Amoeblog

my top 10 films of 2016

Posted by Brad Schelden, January 2, 2017 02:11pm | Post a Comment

I really can't imagine my life without movies. I have been obsessed with them since I can remember being obsessed with anything. Movies are great to escape into. Especially this year. I never got around to posting my top 10 films of 2015. I just didn't get a chance to see everything I wanted to by the end of the year. But I did make a list. So here is my top 10 of 2015. Mad Max: Fury Road, Carol, Ex Machina, The Hateful Eight, The Revenant, The Martian, Sicario, Brooklyn, It Follows & The Diary Of A Teenage Girl. The end of the year is always too packed with good films so it is hard to catch up with everything. But I did try and see almost everything this year. I had high expectations for La La Land and Jackie. And I know most people loved those movies. They just didn't do it for me this year. I really tried to like Jackie and I certainly did love some things about it. But I think the more I thought about it the less I liked it. This top ten is what I have seen and loved this year. These are the movies that have stayed with me. The movies that I can't stop thinking about. The movies that I will return to and revisit in the years to come. It was really hard to put these movies in order. I did love all of them. It just kind of depends on my current mood which I liked better. I really liked a lot of movies this year. I really liked Green Room, Julieta, Deadpool, The Neon Demon, Love & Friendship, Miss Sloane & Loving. They all could have easily been on this list too.

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With "2016 Rap Up" Contemporary Culture Observer Skillz Surmises Highs & Lows of The "Bummer" Year That Was

Posted by Billyjam, January 1, 2017 11:59am | Post a Comment

"This past year was a bummer," is how  Skillz, (aka Mad Skillz) kicks off his just published annual year in review rap: "2016 Rap Up" (audio of song below).  From that opener through its closing line about "2016 you can go, and I'm glad you're gone Felt like a long bad dream" this contemporary culture observer accurately surmises the highs and lows of 2016 while simultaneously channeling how many of us feel at this year's end. Hear the full audio below, uploaded yesterday to SoundCloud, of the artist's latest year-in-review rhyme: something that began accidentally 14 years ago. "It was originally a freestyle for the end of a mixtape that I did in '02 over all Neptunes beats," he told the Amoeblog in an interview last year, adding how "It just grew legs of its own." By now his annual "Rap Ups," that are typically recorded and uploaded in the final two days of December have become anticipated rhyme recaps of the year. 

Skillz' two-decade career dates back to his killer 1996 debut From Where??? on Big Beat f
eaturing production from The Large Professor and Jay Dee (aka J Dilla).  But so popular are Skillz' annual "Rap Up" reviews, they tend to overshadow his other work. They're funny, short, and cater to a short-attention span generation. As Skillz shared in his Amoeblog interview the formula for his annual rap recap is simple:  "Get to it, give 'em the facts, make it humorous, make 'em think, make 'em reminisce, and get out!"  For the backtrack to his newest production Skillz utilizes Young M.A’s ’ “Summer Story (instrumental).” 

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Best of 2016: Kelly's Personal Picks (now with more cat)!

Posted by Kells, December 31, 2016 02:18pm | Post a Comment
Looking back at 2016, it was a good year for music, if for nothing else. If you're reading this—hey!—you survived the ride. How did you do it? Was it the music? Without a doubt, music has saved my life, or at least my mood, as often as once a day (very probably) over this past year and for that I am thankful (most definitely). Here follows a little list of personal favorites that really came through for me in 2016. My cat may be in some of these pictures...


Tony Molina
- Confront the Truth
(Slumberland)

I never know what to expect from Tony Molina, aside from hella Bay Area bombast and great short songs, and Confront the Truth further confused matters for me (save for the short songs tip) in the best way possible. This lovely 45 is brimming with just the sort of comfortably spun, little-bit-country/little bit folk 'n roll melodies I like. It can also be said that it's brimming with conspicuous influences, namely bits n' bobs reminiscent of The Beatles, Elliott Smith, and perhaps even a little early Skynyrd (think "The Seasons"). Nevertheless, it's easy to appreciate the truth of Molina's heartfelt songwriting and superb ability to navigate a softer power as he coaxes and bends his strums and twangs 'til the bitter end on this ten-ish minutes long, eight song confrontation. Or 'til the bittersweet end, as the cherry on top is a loving cover of Thin Lizzy's wistful instrumental "Banshee" rounding out the record like a would-be bonus track. Altogether a perfect example of how beautifully moving even the most fleeting music can be.



Egyptian Lover - 1983-1988
(Stones Throw)

This 4 LP box set, along with the 1984 LP Egyptian Lover released last year, has been the most important music for me during 2016, no contest. I'm no noob to Egyptian Lover's 808 kingdom, but something clicked in me over the last 12 months that made fiend for his beats more than ever and, as such, I pretty much forced it on everyone around me (not that anyone complained). Though I have already expressed my many thanks and affection for Greg Broussard's electro alter ego and his freadky deaky machine in a previous post, I'd be remiss if I didn't include Egyptian Lover in this year end best-of post.  To quote the man himself: "What is a D.J. if he can't scratch? What is a MC if he can't rap? What is a beat without a live clap? Well, I can do it all, baby, just like that."



Dick Stusso - Nashville Dreams/Sings The Blues
(Vacant Stare)

Somewhere out there a guy is chasing his dirty rock 'n roll dreams tonight, do or die. Oakland's Nic Russo is the that guy bringing Dick Stusso's hellbent fantasies to life, maybe real life, or something like it. He may look okay, but Dicky sounds like a demented drunk branded to fail upwards
towards his hardtack escapist visions of fortune and freedom via middle America's back-country highways, one infectious, nightmare-edged ditty at a time. Part T. Rex boogie, part Gram Parsons twang, all grain alcohol down the hatch and back again, these country fried, mud-soaked porch aspirations hang loose together like plucked notes on a low string being tuned ever downwards. Featuring additional vocals by Grace Cooper (The Sandwitches/ Grace Sings Sludge), this record is pretty limited so don't sleep on it. Get some Dick asap!



Tele Novella
- House of Souls

(Yellow Year)

I got my first taste of Natalie Ribbon's penchant for dark n' lovely bygones and whip-smart singer-songwriter prowess years ago the first time I saw her perform as a part of Agent Ribbons, and I've been hooked ever since. She brings that same sinister energy and torch-bearing realness to Tele Novella, the "macabre-pop" band she joined after moving to Austin, Texas a few years ago. Her mark on their debut LP, House of Souls, is as recognizable as her distinctly smokey yet capable-of-cracking-a-marvelous-squeal vocal range. The album showcases a curio cabinet of yummy trick-or-treat compositions wreathed in dreamy harmonies and spooky jingle-jangle know-how. Another limited press best snatched asap.



Little Wings - Light Green Leaves
(Gnome Life)

Technically this is a re-issue, but it also kind of isn't. When Little Wings' Light Green Leaves was first released via K Records in 2002, the main man behind the magic, Kyle Field, recorded three versions of the record and each version was released via three formats (CD, LP, and cassette tape). The CD version was my gateway to Little Wings' trippy, lo-fi landscape, with songs like "Look At What The Light Did Now" quietly pushing that whole "Freak folk" movement towards it's zenith. Thanks to the good folks at Gnome Life, this year was the first time that the CD version of Light Green Leaves saw the needle on my turntable (yes!!). What's more, this pressing comes with added rainbows thanks to the thrilling effect of the holographic foil-stamped cover sleeve. Also, I've had the pleasure of chatting with Kyle a few times, here and here are two of those times.


Violent Change - VC3
(Melters)

VC3 is the third full-length effort from San Francisco's Violent Change, a dank basement rock band that always sounds like they're broadcasting live from some subterranean rusty-yellow iron lung via janky infernal radio channels that just won't tune in, and therein lies the appeal. This record is a bit mellower than their 2014 release, A Celebration of Taste, and brandishes a less Sex Pistol-y energy while putting the damage on some decidedly Shoes-y sounding riffs, with "Unit A" being a standout example of bandmaster Matt Bleye's ability to  cut crystal visionary pop melodies through all that fuzzy distortion. VC3 is "the lowest form of high art" indeed.



The She's/The Dry Spells split 7"
(Empty Cellar)

This cool little spit 45, housed in some fun, lens-bending 3D cover art, contains atmospheric and sonic harmonies exemplary of a very "San Francisco" sound duality, each side presented in perfect reflection by two different San Francisco bands. Side A sees The She's ripping through “Cherry Red"—a golden nugget of a California beach-ready lipstick bop reminiscent of The Breeders and Shonen Knife. Then the fog rolls in languid and thick on side B as The Dry Spells' moody, spellbound psych-folk tendrils slowly wend all over "Heliotrope," the first new music from the band since their 2009 LP Too Soon For Flowers, thus making this split effort one of the more satisfying 7-inch fixes this year.




Solange - A Seat At The Table

(Columbia)

Sisters, sisters...it's been a good year for the
Knowles sisters. Both Beyoncé and Solange released absolutely fab, extremely successful pop albums that simultaneously reinforce and redefine what a fab, successful pop album is and how it's made. It can even be argued that both albums are "important" in their own way. That said, the two records differ greatly enough that discussions on the topic can spur folks to declare one's preference for one over the other, which isn't important at all. Still, while Beyoncé's Lemonade is an audiovisual tour de force and cause for much commotion, Solange's subtle yet powerfully meditative A Seat At The Table (and the accompanying body-positive music videos) have inspired comparisons to theatrical surrealism and the nickname "the thinking man's Knowles" within my social circles, which I find amusing. Whatever, they're both splendid works and you've probably already decided you like both, no matter how you rank them. Don't hurt yourself!


Blonde Redhead - Masculin Féminin [box set]; Peel Sessions [RSD 7"]
(Numero Group)

Any year that sees a release from Blonde Redhead is a good year for me. In addition to the powered-by-various artists Freedom Of Expression On Barragán remix album, Numero launched two trips into the Blonde Redhead vaults with the Record Store Day special Peel Sessions 45 and a the gag-worthy 4 LP Masculin Féminin box set comprising the band's first two albums, singles, and demos from their early era—stuff that has been out-of-print, hard to find, or otherwise unheard until now! Even if you already have the albums and the singles, this box set is simply a must for the rarities et cetera contained within, including a heap of old photographs and two telling essays by Arto Lindsay (DNA) and Erin Osmon, altogether exploring to the source of the Blonde Redhead sauce. Did you know Blonde Redhead recorded a country song?!

Incidentally, Numero Group has, as always, been killing it with some great new releases this year. If I were made of money, I'd be all up on everything they have to offer, but aside from the Blonde Redhead stuff, two compilations in particular (pushed via their Numbero imprint) have continued to delighted and surprise my senses: the mysterious Shanghai'd Soul Episode 4 collection of bygone deep funk/soul gems mined for the adornment of modern hip-hop cuts (hence the titular tip-of-the-hat to Wu-Tang's Shaolin stylings), and the Record Store Day compilation Los Alamos Grind—a "post-apocalyptic-bachelor-pad" gyrating jukebox homage to those tattered yet titillating Las Vegas Grind comps that still filter in through the used new arrivals vinyl bin from time to time. Get into it!

Well, that about does it for my picks, save for this year's killer stack of Exotica and Exotica-adjacent releases pictured way up top (I wrote about those here) and my Burt Reynolds odyssey (saving that for another post). Happy New Year everybody! Dumpster fire or no, it's time to get a move on. 
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An Other 'Best Music of 2016' List

Posted by Rick Frystak, December 31, 2016 01:45pm | Post a Comment

 


by Rick Frystak


Here in The Choice Bin, the wealth of superior new music that I get to be exposed to is just staggering.
The wealth of music around this whole planet is astounding, limited only by one's desires, with each new release or deep-dug reissue a shiny object for us to be drawn to. Walk into an Amoeba, an indie record store or check into some genre-specific internet radio and real college radio and you'll know what I mean. And this year was no exception for those who actively seek out new and old sounds and enjoy doing so.

As a youth I was glued to my AM and then FM radio, listening to Rock, Soul, Jazz and 20th Century Classical revelation. Some hosts would even compare hi-fi gear live on the air, using the latest LP cuts. We waited impatiently for stuff we'd heard to arrive at the 3 or 4 record stores in the vicinity. Then I rode to the record shop and bought my favorites, back then in mono for $1 cheaper, and later driving into Westwood for some small-label LP or expensive import that was a must-have. 

With the passing of many of our heroes so devastating, each moment of immersing oneself in their language and legacy is a precious one. And of course, there are the highly talented younger artists that bring a fresh, but well-informed element to their work and sometimes usher in new eras. Compelling, unfamiliar music seems to be discovered by me daily. Then to hear someone say, ''...nothing's happening musically now'', just sounds goofy. 

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The Top 20 Soundtracks of 2016

Posted by Amoebite, December 29, 2016 04:51pm | Post a Comment

Top 20 soundtracks of 2016

There were lots of soundtrack releases to choose from this year, with many limited edition color vinyl versions creating excitement and selling out fast. Soundtracks play an incredibly important role in films by directors Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, and Nicolas Winding Refn, so it's no surprise that they each had two soundtracks appear on this list. Music from Star Wars films, new and old, made it on this list as well. Read on to see what made each soundtrack release so special.

Suicide Squad the Album

20. Various Artists - Suicide Squad: The Album

Although the movie was not incredibly well-received by critics, the soundtrack - which features Skrillex, Twenty One Pilots, G-Eazy, Panic! at the Disco, Eminem & more - landed it into our top sellers of the year.

Released on CD and LP.

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