP)
Manu Chao-Clandestino
V/A-Let’s A Go-Go
V/A-World Ends:Afro Rock & Psyche In 70’s Nigeria (CD+LP)
V/A- Sound Of Wonder (CD+LP)
V/A-Brazilian Guitar Fuzz (CD+LP)
Enrique Iglesias-Euphoria

V/A-Roots Of Chicha Vol.2
Ali Fauka Toure & Toumani Diabate-Ali & Toumani
23. Buika-El Ultimo Trago
Bunbury-Las Consecuencias
V/A-Afrosound Of Colombia (CD+LP)
Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg-S/T (CD+LP)
Manu Chao-Baionarena
Mulatu Astatke-New York-Addis-London (CD+LP)
Shakira-She Wolf
Mahassa-Oyun Havasi Vol. 1
31. Marc Anthony-Iconos
Carla Bruni-Quelqu’Un M’a Dit
Lila Downs-Lila Downs Y La Misteriosa
Rodrigo Y Gabriela-11:11
Buena Vista Social Club-S/T (DVD)
Mulatu Astatke-Steps Ahead
Caifanes-La Historia
38. Zoe-Reptilectric
Camila-Dejarte De Amar
V/A-Sitar Beat Vol.2


58% of the top forty releases were released this year. 60% of those were new releases that weren't compilations or reissues.

25% of the top forty releases were compilations

35% of the top forty releases were available on both CD & LP

47.5% of the top forty releases were from the Latin Music section
17.5% of the top forty releases were from the African section
12.5% of the top forty releases were from the European section
10% of the top forty releases were from the Asian/South Asian section
7.5% of the top forty releases were from the Brazilian section
5% of the top forty releases were from the Middle Eastern Section

7.5% of the top forty releases were from the Gainsbourg family: Charlotte Gainsbourg (daughter), Serge Gainsbourg (father) and Jane Birkin (Mother). The reissue of Jane Birkin's Di Do Dah just missed the top forty.
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