Amoeblog

Under the Influence: The Dry Spells offer a heady debut

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 31, 2009 08:00am | Post a Comment
dry spells too soon for flowers lp on empty nest records san francisco psych folk rock band
Too often it seems those who write about music resort to whittling albums, by means of record reviews, into a pronged rod of divination in an attempt to dowse the well from which the music-makers' inspirations originated. For San Francisco folk-rock locals The Dry Spells, reviews of their debut LP Too Soon For Flowers (Empty Cellar Records) read alike in that the word "witchy" is summarily mentioned in almost every critique and comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, Espers, Citay, Fairport Convention and even Loreena McKennitt drop in abundance like heavy fruit from a burdened bough. It's easy to see the common understanding, as the Dry Spells are comprised of Citay's one-time and sometime players, though they've been at it since before Citay's inception and their esteem for rocking on traditional folk-ballads perceptibly deals in some of the same magic conjured by Espers, sure, not to mention that both bands share a cover of "Black is the Color" between them (Espers play it like a heart-sick maid pining over a years-dead lover, whereas the Dry Spells almost flaunt the tune, fleshing out into a verdant composition worthy of Willow the inkeeper's daughter on Summerisle). They also lend their trademark harmonies to a beguiling cover of "Rhiannon," arguably Fleetwood Mac's most enchanted mom-rock tune (I fancy many a mother-to-be has considered naming a girl-child after such a spirited strain as this), and I have to applaud the effort, as the Dry Spells manage to leave Stevie Nicks' leather and lace leanings intact despite weaving in their own fibrous skeins of alternating folk, rock and light-in-the-dye psyche threads; indeed, the Dry Spells craft complex song compositions not unlike heavy tapestries laden with meaning, tradition and more than a hearts-worth of woeful devotion.
Dry Spells, band, San Francisco, folk, rock, too soon for flowers, Tahlia Harbour, April Hayley, Andria Otte, Diego Gonzales
I could go on along these lines of correlation, offering more aural comparisons to the Dry Spells "witchy" ways (imagine Dolores O'Riordan kidnapped by the Deal Sisters meeting a wayward Meriel Barham altogether singing Steeleye Span and the Trees while on a backwoods journey to liberate the hidden mythology of the lost city of Ys via melody and romantic lyricism), but I'll let it be in favor of the band for who they really are: Thalia Harbour (vocals/guitar/melodica/glockenspiel), April Hayley (vocals/violin/melodica), Adria Otte (guitar/vocals/violin) and Diego Gonzalez (bass/oud/viola). However, I would like to take the focus away from the more obvious sounds-likes to indulge in a little examination of what makes this record great under an entirely different lens. The perspective being that their record is, for me, almost the equivalent of a very good read of high fantasy, or at least as good as any old anthologized, oft-told yarn.olive fairy book, andrew lang, henry ford, h.j. ford, fairy tales, victorian era, book

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A Single Man - Definitely Singular

Posted by Miss Ess, December 30, 2009 04:22pm | Post a Comment
In many ways, it seems like a bad idea for someone who is a fashion designer to make a film, doesn't it? It seems so egotistical, so over the top, for someone with great success in one highly visible industry to attempt it in another. Sure, occasionally it works out, but for the most part, we've seen enough celebrities try their hands at creative endeavors in genres other than the one they've become popular in to great failure. Bruce Willis, anyone? Mariah Carey? Russell Crowe? Ethan Hawke?

But Tom Ford has, against the odds, done it well. A Single Man, his first feature film, is out now and it is fantastic.

a single man

See, for all the reasons that making a film when you are a highly accomplished fashion designer sounds a single man colin firthlike a potential disaster, there are other reasons that make sense if (big if) it is done right; after all, both film and fashion are visual mediums. And Tom Ford proves yet again that he has a gifted eye by beautifully and movingly capturing the anguish and lasting sorrow of an English professor living in Los Angeles in 1962. After about a year, George Falconer (played by Colin Firth) still can't get over the sudden death of his long term lover. Ford brings precision and artistry to the film, taking the viewer directly into the George's world, showing us how slowly time ticks by, how he feels like he is drowning, his total isolation and all-consuming grief. His world has literally faded to grey and we see its colors through his eyes. There are moments of brightness, but mostly it is dulled.

The film also portrays the suffocating feeling of being forced to stay clojulianne moore a single manseted in the early 60s. Julianne Moore is perfection as Charley, George's desperate, gilded best (only?) friend. Aside from Charley, George is kept from connecting to the vast majority of the world even if he wanted to, simply by his status as a gay man in an unaccepting society. This, along with his unspeakable sorrow, causes him to feel disconnected from pretty much everything and everyone, but the events of the single day in which the film takes place try to show him otherwise.
chris and don: a love story
Befitting a film made by someone who has spent his career in visual design, the film is awash in eye candy, from the sets to the clothing, of course. Being angsty, stereotype shattering and set in '62, of course it's Mad Men-esque, and Jon Hamm even has an appearance in the film, although it is just his recognizable voice over the phone.

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Rowland S. Howard - 1959-2009

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 30, 2009 12:47pm | Post a Comment
Rowland S. Howard
Rowland S. Howard
was one of his generation’s greatest, most inventive and influential guitarists, as well as one of Australia’s towering but under recognized songwriting talents. Howard was most famous for his noisy, atmospheric, slash-and-burn style, mainly heard during his tenure with The Birthday Party. After their split, Howard continued to support and collaborate with a number of other musicians before finally embarking on a solo career.
 
Rowland was born October 24th, 1959. The slight, bat-eared youth was always drawn toward the fine arts and his early interests included drawing, reading and listening to The Monkees. In the early ‘70s he began playing guitar, as his musical interests shifted toward Syd Barrett, Roxy Music, David Bowie and prog rock. Eventually he became aware of and enamored with American bands like The Velvet Underground, The New York Dolls and The Stooges. In 1974, after dabbling with the saxophone, Howard and his school chum Simon Mclean formed their first band, the amazingly-named Tootho and the Ring of Confidence. In 1977, the two joined Graeme Pitt and Rob Wellington in the short-lived punk band, The Obsessions.


That same year, Howard joined the first band that would truly showcase his precocious songwriting genius, The Young Charlatans. Joined by Janine Hall, John McKinnon, Jef Wegener and Ian “Ollie” Olsen, the band played a mere thirteen shows but recorded a couple of demos, including the sixteen-year-old Howard’s composition, “Shivers,” later included on the compilation, Fast Forward 004 (1981). Olsen, however, didn’t want to share the songwriting role and by May of 1978, the band was no more. Wegener played with The Last Words before joining Laughing Clowns. Hall later played in The Saints and Weddings, Parties, Anything. Olsen formed Whirlywirld and later Max Q, with INXS’s Michael Hutchence.

SOULS OF MISCHIEF's TAJAI ON MONTEZUMA'S REVENGE

Posted by Billyjam, December 30, 2009 05:00am | Post a Comment
souls of mischief
The highly anticipated new Souls of Mischief album, Montezuma's Revenge, on Clear Label is the Hieroglyphics collective's first official studio album in almost a decade. There's a good reason why the long awaited record has been selling extremely well at each of the three Amoeba Music stores since it was released early this month. It's an amazing album; one that recaptures the magic of each stage of the longtime, unique East Oakland hip-hop crew. Souls of Mischief first burst on the scene in 1993 when they captured the attention of the hip-hop world with their stunning debut 93 Til Infinity on Jive/Zomba. And of course, having Prince Paul, one of hip-hop's most gifted producers, at the helm for Montezuma's Revenge only helpted bring out the best in the Souls of Mischief.

I recently caught up with Tajai of the group and asked him why it took such a long time for this new official Souls full-length album to drop.  "We have been traveling and promoting a gang of records, from Hiero Full Circle and Full Circle Live to Power Movement, Triangulation Station and My Last Good Deed, from the crew and individual members," said Tajai. And just how did the Prince Paul collaboration come about? "Opio and Domino were on the Handsome Boy Modeling School (Dan the Automator & Prince Paul) tour a few years back and they tossed the idea of doing an album back and forth. Prince Paul actually followed up and the rest is history," he said, adding, " Working with him {Paul} was incredible. He is a perfectionist and really brought out the best in all of us." 

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out this week 12/1 & 12/8 & 12/15 & 12/21...animal collective...pixies...alicia keys...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 29, 2009 11:44am | Post a Comment

There are not a ton of new releases in December, but there have been a few worth checking out. I have been too busy getting my "best of" lists ready for the end of the year and the end of the decade, so I have not had much time to talk about these new releases, but here is a quick list for you. There's not really much out this week, December 29th, just a couple of DVDs. Come pick up your copy of Paranormal Activity and Jennifer's Body on DVD!

You will have to wait until January for more music new releases. I will get back to my normal new release reviews next year, I promise, and in the next day or so I will be posting my top 100 albums of the decade! It has not been an easy list to compile. It is hard to compare albums from 2001 with albums that just came out last month. But it has been a lot of fun going back and listening to all my old favorites. I only gave myself a couple of rules in compiling the list: I had to really love the album. It had to be an album that I still like or at least look back on fondly. I also only picked one album for each artist, so I didn't let myself pick 3 Radiohead albums and 3 PJ Harvey albums. The list would have been too boring. Or, if I was Rolling Stone, I would have had 2 albums by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead, and the White Stripes in my top 25. There are just too many great albums in the decade to let those bigger artists dominate my list, so I picked my favorite album from each artist for the whole decade. I had so much fun making this list that I am also going to go ahead and make a list of my top 100 albums of the 90's. And I also have a list of my top movies of the 90's and the current decade as well! So check out my lists soon! They will be posted any day now....

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