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Fair Winds and Following Seas Aboard Numero Group's Seafaring Strangers: Private Yacht compilation

Posted by Kells, July 31, 2017 10:11pm | Post a Comment
Is popular music pounding a hole into your Summer soul? Are you tired of your local "light rock, less talk" radio station slicing out the same old top-forty farts? If you're looking for deeper-than-deep Soft Rock cuts, other songs titled "Sailing," and generally more "yacht," less Lil Yachty in your life, then Chicago-based label Numero Group has got you covered. Welcome aboard Seafaring Strangers: Private Yacht, the latest addition to their stellar Wayfaring Strangers series of compilations and a twenty track bounty of sonic solutions for anyone in need of a latitude adjustment à la boxed pinot grigio soaked, gently-rolled joints of poolside AM GOLD.

Numero Group's knack for mining oddities and essentials from America's private press netherworld and beyond is legendary at this point and, given the scope of known and unknown genres already showcased in their broad range of compilations, Private Yacht feels as delightfully inevitable as it sounds immediately right-on at first listen. In many ways it plays as if it's picking up where their Record Store Day 2012 compilation WTNG 89.9FM: Solid Bronze left off, each track possessing similar stylistic qualities whether they skew more towards AOR, Modern Soul, lite Disco/Funk, dockside singer-songwriter Folk, or Smooth Jazz-tainted Southern Rock session throwaways.

Sometimes the best part of digging into a lovingly curated comp spread over two LPs (like this one) is discovering which tracks standout with each pass, back to front, sides A through D. Clockable similarities and differences in style and composition aside, standouts in this mix ebb and flow in a steady tide of mood, here a slappy, bass-y space groove, there a quasi-Beach Music/Surf Rock hybrid, all awash in a pleasantly mysterious fidelity reminiscent of a thousand sun-baked snack bar boom boxes blasting on their third lowest volume setting. That might sound a little shitty, but trust: it's just right.

My current favorite track is the Carolina Beach Music-adjacent jam "One More Time" by Salty Miller (a.k.a. Nelson Miller of The Monzas). It's got a captivating late afternoon shuffle framed with the sounds of seagulls and gently rolling surf, languid guitar strums, shore-strolling bass lines, soothing backing vocals, and breezy strings 'n things that just make you want to loose your shoes already. Check out Numero Group's promo vid for this "wreck-diving the private American AOR ship graveyard" expedition below, featuring Paul Skyland's superbly easy-going windjammer "Give Me Your Love"—welcome aboard. 

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Son of Rogue's Gallery: Strange but Seaworthy Reworkings of Traditional Maritime Folk

Posted by Kells, March 4, 2013 01:17pm | Post a Comment
















Okay, we get it. There is no need for further evidence that Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski have developed an immortalizing affinity for all things piratical. Not that there's anything wrong with pirate fever, mind you, (I might be the only one on staff here at Amoeba Music SF that'll openly admit to being stoked about the prospect of future chapters in Pirates of the Caribbean film series) it's just that their enthusiasm for more legendary exploits of swashbuckling buccaneers, pillaging priveteers, salty sea dogs, and scurvy scallywags of yore sure has manifested itself in stranger ways than Walt Disney's theme park attraction turned multi-billion dollar motion picture franchise success story (sorry, Haunted Mansion). Of course I'm talking about their published tributes to the sea chantey arts.

Back in 2006 Depp and Verbinski had a hand in producing Hal Willner's Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys -- an unruly and somewhat drunken compilation featuring an intriguing, genre-spanning line-up of mostly high profile pop/rock artists revisiting a bounty of maritime folk and seafaring work songs, songs that were once passed down quite literally over vast oceans of time thus contributing to modern music styles in more way than one might immediately suspect. These reinvigorated renditions of antiquated rhymes that comprise Rogues Gallery serve as pleasant testaments to the durability of oral tradition, though oddball tracks buoy here and there throughout the cut, rendering some beloved chantey-man reels near unrecognizable, freakish even, challenging imbibers to sink or swim along with each tune and demanding listeners to temper their grog with a certain amount of equanimity.

Now, Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys, the latest second two-disc installment in the Depp/Verbinski/Willner pirate hymns and devotionals, released February 19th on Anti Records, is as boozy and weathered as its predecessor, exploring new crests and troughs of the diverse spectrum of second-wave maritime melodies that advance and perpetuate the popularity of salt-sea songs and drunken sing-a-longs. It should come as no surprise that the likes of Tom Waits lashed up with Keith Richards and the slow-rolling runnels of layered vocal-rumblings over a watery melange of acoustic strums and pluckings in their rendition of the early 19th century folk song "Shenandoah" is a highlight of the record that almost making up for neither of them appearing in the original Rogues Gallery crew. In fact, curious pairings are more of a theme this go 'round what with even Michael Stipe and Courtney Love getting together (!) for "Rio Grande" -- one of the more traditional-sounding contributions that outweigh, say, more "raw" cuts like Iggy Pop and Hawk and a Hacksaw's grisly take on "Asshole Rules the Navy".

Todd Rundgren, however, should be marooned for his take on one of the most wildly popular whaling chanteys, "Rolling Down to Old Maui" (made famous by the late great master of modern Canadian Maritime Folk, singer-songwriter Stan Rogers). His high-impact club-thumper of a pop dance pump-a-thon is the most heinous and unnecessary so-called interpretation of an enduring classic on the whole record. In fact, it's so abominable that I almost want it to work despite the sum of it's being jacked-up beyond all recognition because his is precisely the kind of yarn that makes this funky weave worth unraveling. Instead it seems that Todd is having a laugh, baiting the hook for nautical nerds everywhere only to violently yank our jowls out of our faces before we can fully gag on his electronic mutiny. [Dearest Todd, I love you and I know you've sort of "gone bamboo" of late what with your new tiki bar opening soon, but come on! Rather than pillage a classic when you should've pumped your bilge with a something a little more kitschy like the Sex Pistols did with "Friggin' in the Riggin'"] I'm just not into it.

Of all the artists that appear here there are some very lovely surprises like actress Anjelica Houston singing "Missus McGraw," Marianne Faithfull together with the McGarrigle Sisters on “Flandyke Shore,” some long lost Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Inventiondoing an instrumental version of one my favorite old sea songs "The Handsome Cabin Boy" (check out Ewan MacColl & A. L. Lloyd's traditional recording on their albums The Black Ball Line (1957) and A Hundred Years Ago (1963) as well as the excellent Topic Sampler No 7 collection Sea Songs and Shanties) and even the rock n' roll pirate himself, the Depp, lends a loving hand on "The Mermaid" with Patti Smith and "Leaving of Liverpool" with Shane McGowan and first mate Gore Verbinski.

All in all, the savvy outweighs the sloppy with tracks like Dr John's rum-soaked "In Lure of the Tropics" drinking Macy Gray's reggae-toned "Off to Sea Once More" way, way under the ship's table in this NSFS (Not Safe For Starbucks) compilation. Other seaworthy notables include songs from Beth Orton, Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Cave (who previously stacked two tracks on the first Rogue's Gallery voyage), Sean Lennon paired with Jack Shit (also appearing again) as well as Akron/Family who this time around teamed up with New Orleans' gender-bending rap duo Sissy Bounce (Katey Red and Big Freedia) -- a triple threat balancing tamer teams of three like actor Tim Robbins with Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs singing "Marianne." In short, if you fancy lengthy compilations loaded with the promise of adventurous curiosities, maladjusted charm, sloppy oddities, and deviant beauty then avast ye matey -- this here's the swill for you.

For the Love of Halloween Mixtapes!

Posted by Kells, October 29, 2012 11:37am | Post a Comment

One of the many reasons I look forward to Halloween each year is that it truly is the holiday what inspires the best mix tapes. Also they're usually the most fun sort of mix to compile as the novelty encourages limitless experimentation. For the last thirteen years I have made and exchanged Halloween mix tapes with a dear friend and kindred spirit thus becoming a Halloween tradition that means as much to me as pumpkin carving, inventing the best costume for the day, and impaling candy corn on my canines.

Naturally, we here at Amoeba Music make the most of live-mixing music for our Halloween festivities (see DJ Teen Wolf, pictured right) and this year shall surely be no different so, by all means, do come out and join us! Remember to dress to distress, bring your little dogs too and, since we close early at 7pm so that we may all celebrate Halloween right frightfully, feel free to consider ours a warm up to your Halloween party plans -- I know i do! In fact, I'll be manning the decks this year!

Now, if you're into making a Halloween mix but as yet haven't attempted your own here follows some seasonably solid Halloween mixtape advice from some reasonably seasoned compilation enthusiasts, highlighting some of the content that made the cut for my own mixer this year. What the heck, let's call it seven hot tips for Halloween mixtape success -- it's been a while since I've listed anything.


Halloween mixtape hot tip #1
: When culling content for a Halloween mix never discount an entire genre as seasonally inappropriate as fear knows no formal bounds. I'm talking about Country, y'all. Famed Country and Western convoy outlaw C.W. McCall's "Night Rider" from the recently reissued Wolf Creek Pass (on Omni) is some great C&W for Halloween what with its odd moog-a-delic reverberations and badass Rap-esque delivery droning on and on about driving at night and stuff. While not as frightening and perfectly Halloweeny as, say, Porter Wagoner's "The Rubber Room" it is an entirely appropriate track for a diverse, genre-spanning Halloween compilation in that it provides a departure from the more standard, obvious fare. That, and the fact that most songs about driving at night are cool.

C.W. McCall - "Night Rider"




Halloween mixtape hot tip #2: Know of an artist that already claims more than enough material suitable for a Halloween mixtape? Then don't be afraid to dig deep into the fallow reaches and nasty darkened corridors their catalog, especially at the eleventh hour of your compiling for the devil sends the best of the beast when he knows the time is short. I recently exhumed this little Bruce Dickinson (vocalist of Iron Maiden) novelty number called "Dracula" from it's resting place (i.e. it's buried on disc two of the Best of Bruce Dickinson retrospective collection of his solo works) for use in this year's Halloween mix. This song, purportedly Bruce's earliest recorded effort circa 1977, really has it all: chilling wind effects, a stalker-ish bassline, cheesy lyrics, patent Dickinson delivery. Seriously folks, this is right up there with Tim Curry's "Anything Can Happen on Halloween". A++

Bruce Dickinson - "Dracula"




Halloween mixtape hot tip #3: While Michael Jackson's  Thriller will be forever after the cornerstone R&B camp champ and go-to track for Halloween Soul-takers, do yourself a favor and refrain from slipping it into your mix (if you can). Instead, much in the vein of hot tip #2 above, dip into the crypt for some similar soul from the same era. I keep an ear out all year for fresh fuel for my annual mix and found more than a few potential tracks lurking in the shadows of a new release compilation titled Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974-1984 -- a mix of synth-drenched and drum-machined homespun electro-soul, just barely predating Thriller's overwhelming success, swelling like a wave of unheard soundscapes from beyond the void only to retreat before breaking against the rocks of popular culture. Excellent mixes eschew the obvious; go underground.

Personal Space Jerry Green - "I Finally Found the Love I Need"




Halloween mixtape hot tip #4: When in doubt, go goth. Goth is basically Halloween disco music made for and by people who tirelessly celebrate the holiday pretty much every day of the year, amirite? Even on Christmas. Lately there's been a delicious resurgence of gloomy gothic pop dance jams inspired by 80's goth/darkwave/ethereal/coldwave and 90's electroclash and stuff. I dunno, I heard some hippers referring to some of it as witch house. Call it what you will, just get some of that crispy darkness and cut it into your mix. Check out Zola Jesus, Salem, Tamaryn...even a little Grimes will do really. A co-worker put on Trust's TRST at the other day, wondering if gothy synthpop was a bit much for a daytime Amoeba sales floor soundtrack. I immediately snagged it for my mix, "Chrissy E" did it for me.

Trust - "Chrissy E"





Halloween mixtape hot tip #5
: You probably already know this but the "Monster Mash" is the best song in the history of songs. Bobby "Boris" Pickett's perennial holiday jam just never gets old which is perhaps why it's been covered by the likes of the Beach Boys to The Smashing Pumpkins. Even the Misfits who are in no way short on patent Halloween mixtape material once took a stab at the "Monster Mash". Horror host John Zacherle also honed is own cover on his Halloween novelty album Dinner with Drac in 1958 (recently reissued on CD as a two-fer with his Scary Tales record and other sundry bonus content, just in time for Halloween 2012), but the title track, "Dinner with Drac, Pt. 1", is the perfect alternative to rehashing "Monster Mash" many times over, cover after cover.

John Zacherle - Dinner with Drac, Pt. 1"



Halloween mixtape hot tip #6
: A fog of extra dense bass and heaps of Halloween samples and sound effects creep forth from this chunky fat plate o' dub known as Tino's Breaks 6 - Hallowe'en Dub. I've gotten a lot of Halloween mixtape mileage out of this spooky slice of seasonal delight. Chock full of snippets from old Disney records, some choice Vincent Price sound bites and the usual suspects of dollar bin SFX wax, this record offers much in the way of transitioning between oddments when live mixing a Halloween party or putting the party down on tape (or CD or even MD or what have you). My favorites are the opening track "Bats in my Belfry", "It's Halloween Dub" and "Doomsday Dub" (below). If you come across this record on vinyl and you love Halloween, snatch it up! It's a rare find nowadays.

"Doomsday Dub"




Halloween mixtape hot tip #7
: TV themes are go! I'm a glutton for nostalgia and novelty and nothing improves a Halloween mix more than a heady dose of spooky movie/TV soundtrack fare. Even most Sci Fi themes, like that of the Invaders or Dr. Who, can find a place in any thoughtful Halloween mix. But you don't necessarily need to keep it in the Addam's Family realm of obvious cuts, stretch out with one of the many collections of international horror proffered by the Finders Keepers/B-Music label or strike out on a sinister soundtrack safari of your own! This year I'm including the retro intro theme song for Ge Ge Ge no Kintarou -- a 1960's Japanese cartoon about a boy creature and all his kooky monster friends in the graveyard. Sometimes it's not about what you find or how you find it, it just finds you. Happy Halloween!

Late Night Tales' Latest: Smooth Sailing with Groove Armada's Tom Findlay

Posted by Kells, September 19, 2012 02:52pm | Post a Comment

If Amoeba Music were a theme park I'm pretty sure the Electronica section would be our version of Tomorrowland. I mean, for a section so chock full of retro-futuristic realness and fad-tastic appeal it shouldn't really come as a surprise that this year's best mix of backyard barbecue/SoCal beach-walk roller-skating/AM Gold yacht-rockin' jammers is currently filed under the Groove Armada bin card, humbly packaged not unlike any other CD/LP bearing the Late Night Tales standard. That's right, UK-based compilation master-curators have issued this flawless assortment of deep cuts and legit hits from the 70's and 80's Soft Rock heyday, assembled by one Tom Findlay of the aforementioned Groove Armada, under the title Music for Pleasure. The fact that the word "guilty" didn't find it's way between 'for' and 'pleasure' in the title is perhaps saying something about how these songs have come to be appreciated and accepted as a now relatively shameless sonic indulgence (unlike, say, endless deep house mixes for Burning Man survivalists which, for me, summon full-body dry heaves).

Featuring artists like Todd Rundgren, Electric Light Orchestra, Gerry Rafferty, Sugardaddy, The Doobie Brothers, Ambrosia, Robert Palmer, Boz Scaggs and so, so many more this is surely the cheapest ticket to the Indian Summer sunset vibe-ride in your mind. Put it on, turn it up, and feel your cares fade clean away, for, what a fool believes...he sees and no wise man has the power to reason away what seems to be, etc.




In A Cloud II - MORE New Sounds From San Francisco!

Posted by Kells, July 17, 2012 12:23pm | Post a Comment
Looking to scope the lay of the local pop scene in San Francisco? Seek no further than In A Cloud...II!


Finally, the long anticipated sister release to the initial In a Cloud - New Sounds from San Francisco compilation the fine folks at Secret Seven Records delivered back in 2010 is ready for her coming out par-tay! Like her predecessor, In A Cloud II: New Sounds from San Francisco features 13 previously unreleased recordings from some of the city by the bay's finest, including: Vetiver, Ty Segall, Hannah Lew (of Grass Widow), Wymond Miles (of Fresh & Onlys), Chuck Prophet, Lucky Eyes, Will Sprott (of The Mumlers), Sonny & The Sunsets, Paula Frazer, Kelley Stoltz, Bad Backs (featuring Andrew Kerwin of Trainwreck Riders & Bianca Sparta of Erase Errata), Tim Cohen (of Fresh & Onlys and Magic Trick), and Papercuts with fresh-to-death cover art by Simon Evans. Unlike the previous In A Cloud jammer, this sweet baby is a limited vinyl-only release with 650 copies pressed so don't go sleepin' in on the release date (that would be today, y'all sleepyheads). The Hannah Lew track, "Octopus via Satellite", currently has my heart hypnotized like a gracefully executed intergalactic postcard, it's hard to imagine this would've could've ever been a throw-away creation. Get yours today at Amoeba Music!

p.s. the only way one might one-up experiencing a gathering of local lovelies as put forward by this exemplary comp is to double down on the support by attending the record release show for In A Cloud II this Thursday July 19 at Amnesia, 9pm. Check out the flier below for details 'n things!


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