Amoeblog

Score Board: Soundtracks for Tabletop Games, Part Two

Posted by Amoebite, April 2, 2018 02:59pm | Post a Comment

By Chris Curtis

Howdy gamesters! Welcome to the second installment of an occasional series of articles on soundtracking your board game experiences. In part one I made the case that the right music can elevate your fun around the table as much as it can with any social gathering. The tricky part with tabletop game ambience, though, is that you’re generally avoiding lyric-centric music, which wipes out a huge swath of choices.

My search for appropriate gaming background music has led me to dig into some neglected corners of my own music collection. Lately I’ve been re-listening to some '90s electronic and ambient releases that have survived years of collection culling.

For a brief period, ambient or electronic listening music was being heavily hyped by the music press. During the height of the British house and techno scene, clubs had begun to offer a separate music room apart from the main dance floor where clubgoers could take a break from the unrelenting beats. Adventurous DJs played a mix of '70s electronic LPs, mellow psych and prog, sound and nature effects, NASA recordings, and custom samples, along with current beatless 12” mixes - a blend designed to sooth the savage breast of the ecstasy eater. These “chillout” or ambient rooms became quite popular, and after album releases dubbed “ambient house” by The KLF (Chill Out) and The Orb (The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld), a spate of similar releases surfaced, most on independent labels, and a new (sub)genre was born. The scene flourished for a couple years but ran its course by the mid-'90s. Truth be told, not a lot of the material holds up, and, arguably, only a handful of classic records emerged from the heyday years.

Continue reading...

The Top 10 Shoegaze Bands of All Time, or, The Godlike Genius of Shoegaze

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 20, 2015 06:11pm | Post a Comment
I'm still buzzing from the Ride show at the Warfield. "Cool Your Boots" has been running through my head non-stop for a week (although there was a break, at least in my sleep, when I had a dream which involved listening to Cedric Im Brooks). Since the show I've been listening to a lot of shoegaze (and a little chimp rock -- anyone remember that?).

Long sleeves, stripes, and androgyny
Long sleeves, stripes, and androgyny -- the alternative was San Diego Sizzler Chic

I've also met a couple of people since getting back from San Francisco with whom the subject of music arose. Two of them were on their way from Coachella to Brokechella and were talking about "soul" (in the sense that Maroon 5 are soul, I suppose) act, Fitz & the Tantrums. No one had heard of Ride or had the haziest notion of what shoegaze means. When I told them that Ride had played at Coachella they looked incredulous. 

Continue reading...

The 20 Best Shoegaze Albums

Posted by Billy Gil, March 7, 2014 06:21pm | Post a Comment

Islowdivenspired by the reunion of shoegaze greats Slowdive, Amoeblogger Brad Schelden and I have compiled our list of favorite shoegaze albums.

For any who don’t know, shoegaze is a style of music rooted in the noise pop of The Jesus & Mary Chain and dream pop of Cocteau Twins from the early ’80s. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, bands took elements put forth by those bands—loud, distorted guitars, heavily reverbed vocals and emphasis on atmosphere over discernable lyrics—and came up with a new sound, first truly realized by My Bloody Valentine on their classic 1988 album, Isn’t Anything. Shoegaze (or shoegazing) was a term NME and Melody Maker in the U.K. used to describe the visual representation of the sound from bands who rose in My Bloody Valentine’s wake, depicting bands’ apparent lack of movement onstage and propensity to stare down at their numerous effects pedals. The genre hit its heyday in the early ’90s but persists today, with bands like My Bloody Valentine and Swervedriver reuniting and artists like M83 and Diiv using elements of their sound (so-called nu-gaze, but I’ll avoid that terrible term). So with that lengthy explanation, here we go.

Continue reading...

The 90s...the best albums of 1991...

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 15, 2012 03:33pm | Post a Comment

Things had not changed much from 1990 to 1991. I was still obsessed with all things British. Still listening to a lot of Depeche Mode and The Smiths. Still very much living in the '80s. I had only just been introduced to Morrissey the year before. I listened to Viva Hate and Bona Drag all the time. I was a fan of Morrissey first since The Smiths had broken up before I even knew who they were. So it was fun to go back and discover The Smiths' albums for the first time. I started with Louder Than Bombs which was a fantastic way to introduce myself to the band. I then went back and discovered their studio albums one by one. Queen Is Dead, Meat Is Murder, Strangeways Here We Come and then The Smiths. I was hooked on Morrissey and The Smiths and there was no going back. I became a vegetarian in 1991. I started reading magazines more obsessively and trying to find out as much as I could about my favorite bands.

Both Morrissey and Erasure had new albums in 1991. These albums would both be a big part of my life that year. I can't really think about 1991 without thinking about Kill Uncle and Chorus. Nirvana released Nevermind in 1991. This album would change everything. Not everything exactly, but it did change a lot! I still remember my dad having the conversation with me about grunge. He asked me if I was "grunge." I probably answered "sort of." It was like me coming out of the closet. I also listened to so much Erasure in high school that I should have never really had to come out to my mom! I was still very much obsessed with my British bands. I was still into the goth, shoegaze, grebo and indie bands of the UK. But I also became a huge fan of Nirvana. I really had no choice. I didn't really notice Nirvana until Nevermind came out. But I listened to this album probably more than anything in 1991. Although I was probably still a bigger fan of my UK favorites then all the bands coming out of Seattle. Brit pop was just around the corner and would completely take over my life in the years that followed. But it was nice to actually be into a band from the US for a bit. Nirvana are actually one of three bands on my top ten of 1991 from the US. But the other two I actually always thought were British! They may have come from the US but they fit more into the British sound of the era. Nirvana sort of don't really fit in. But this album was too big to ignore and not put on this list. I couldn't deny its place on this list. I was quite obsessed with it. A lot of us were.

Continue reading...

Shoegazers Sleeping Bags Release Debut Album, Play Bootleg Tonight

Posted by Billy Gil, September 15, 2011 12:15pm | Post a Comment
As a diehard shoegaze fan, my ears tend to perk up any time I hear the following things: echo, reverb, tremolo, washed out vocals, densely layered guitars. So witnessing the birth of a true LA shoegaze band in the form of Sleeping Bags has been a pleasure.

The band consists of brothers and Princeton members Matt and Jesse Kivel (the latter also of Kisses), on guitar/vocals and drums/vocals, respectively, plus Abe Burns on guitar, David Lewis on bass and Mark Nieto on synths and other noise. Their self-titled debut, out now on Easter Everywhere, calls to mind swirling shoegaze maestros like Ride, Chapterhouse and Swervedriver, but with more of a willingness to explore synth-laden textural landscapes, akin to modern shoegazers like Airiel, Film School and The War on Drugs. Songly like “March of Gold” create inviting aural fields of sound with lovelorn melodies before igniting them with guitar fireworks.

Burns says the band formed when he and Matt Kivel worked at Daily Variety. (Hey, I worked there too! Ages ago though.) Burns says they practiced once before their first show, writing all of his parts during that first practice. Later, they added members, fleshed out the songs with more sonic texture, with Lewis of Gentle Hands coming on board last to add low-end sound.

Continue reading...