Amoeblog

Joanna Newsom set to reissue Milk-Eyed b-side

Posted by Kells, July 15, 2011 03:05pm | Post a Comment
Ladies, breathe deep against your whalebones for this July 17th marks the release of yet another gorgeous offering of tangible media from Drag City: the reissue of Joanna Newsom's eloquent "bring our troops home" treatise "What We Have Known", the long-playing b-side to the Milk-Eyed Mender's "Sprout and the Bean" single, providing something of a missing-piece link between the material showcased on Newsom's debut release and her epic sophomore effort Ys. This single, pressed into 12" vinyl with what promises to be nothing if not an artfully precious etching on the reverse side, comes housed in a "Civil War-styled jacket" because, well, just because! Get yours at Amoeba asap~!

Death Touring California For First Time Ever

Posted by Amoebite, January 26, 2011 11:29am | Post a Comment

death

When Drag City issued long defunct Detroit band Death's recorded-in-'74 album .. For the Whole World To See, we couldn't keep 'em on the shelves here at Amoeba. Seriously, they were flying outta here like proverbial hotcakes! Thanks to the epic popularity of the first release, for your listening pleasure a set of demos from '74-'76 called Spiritual Mental Physical, is also out now.

And now, for the first time ever, Death will be rocking California -- they have two dates scheduled: Feb 25 at Slim's in San Francisco with Zolar X and Feb 26 at Echoplex in Los Angeles with Sic Alps and RTX! All killer, no filler!

For more about Death, stay tuned to the blog in February, when our Kelly will have a more in-depth post about the band as we celebrate Black History Month!

"Freakin' Out"

(In which Job interviews Neal Morgan...)

Posted by Job O Brother, October 20, 2009 02:22pm | Post a Comment
Due to some unfortunate miscommunications between the staff here at the Amoeblog, two of us ended up interviewing the same musician, Neal Morgan, about his solo debut.

Fortunately, the interviews are vastly different, due to my professional and honed skill as a journalist devoted to hard-hitting storytelling and dedication to factual analysis, and the other interviewer, Miss Ess, who prefers a more “whimsical” and, shall we say, lying-er approach to writing.

You can read this other "interview" by clicking on this link right here.

Due to his tight schedule of touring and promoting the new album,
To The Breathing World, Neal was under the weather and frequently distracted during the following interview, which resulted in many of his answers being garbled and unintelligible. (Confidentially, I think alcohol may have been a contributing factor to this. That’ll teach me to get drunk before an interview!) I therefore had to rely on memory and occasional paraphrasing in transcribing the following Q & A. Even so, I was able to capture the spirit of our conversation, from Neal's obsession with "crushing" to the revelation of his suicidal fantasies. Read on…


Neal Morgan before the plastic surgery

How did you pick up playing the drums? What is it that drew you to them so strongly - so much so that any other attempts to follow other dreams were crushed?


That’s an excellent question, Mr. Brother. I am impressed with your professional and honed skill as a journalist. And, might I add, your pectoral muscles are rad.

Who are your favorite drummers and how will you crush them in the inevitable drum wars?


I don't think I'll have to crush them. I think the drum wars will be humans versus drums, ala humans versus robots in Terminator. There will be a small drummer resistance led by Ginger Baker, who by then will have machine guns for arms.

This record is a gutsy idea – what made you want to create a drum and voice album instead of making a piping hot plate of delicious waffles? ‘Cause – and maybe you didn’t know this, Neal – waffles are not only easy to make, but less likely to attract snarky criticism from a cynical music press.

I'm not super big into waffles.

You know what? Let’s continue this interview at the Waffle House.

Um…

LATER ON, AT THE WAFFLE HOUSE...

When and how did you begin writing these songs? Like, did you go with a pen and lined paper? Or are you one of those people who writes better curled up in the corner of a coffee house with a worn journal and a thin-tiped Sharpie©, somberly writing lines of poetry while casting sly glances at whoever walks in the door, each time hoping it wiil be a super-cute girl whose taste in post-grunge, neo-folk garb is matched only by her ability to hold her own in a conversation about 1970’s rock ‘n’ roll and thinks Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show (Great Job) is funny, not annoying, and who’s passive enough to wait backstage at shows for you to not only finish your set but help strike the stage AND gracefully endure the endless, awkward post-show conversation with the opening act (and their girlfriends) and visiting pseudo-celebrities (and their girlfriends) and friends (and their girlfriends) as you all aimlessly try to figure out where to go for a late-night dinner “in this town” but TOUGH enough – when the two of you are behind closed doors – to make you forget your sensitive, artist ways and make you feel like a virile, passionate, carnal MAN. Or do you just use a laptop?

...A laptop.
 
How did you make the arrangements? Were they all there in your mind, with all their many parts, waiting to get out? And have you considered seeking medical attention for this? ‘Cause you’re probably a paranoid schizophrenic.

Broccoli is Satan spelled backwards.

High in vitamins C, K, and A

What kind of technology did you use to record the album? How did you shape the various sounds? Actually, nevermind. Miss Ess will probably ask you those questions ‘cause she’s such a nut about those technical details. Like, she’ll ask a guy that on a first date. It’s weird. Pass the syrup, please.

I’m uncomfortable.

PASS THE SYRUP OR I’LL EAT YOU!!!

[Neal passes the syrup.]

Thank you. I feel the influence of Nevada City in your words (I've experienced those salamanders!) and creativity. What affect do you feel growing up there had on you and your work, and have you forgiven the townspeople for it?


Why is this the hardest question? I think I gave Miss Ess a very so-so answer, now that I'm thinking back. I don't know what to say about the creative process or the result of the creative process in terms of having come from Nevada City.

Just say what we’re all thinking: It’s the reefer.

That’s not what I was thinking.

I didn’t say it was. I said it’s what we are all thinking. This Boysenberry syrup tastes like sugary cow blood.


Now on to your new town: What affect do you feel Papua New Guinea has on your work and creative output.


I brought all these sea shells down there, packed inside the drums in their cases, only to find I can't pay for anything. WHAT? So I'm broke and in a really dry spell, creatively.

Tell me about your tour plans and how you are going to bring this record to life on stage! You have a female singer who will be joining you? Tell us something secret about her that no one’s supposed to know! Something dark we could use against her if she crossed us.


Damaris Peterson, who’s performing with me – she’s a man, plain and simple. And my great grandfather.

Are you messing with me?

No. I’m taking this interview seriously.

Then that’s fantastic.

What have you been listening to lately? Besides music, I mean.


The roar of the road, my man, the roar of the road.

Wow. I never noticed how exactly you sound like Bob Seger, Neal.


I get that a lot.

It’s eerie. God rest his soul.

Bob Seger isn’t dead.

So?

[Long, awkward silence.]

What is your most prized piece of double helical gear?


Huh?

What song best describes your life right now, if you had to choose between “Suicide” by Suzi Quatro or “My Suicide” by Michael Gira?

Uh, Suzi, I guess? ...Why do I have to choose between those two songs?

Name a record you love that you think more people should listen to and explain why you think it’s important to be so bossy about it.


Zach Hill's Astrological Straits. I'm bossy for your own good.

What's next for you to "crush?"


I don't do a lot of crushing. I'm starting to think maybe I should crush a lot more. Wasn't there a rap song about crushing a lot?

What's been your best find at Amoeba to "crush?"

OK, I'm going to crush something at Amoeba. I promise you I will. It starts here.

Can I finish your waffles?

Knock yourself out.

Neal's album To The Breathing World comes out today, October 20, 2009, and will be available at Amoeba Music. As an added incentive, any customer who purchases the album at Amoeba Music will also receive a free handshake from me, while supplies last.

Get Your Medieval Rocks Off with Helena Espvall and Masaki Batoh's Overloaded Ark

Posted by Kells, September 29, 2009 08:00am | Post a Comment
 
The last time Helena Espvall (of Espers) and Masaki Batoh (of Ghost) got together to create an album the end result resembled the kind of sound-tapestry two people of like-minded musical musings might weave over an ocean of space and time. Their first record (self-titled on Drag City) generated a quiet excitement from those of us at Amoeba familiar with the "new folk" weirdness of Espers and the psych-rock wyrdness of Ghost and seemed a sound-marriage of sorts where faded-about-the-edges Scandinavian tunes and other haunting works, both borrowed and original, mingled freely on relic-esque instruments. Nothing there suggests the kind of epic, blast-from-the-distant-past sonic onslaught of Overloaded Ark, Espvall and Batoh's second release on Drag City and the latest source of a new take on a very, very old favorite song. 

Overloaded Ark's opening track, titled "Little Blue Dragon," is a better known by the name of the merry dance it was originally composed for way back in 14th century Naples: the saltarello. It is played in a very fast triple-meter and named after its leading leap-step, in Italian, saltare. Of course, the composer credit for this song goes to the ubiquitous Anoymous who rules the bulk of any Early Music bin selections, but a version of the song, aptly titled "Saltarello," was made famous by that eclectic, neoclassical Australian band better known as Dead Can Dance (and if you've ever been to a Renaissance Faire or a Goth gathering where "dark" world music fits the rotation then I'll bet you a flagon of mead you've heard it before). Another version of the song, performed by Corvus Corax --- an outrageously outfitted German band who champion medieval music and authentic instruments, seems to share the same vein Espvall and Batoh tapped to give their "Little Blue Dragon" life. Espvall and Batoh's take on the Black Death era romp pounds out a feverish pace with traditional instrumentation at the forefront and electrified psychedelic meanderings fleshing out the background. It's really the perfect sort of aural "pants-ing" I felt I needed as a listener expecting to hear an extension of Espvall and Batoh's past works, only to be blown away with their new attitude. 



Overall the album is an enjoyable melange that combines haunted, free-roaming rhythmic jaunts (very much in the style of Ghost -- see above), dense meditative journeys by caravan (on "Overloaded Ark" and "Until Tomorrow"), sweet Swedish folk sustains revisiting the daydream feeling of their previous effort ("Vem Kan Selga"), a classically beautiful yet brief cello interlude by Espvall ("Pro Peccatis Suae Gentis / Nun Fa"), a delicate, music box-like ditty sung in French whispers ("Tourdion") and a cover of a Silvio Rodriguez tune, "Sueño Con Serpientes" played with the same ethereal, not-your-mom's-folk-record tones that made me fall instantly for Espvall and Batoh's pairings in the past. On the final track, "Sham no Umi," both artists sing a repeated refrain in Japanese-- "yoake mae no umi made" ("until the ocean before the dawn") -- while warm waves of instrumental echoes in guitars, pianos, strings and electric rays seem to embrace them. Given that so much of this record seems as though it could be filed under "heavy" in more ways that one, I love that the last note it lingers on resonates hopefully. I feel uplifted by it and ultimately it makes me want to return to side A and start the voyage all over again. I predict that this'll be the among the witchy records playing while I assemble my Hallowe'en costume this year.

Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, August 6, 2009 02:37pm | Post a Comment
Ben Chasny is the man, the myth from Drag City guitar fest Six Organs of Admittance. Sounds like the making of his latest record, Luminous Light, out August 18, was some seriously risky business, what with the Turkish prison-style atmosphere and all! Check out our correspondance below:


Miss Ess: What music did you hear in your house when you were growing up, before you had a choice? Do you think this music had any influence on you?

Ben Chasny: The Rolling Stones - Tattoo You. Well, I have a crazy tribal backplate, so yes.

ME: When did you pick up the guitar?

BC: When I realized it was a lot easier to play like that than when it was lying on the ground (waa waaaa).

ME: When and how did you start writing songs?

BC: When I was 3. I wrote a song called "The Futility of the Rattle" inspired by Sartre. I've tried to simplify things since then.

ME: How has living in Seattle as opposed to the Bay Area influenced your latest batch of songs?

BC: Well, I can still look California here but feel Minnesota. Or is it the other way around?

ME: What made you ready to move away from a mostly guitar-based sound for this album?

BC: I loaned my guitar to an albino 5 year old from El Salvador that used to be my cook and he kept it for 5 months longer than he promised, right when i was supposed to do raging guitar overdubs that sounded like John McLaughlin, so I had to have some folks do them on viola and flute instead.

ME: Where was your new album recorded? Who produced it and what was the concept behind the production style, if any?

BC: Randall Dunn both produced and recorded it. His style is somewhere between Dirty Harry and When Harry Met Sally, but more Turkish prison style. There were always mafioso types coming in and out. None of them had any guitars to borrow.

ME: What is your most prized piece of musical equipment and why?

BC: I'm partial to my custom made crazy ass distortion pedal that my friend Bill Skibbe made for me. Bill does sound for Shellac.
     
ME: What song describes your life right now?

BC: "Old And In The Way" by Old And In The Way.

ME: What's an album you love that you think more people should hear?

BC: The Cosmos Soundtrack.

ME: What records have you been listening to lately?

BC: Lots of Cakekitchen, Thomas Khoner, Bruce Springsteen, Flower Corsano Duo and Master Musicians of Bukkake.

ME: Who would you have on a bill with you if you could choose any bands, regardless of time and space?

BC: Moondog, Popul Vuh and Hendrix.
     
ME: What has been your best find at Amoeba?

BC: I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but off the top of my head: This killer Hermann Nitsch 8 cd box set, used, and Bo Hansson's Music Inspired by Watership Down for $1.99. Oh yeah, and A.N.P.s Ultrasonic Action, which I had sold years before and wanted back.

ME: Thank you for your time.

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