Amoeblog

Essential Records: The Jesus & Mary Chain 'Psychocandy'

Posted by Billy Gil, January 30, 2015 05:00pm | Post a Comment

Like many records whose reputations precede them, Psychocandy, the debut album by Scottish troublemakers The Jesus & Mary Chain, should be approached with caution and when you’re ready, not because someone told you to listen to it.

I picked up Psychocandy sometime in 2002 from Amoeba Hollywood, shortly after the store opened. I was going to school in San Diego at the time, and my friends and I would make trips up to Lou’s Records in Encinitas and Amoeba to binge buy used CDs. No one told me to get Psychocandy like Barry from High Fidelity, but I knew I probably should, judging by my growing obsessions with Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine.

The first time I put it on, on my shitty car stereo, I couldn’t really hear what was going on. A car full of people talking didn’t help. It just sounded like static to me, but I was intrigued. I listened later on and, of course, became full-on obsessed.

“Just Like Honey” is the obvious entry point and still a hauntingly beautiful song that is universal in a Nirvana sorta way. But the album’s next few tracks are its best. “The Living End” isn’t just a song title that Gregg Araki would nick for his great movie of the same name; its overall vibe is so underground and elusive that listening always makes you feel a lot cooler than you really are. It doesn’t matter that I’m way too chicken shit to ever ride a motorcycle. Both “The Living End” and “Taste the Floor” introduce a sonic trick that other great bands would mimic, like the aforementioned Nirvana, their inspirations in The Pixies (who themselves would cover J&MC’s “Head On”) and shoegaze followers like Lush and Swervedriver, piling added distortion on what already felt like too much to begin with, like pouring chocolate syrup all over a chocolate cake. It’s overwhelming and awesome.

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20 Great Vinyl Reissues From 2014

Posted by Billy Gil, December 31, 2014 03:44pm | Post a Comment



Our Best Of 2014 extravaganza ain’t quite over yet. Here’s a list of 20 excellent records that were reissued on vinyl this year. (Out of stock? Add the item to your wishlist and we’ll notify you when we have it in.)

Erykah Badu - Mama’s Gun

Erykah Badu’s second album is a neo-soul touchstone that represents her transition from her earlier work to her wilder 2000’s output. Features the hit “Bag Lady.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The BeatlesThe White Album

The mother of all rock bands/albums. The Beatles’ albums (all of which are pretty much essential) were reissued on vinyl this year. You gotta own this one on mono vinyl, the way it’s meant to be heard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belle & Sebastian If You’re Feeling Sinister

I wrote an essay about how important this album was for me; read it here. Also check out the twee band’s reissues of The Boy With the Arab Strap, Push Barman to Open Old Wounds, The Third Eye Centre, Tigermilk, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant, The Life Pursuit, The BBC Sessions, Write About Love and Dear Catastrophe Waitress.   

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10 More Essential Records from 2014

Posted by Billy Gil, December 8, 2014 06:20pm | Post a Comment

Last week, I posted my top 50 albums of the year. Cause 50 just ain’t enough, here are another 10 essential records from 2014:

Fear of Men Loom

Fear of Men imagine a world where The Cranberries stayed good, The Sundays really got their due and Belly didn’t flame out. Led by singer/guitarist Jessica Weiss, the band calls to mind alternative/dream pop bands of yesteryear, and Weiss’ vocals call to mind the ethereality of Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser crossed with the heartiness of The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan. The band’s muscular indie-rock can move in graceful lockstep (“Tephra”) or set a pretty, yet never sappy backdrop over which Weiss can breathily intone, as on the lovely “Seer.” On the album’s most thrilling moments, Weiss will stretch her voice into territory that goes beyond the expected, singing into a lo-fi mic on the gorgeous “Descent” or looping into dizzying layers on standout “Waterfall.” One of the most promising debuts of the year.

 

Cult of Youth Final Days

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Essential Records: Stevie Wonder's 'Songs In The Key of Life'

Posted by Amoebite, December 1, 2014 02:22pm | Post a Comment

Essential Records

Songs In The Key Of Life is hailed by many as one of the greatest albums ever recorded. Music industry icons like Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, Elton John and Mariah Carey all sing its praises. By the time Stevie Wonder gifted the world his magnum opus - at just 25 years old - he had already released 21 albums under the famed Motown label. Amazing!  

Stevie Wonder Where I'm Coming FromOne month before his 21st birthday in 1971, Stevie Wonder released Where I'm Coming From, a definitive production that gave way to a new aesthetic, style, and sound not aligned with the polished, clean, stand up image Motown championed for its artists. In essence, Wonder was shedding his "Little Stevie Wonder" persona and declaring his musical independence. Armed with a new recording contract giving him artistic control, Wonder co-wrote the album with then girlfriend and former Motown secretary, Syreeta Wright. Together the two penned songs that showcased a new, funkier style Wonder was developing outside the confines of Motown. Digging deeper to perfect his new sound, Stevie followed with Music Of My Mind in 1972, the precursor to what became his unrivaled golden era of output. Music Of My Mind was entirely written, produced, and performed by Wonder (with the exception of a single part in two songs) masterfully utilizing Arp synthesizers, Moog keyboards, and live instrumentation. This was Wonder's first truly cohesive effort realized all on his own. The transformation from "Little Stevie Wonder" to bonafide one man production powerhouse was complete.

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Essential Records: The Tony Williams Lifetime, "Emergency!"

Posted by Rick Frystak, November 23, 2014 02:57pm | Post a Comment

They say music can be life-changing. I’ll buy that. Probably the most important and profound post-Beatles record in my Jazz life, or even my musical, personal and business life (you’ll see), was Emergency! by the The Tony Willams Lifetime. That’s a big sentence for an LP fiend like me. ONE record led by a drummer did all that? To me, Jazz is a huge, beautiful expression of the American Classical music, no small accomplishment in the last 100 years with everything out there. And I remember as if was yesterday how this record came to change my life.

In high school and later I was in a bluesy, Procol Harum-meets-Jefferson Airplane-style outfit calledMoonfleet, after the film. We had the town and the era by the ear, so naturally we were asked to play our own Senior Picnic close to graduation at Westchester High School (still there), near the beach in L.A. I had played drums at another Senior picnic and I knew the picnics were free-for–all's in those days. We were excited to blow our fellow student’s minds, with coffins and dancers and fiery  entertainment, with myself on guitar then.

As per our gig deal, the school had hired a PA system for our show. The day came and we pulled in for a sound check with our equipment. What the hell? It’s a flat bed truck set up on the Jr. Varsity lawn!! With nice club-PA speakers! Loud!! With audio guys that knew what they were doing!! We had a big stage with good sound. But, hey, that music, coming over the system?

As we unpacked our gear we started to actually hear the music that the sound guys were playing. We thought we were doing fire music! This music had the most energy and fast logic I’d ever heard in any organized small band! The group would play the main melody of the song and then this wonderfully composed improvisation would come just blistering out of the sound, churning with ideas and primitive juju, smearing itself over our teen minds, and then back to the main melody again, thank you, allowing us to breathe again…formed like Jazz, but smoking and searing like Rock. And all of it, electric guitar, searing Hammond organ, and even the 4-piece drum set sounding like it was coming out of Marshall stacks set on 11, said drummer just exploding with super-human chops!.

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