Amoeblog

New "What's In My Bag?" Episode With ODESZA

Posted by Amoebite, June 10, 2015 11:04am | Post a Comment

Odesza

Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight are the duo behind indie electronica project ODESZA. Founded in 2012 prior to graduating Western Washington University, the pair released their debut LP, Summer's Gone, only a short time later to great acclaim. In 2013, ODESZA released their My Friends Never Die EP and opened for Pretty Lights on his Analog Future Tour. A year later, Mills and Knight were back in the studio finishing up their sophomore LP, In Return (Counter Records), before heading out on a U.S. tour that would culminate in a live performance at Coachella. That summer they toured Australia, and returned to the U.S. for a string of dates prior to their second album's release in September 2014. This summer, ODEZSA is set to tour North America and Europe.

ODESZA recently stopped by Amoeba Hollywood to shop around and hang out with our What's In My Bag? crew. Harrison gets things started with a copy of Ain't It Funky by legendary soul man James Brown on vinyl. We at Amoeba are happy to have supplied Harrison with his very first James Brown LP! For Clayton's first pick, he opts for a copy of Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill by psychedelic folk musician Grouper. If you're ever in the mood for some ambient-dream pop jams to remind you of Portland, this is the album for you! Harrison also picks up a sweet re-issue of renowned Brazilian singer-songwriter Marcos Valle's self-titled release. If you dig Brazilian artists like Sergio Mendes and Os Mutantes, Marcos Valle needs to be in your record collection. Clayton manages to dig up a vinyl copy of Sam Cooke's Ain't That Good News, which contains his favorite song to listen to, "A Change Is Gonna Come." The guys of ODESZA dig for an array of great music, including electronica classics Daft Punk and French band AIR.

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Amoeba's Top 50 Favorite Albums of 2014

Posted by Billy Gil, December 29, 2014 04:24pm | Post a Comment



All we do at Amoeba is listen to music and talk about music. Take advantage of how nerdy we are with this comprehensive best-of list from the year, which compiles new records from the best albums of 2014 lists made by Aaron Detroit, Brad Schelden, Oliver/Matt/Jordan, Billyjam and myself (click to see invidividual lists).

 

1. FKA TwigsLP1

FKA Twigs LP1 was one of those cross-genre, unclassifiable albums that everyone seemed to love. Not only the best debut record of the year, perhaps the best, period.

“There is miles of ink about Ms. Twigs already, and for good reason – her debut album, LP1, wlessly melds a bonkers electronic experimentalism with mainstream R&B and pop with spellbinding results.” —Aaron

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my top 50 albums of 2014...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 11, 2014 09:30am | Post a Comment

#1 Douglas Dare - Whelm (Erased Tapes)
There are always a couple of albums like this every year. And I always just patiently wait for them. I just never know where they are gonna come from. I loved this album after the first listen. This album would clearly end up on the top of my most listened to albums of the year. Which naturally makes it my favorite. It is one of those albums that I prefer to listen to by myself since I am never sure if anyone is gonna like it as much as I do. Your favorite albums are the ones you keep going back to. The ones you want to start over as soon as they end. This is that album for me. An album I will always have close to my heart. This album is basically just Douglas stripped down bare with his songs and his piano. It is beautiful and heartbreaking. A fantastic debut album.



#2 Mac DeMarco - Salad Days (Captured Tracks)
Mac DeMarco's second album was one of my favorites of 2012. Here he is again with his fantastic third album. I am still not exactly sure why I can't stop loving this dude. I actually will forget how much I love him until I go and put on his albums again and then fall in love all over again. This new album is another perfect mellow pop album. Perfect for a lazy day. It gets under your skin and becomes part of you. There is just no denying the talent of this dude. I can't help but feeling sometimes that he has somehow tricked my into liking him. You seriously can't help but love this album. There is nothing upbeat about this album. However it still manages to make me so happy every time I listen to it.


#3 A Winged Victory For The Sullen - Atomos (Kranky)
This is the collaboration between the brilliant Dustin O'Halloran and Adam Wiltzie from Stars of the Lid. A minimal mix of strings and piano. This could be the soundtrack to a BBC production of Twin Peaks. A mellowed out minimal version. A beautiful and triumphant album. This is another of those instrumental albums that I need in my life every year. I always get worried that I won't find them. But somehow I always do.






#4 Merchandise - After The End (4AD)
There was no way to get around the fact that I was going to love this record. It falls somewhere between Echo & The Bunnymen and This Mortal Coil. The band have changed their sound a bit over the years. They now fit nicely on their new label 4AD. Carson Cox has that perfect dark and dreamy voice. It is like new romantic soft rock. This was another album I kept going back to this year. Forgetting how much I liked it until I went back and rediscovered it over and over again.






#5 Aphex TwinSyro (Warp Records)
I never thought I would have Aphex Twin back in my life. I was very obsessed with Richard D. James and all things Aphex Twin back in the 90s. I still listen to Selected Ambient Works Vol 1 & 2 often. I was obsessed with both ...I Care Because You DoRichard D. James Album. And even I was worried we were making too big of a deal about the return of Aphex Twin this year. But I am so happy he is back. He will never ever be able to get me like he did back in the early and mid 90s with those albums. But this new album offers us some more of the same and makes me remember why I got so obsessed with him back then. He manages to mash up all the different sub-genres of dance and electronica into one seamless beautiful album. It is like welcoming an old best friend back into your life.


#6 Sun Kil Moon - Benji (Caldo Verde)
Mark Kozelek has been a busy man the last couple of decades. He created some of the most beautiful heartbreaking albums as Red House Painters & Sun Kil Moon. He also has released solo albums, collaborations, tributes, live albums and Christmas albums. Mark Kozelek is one of those artists at the top of my list of favorites. I have been a fan for a long time and seen him live many times. But I will never get over this guy. He might break your heart with every song he writes. But I can never get enough. This album is what we have come to expect from him over and over again. You sort of have to be emotionally prepared to dive into a Mark Kozelek album. I am just always so happy to have another album like this to have in my life.


#7 The Tower of Light - The Tower of Light (Felte Records)
I listened to this album a lot this year. I can't stay away from it. This is like something from the darker side of shoegaze. An album that would fit nice between your albums by The Mission and Piano Magic. It is dark and gothy with bits of dream pop. The darkness of this album can be a bit overwhelming. But it is so tempting to keep going back to this album. It is perfect for those gloomy days when you want to feel sad. Or for those days when you need an album to bring that sadness out.





#8 Sharon Van Etten - Are We There (Jagjaguwar)
Sharon Van Etten is another one of my favorites back from 2012 with a new album out this year. I was eagerly anticipating this album since I loved her last album so much. Another of my favorites with that voice that just gets me every time. This is dark and dreamy folk music. She really just keeps getting better and better with each album. Her albums are like a little musical journey you take with her. You sort of forget about everything else when you are hanging out with Sharon Van Etten.





#9 WhirrSway (Graveface)
Nick Bassett has been a busy man lately. And I keep loving whatever he is doing. He managed to put out an amazing EP by Death of Lovers with Dominic Palermo from Nothing earlier this year. And he also plays bass in Nothing. Another one of my favorites of the year. This new Whirr album is straight up shoegaze. I have no problem with albums sounding like early 90s shoegaze. Not when they are this good and dreamy. I will never get tired of these albums. I hope Nick Bassett and his collaborators keep on keeping on with these albums.






#10 Ariel Pink - pom pom (4AD)
I don't think I will ever love an Ariel Pink album as much as I loved Before Today back in 2010. But this album comes pretty close. There is really nobody like Ariel Pink. I usually don't like my music too weird but he is just the right amount of weird for me. I think most people tend to love or hate this guy for some reason. You either get him or you don't. I love how he manages to combine being a weirdo with writing really addictive new wave style soft rock sort of pop anthems. The songs are always weird and might scare off some. But I love this dude and always looks forward to see what he will do next.





#11 FKA Twigs - LP1 (Young Turks)
It took me some time to warm up to FKA Twigs. I liked the videos but I wasn't sure I was gonna really like the album or not. But it grew on me. I think I always wanted it to turn into something it wasn't. It just sort of stays where it is supposed to be. Think of her as a modern version of some mix of Bjork and Kate Bush. If those things scare you then you should probably stay away from her. But I warn you that "Two Weeks" is a very addictive song.







#12 Lust For Youth - International (Sacred Bones)
This is their third album but my favorite so far. Dark synthy pop from Sweden. Reminds me of some of my favorites like Human League or Depeche Mode. Or maybe Alphaville and Anything Box. Those were all bands that could combine the darker sides of New Wave with great pop songs. There was a point a couple of years ago when I felt like I was only listening to bands from Norway and Sweden. So I am always happy to relive those moments with bands like this.






#13 Zola Jesus - Taiga (Mute)
It really seems like it has been too long since we have had a proper album from Zola Jesus. I fell in love with Zola Jesus after Conatus came out in 2011. She has changed a bit on this new album. Her songs are bigger and fuller and maybe more powerful. I am still not sure why she isn't as popular as Bjork, Goldfrapp or Lady Gaga. Maybe she is still a bit too weird and dark. But I like her just how she is. There is really nobody out there like her.







#14 The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)
These guys always make me think of Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty. There are songs on here that sound like big anthems. The kind of songs that could get a huge crowd up on their feet. They are like the indie rock version of John Mellencamp. This is one of those perfect albums that seems put together perfectly. Adam Granduciel has one of those near perfect voices. Like Mark Kozelek or Mark Lanegan. It gets a hold of you and doesn't ever let go.







#15 Horsebeach - Horsebeach (Alone Together)
These are my favorite kind of albums. They seem to come out of nowhere and become your favorite as you are listening to them for the first time. You suddenly can't figure out how you survived without them. These guys are dreamy and jangly and just the perfect amount of everything I love. This is Manchester's version of Real Estate. I have been in love with Manchester since I first discovered Joy Division and The Smiths. But it is nice to have a reason to be in love with it again. I can't stop going back to this album. And I can't get it out of my head.





#16 Real Estate - Atlas (Domino)
Another great album by Real Estate to equal their last album from 2011. You really can't go wrong with an album by these guys. Each song is like a beautifully woven jangly masterpiece. Even their darker songs still feel fluffy and light. Smooth and beautiful harmonies. They are the Indie rock version of the Grateful Dead. Which might sound like a nightmare. But they pull it off.









#17 The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants To Be Here & Nobody Wants To Leave (Fat Cat)
I sure do love this band. I get excited whenever they have something new out. I just can't get enough of that Scottish accent. There albums are always intense, dark and heartbreaking. They sit somewhere between post punk, new wave and shoegaze. I feel like they are my long lost grandfather telling me stories from a different time. But the stories are always still relevant to my own life. They are just one of those bands that I am so thankful to have in my life.






#18 Grouper - Ruins (Kranky)
Liz Harris is another one of those artists that I always look forward to. I always can't wait to here her next album. This is just more of the same of what we have come to love from Liz Harris AKA Grouper. Her albums are always so quiet that you just might miss them go right by you. But once you sit down and spend some time with it you realize how great it really is. Grouper is not for everyone. But this is what makes her so great. Those of us that love her keep coming back for more. There is always a simple beauty to these records. And there is a feeling that I get while listening to this album that I really can't get from anything else.





#19 HTRK - Psychic 9-5 Club (Ghostly International)
This band makes me nostalgic for bands like Gravenhurst or Bark Psychosis. Now imagine those bands mixed with Everything But The Girl. Moody and atmospheric. Dark and dreamy. Some of these songs are slow moving and feel like they never really get started. But I do keep coming back to this album.









#20 Dean BluntBlack Metal (Rough Trade)
This is one of those albums that honestly could have been my favorite of the year. This is another album that I can listen to over and over and never get sick of. If you played this album for somebody for the first time it would be hard to figure out when it came out. At times is sounds like an 80s dream pop record. At time like a 90s experimental twee album. A beautiful record it is for sure.








#21 Otto A. Totland - Pino (Sonic Pieces)
Totland is the piano player from Deaf Center.  Deaf Center also put out a great EP this year called Recount which you should probably listen to. This new Otto A. Totland is simply a beautiful album of piano music. Perfect minimal background music.











#22 Trust - Joyland (Arts & Crafts)
I am still recovering from the first Trust album. I just fell really hard for that album like anyone else did who heard it. Trust is back and has brought us another great album full of dark and synthy anthems. Don't be afraid of the singers dark and haunting goblin like voice. These songs are like the best of goth and 90s dance music combined into one big dance party.










#23 nothing - Guilty Of Everything (Relapse)
Another great shoegaze album in 2014. Like most great shoegaze albums I have no idea what these guys are singing about most of the time. Loud and beautiful guitars over dreamy vocals. I am always amazed when bands like this manage to somehow create catchy songs beneath all the noise.









#24 Craft Spells - Nausea (Captured Tracks)
More dreamy and catchy pop from this Captured Tracks band. I was put under the spell of these guys back in 2011 when their first album Idle Labor came out. They still have me under their spell in case you were wondering. In a year without a new Wild Nothing or Soft Moon album it is nice to have these guys around to keep me company.









#25 Hauschka - Abandoned City (Temporary Residence)
Before I even knew what a score was, I was always drawn to the music in the background of films. I often love a movie more for its score than anything. So, I always love artists like these who make their own little scores without the movie. I usually listen to an album like this at least once a week or so. I need it. I have been following the career of Hauschka AKA Volker Bertelmann for a while now. This might be my new favorite by him. It is dark and tense and beautiful piano music. Everybody needs some music like this in their life.




#26 Bing & RuthTomorrow Was The Golden Age (RVNG International)
Minimal ambient classical from this New York City Ensemble. A beautiful little album. I can never have too many of these albums in my life. They give me time to calm down for a second and reflect.










#27 White Hex - Gold Nights (Felte)
Its nice that the label Felte has given me a couple of albums to enjoy this year. Italians Do It Better has sort of put a void in my life by not releasing any albums the last couple of years. White Hex would sit nicely next to Glass Candy and Desire. Dark and synthy. A perfect album for driving around LA after the sun goes down.









#28 S - Cool Choices (Hardly Art)
This is Jenn Ghetto from the great slowcore band Carissa's Wierd. I know I say that I love a lot of things. But I love Carissa's Wierd and I love Jenn Ghetto. I love her voice. I love her songwriting. Her songs are heartbreaking. Jangly pop confessional love songs. Who needs more than that. I will wait patiently for that Carissa's Wierd reunion tour. But in the meantime I am happy to have Jenn Ghetto back in my life.







#29 Jeremy Jay - Abandoned Apartments (K Records)
I was a big fan of this dude back in 2007 when he put out A Place Where We Could Go. I think that was the first first year I moved back to LA. I couldn't be more happy that Jeremy put out this new album earlier this year. But I still can't figure out why more people don't love him like I do. Maybe they do and I just don't know it. But I always feel like he is my secret artist only I know about. There is a mellow new wave sort of vibe to this album. Combined with an artsy sort of singing style.





#30 Ashrae Fax - Never Really Been Into It (Mexican Summer)
This band is sort of what would happen if you combined Switchblade Symphony with Chapterhouse. Or maybe Siouxsie as the singer for Lush. Dreamy Gothy shoegaze. Hard to believe this band is from North Carolina and not from some rainy industrial town in England. This record grew on me real quick.








#31 Arca - Xen (Mute)
Listening to this album at times feels like you are in the middle of some dystopian sci-fi horror film. The album is frightening at times. But there are moments of beauty found throughout the album. An exciting new album by the man behind some of the production of FKA Twigs and Yeezus. And of course we are all waiting to see what he will do with the new Bjork album.








#32 Future Islands - Singles (4AD)
This is the band's fourth album but the first time most people have heard of them. If you have not heard them yet you should. Imagine Tom Waits singing with the Human League. The singers raspy voice somehow works with their dancey new wave songs. These songs are undeniably catchy.









#33 She Sir - Go Guitars (Shelflife)
Jangly pop meets shoegaze is often all you have to say to make me check out an album. I also usually like anything Shelflife puts out.  It didn't take long for me to figure out I was gonna like this one. Catchy and breezy shoegaze from Austin Texas. Real Estate meets Pale Saints.









#34 Electric Youth - Innerworld (Secretly Canadian)
I first heard these guys when their track was included on the Drive soundtrack. That song is also on this album. But there are many more to make you happy. For fans of Kylie Minogue, Goldfrapp, M83 and Sally Shapiro. Catchy synth pop.









#35 Raveonettes - Pe'ahi (Beat Dies Records)
I can always count on these guys to give me a good record. Imagine Phil Spector producing a shoegaze album. Their songs are always so addictive and catchy to me. I always want more Raveonettes in my life. As long as I have a new Raveonettes album every couple years I will always be happy.








#36 Ritual Howls - Turkish Leather (Felte)
Dark post-punk from Detroit with vocals somewhere between Sisters of Mercy, Nick Cave and Peter Murphy. This album is super dark and dreamy. It sways back and forth from industrial to dreamy goth pop. This is yet another album that got a hold of me this year and made me keep coming back for more.









#37 Alvvays - Alvvays (Polyvinyl)
Another album I couldn't resist liking. I tried but I just couldn't resist. Toronto twee in the spirit of Best Coast and Vivian Girls. Twee is often too cute and sincere for some people to handle. But I will always have a special place in my heart for these bands.










#38 LiteratureChorus (Slumberland)
This band sounds something like a Sarah Records version of The Housemartins, The Smiths, James and The Lightning Seeds. But of course they are from Philadelphia and not the UK. Catchy and melodic twee style pop.










#39 Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar)
I was pleasantly surprised when I first listened to Angel Olsen. She sort of sounds somewhere between a Joanna Newsom mixed with a Cat Power. She uses her voice in a way that is both gentle and powerful similar to Chan Marshal of Cat Power. I think everyone is falling in love with Angel Olsen this year.








#40 Fear Of Men - Loom (Kanine Records)
The Cranberries are back! Actually this is just Fear Of Men. But they could easily be mistaken for the vocals of Dolores O'Riordan. The album is a sort of perfect little pop masterpiece. Takes me back to the indie pop 90s when there were more bands like this. The Sundays, The Softies, Heavenly and Velocity Girl.









#41 Lemonade - Minus Tide (Cascine)
I was also a fan of their last album a couple of years ago. I am pretty much happy when anyone decides to combine 90s dance music and 80s synthpop with 70s soft rock. The vocals are smooth and silky and the music is dancey and beachy. I love these guys and am just glad somebody is making music like this.









#42 Brett - Brett (Cascine)
Cascine has another great band in their hands. Brett is another 80s synth influence band. Like a 90s version of Human League or Erasure. Like a more ethereal version of Holy Ghost! A perfect album for summer to go along with Cascine label mates Lemonade.










#43 The Proper Ornaments - Wooden Head (Slumberland)
Slumberland rarely lets me down. These guys are like The Lemonheads combined with The Jesus & Mary Chain. A shoegaze Pavement mixed with a Psychedelic Simon & Garfunkle. It should be no surprise that this band features one of the member of Veronica Falls.








#44 Cherry Glazerr- Haxel Princess (Burger Records)
So this band is of course named after the great Chery Glaser of NPR. It is a great name and I am glad somebody named themselves after her. This might be California's version of Veronica Falls. A garage dream pop hybrid. An incredibly addictive band with a perfect name.








#45 Flowers - Do What You Want To, It's What You Should Do (Kanine Records)
Angelic vocals mixed with jangly pop. A bit of shoegaze mixed with a bit of 90s twee. This band is not too different than there UK label mates Fear of Men. Maybe without the Cranberries vocals. This was the music of my college days so or course I will keep coming back to it. I just can't resist these catchy songs.








#46 VANIISH - Memory Work (Metropolis)
VANIISH features members of Soft Moon and Wax Idols. They sound like Joy Division & Pornography era Cure mixed with The Death Cult. Dark wave spooky synth rock. Another good late at night driving album.










gold zebra#47 Gold Zebra - Gold Zebra (Visage Musique)
They might be Montreal's version of The Chromatics. Dreamy breathy vocals over dark synthy electronics. A Beautiful put together album full of spooky late night songs. Most of the album is in English but there is some french dreamy vocals on some of the songs.









#48 A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent (Lefse Records)
I always end of feeling like I am in a druggy haze when I listen to this record. Similar to LA shoegaze pioneers Medicine. Dreamy and loopy songs that seems to take you over as you start listening to them. This is the bands fourth album and I have been following them since they started with Scribble Mural Comic Journal in 2007. Always happy to jump into one of these albums.







#49 Donovan BlancDonovan Blanc (Captured Tracks)
I really liked this album when it came out this summer but I almost forgot how much I liked it. Melancholy pop music that somehow combines a sort of 70s pop feeling with a modern twist. The songs are all beautiful and atmospheric. Another great album brought to you by the great label Captured Tracks.








#50 Sleep Thieves - You Want The Night (Minty Fresh)
A fantastic album of synthpop from Ireland. Features a super fun mix of 80s soundtrack era style songs and dark wave. Singer Sorcha Brennan could be the Irish version of Robyn or Kylie Minogue. A dream pop version of Crystal Castles.



 

50 Essential Albums Released in 2014

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 5, 2014 09:20am | Post a Comment

Aaron Detroit, Buyer at Amoeba Hollywood. I've worked in Hollywood for ten years, but started my time with Amoeba - way back in 1998 -  at the San Francisco store. Here is my extensive list of new essential listening, released in 2014. There is a wide range of genres and artists represented here because musical passion should not be static.





1. Swans - To Be Kind (Young God)
To Be Kind, Swans’ 3rd LP since their 2010 reformation (and 13th overall,) is an unlikely triumph after 2012’s seemingly unmatchable masterpiece, The Seer. Any trepidation one might have about the sprawling triple-LP’s intimidating track lengths should evaporate under it’s hypnotizing ebb-and-flow of mental blues, super-honed grooves, manic clatter and hushed passages; all of which are eventually crushed by monolithic waves of majesty. Nothing short of classic.



 2. Carla Bozulich - Boy (Constellation)
Boy is Carla Bozulich’s (of Ethyl Meatplow, Geraldine Fibbers and Evangelista-renown) 3rd solo affair, but in a lot of ways it feels like her first. Bozulich pours her famed, devastating whiskey-voice into a cocktail of funeral country, death blues and industrial noise that sticks to your guts. Carla herself refers to this LP as her “pop record,” and if that's a true description, we could sure use a whole lot more “pop” albums like Boy. Don’t overlook this one.



3. Scott Walker + Sunn O))) - Soused (4AD)
If you’re looking for the classic Sunn O))) sound, you should look elsewhere. Soused is to its bones a Scott Walker album -- wild, weird and wonderful. Walker’s baritone swan dives into cascading riffs that eventually ebb into low hums and sudden fits of industrial noise; a perfect fit for the album’s lyrical narratives of violence and oppression. Despite all this, it is bizarrely accessible --so far as modern day Walker LPs go.



4. Andy Stott - Faith In Strangers (Modern Love)
Composer/producer Andy Stott once again collaborates with vocalist Alison Skidmore. Strangers takes us on a late-night drive through varying auditory terrains: Minimal, long, tone pieces make their way through field recordings and cut-up ethereal vocals before a beat even drops halfway into the second track. By the second half of the nearly hour-long LP, Stott eventual begins to work up a sweat. Lively and dissonant yet beautiful and otherworldly, the album rides a line between chopped-and-screwed 4AD and bonkers analogue jams but remains skillfully cohesive.


5. Mica Levi - Under The Skin (OST) (Milan)
Typically, one would not include a film score on a year-end albums list, but Mica Levi’s score for Under The Skin is quite the exception. The score does just what the title suggests: it gets under your skin. Ligeti-inspired string orchestrations center around the same three notes throughout. Sometimes they appear as a comfort after long passages of dark pulses and dry wind, but more often the notes unsettle as they sweep back in out of darkness; the herald of “something-wicked-this-way-comes.” Even without the stellar film visuals (also one of the best of the year,) the score works all on it’s own as a spellbinding piece.


6. Wild Beasts - Present Tense (Domino)
 Wild Beasts are all grown up. It sounds sort of cliché, but Present Tense makes no qualms about that point. Gone is the horny hooting and howling of Two Dancers and Smother and in its place is an emotional and existential folk that sugars it’s eccentricities with sleek pop production --the sort that Kate Bush mined on Hounds of Love.




 7. Fatima Al Qadiri Asiatisch (Hyperdub)
Fatima Al Qadiri builds a dark, grand, video game-like world on Asiatisch. The artist herself calls this sonic landscape an ‘imagined China.’ One cobbled together from modern western media perspectives of the East, commenting on its racism, villainization and exoticism. Pan flutes and gongs meet crisp digital grime production and lyrics mocking Disney. It’s an album that challenges your own enjoyment of it.




8. Perfume Genius - Too Bright (Matador)
On Too Bright, producer Adrian Utley (of Portishead-fame) helps Mike Hadreas puts some pretty sick f—me pumps on the feet of Perfume Genius’ once delicate balladry. Sometimes he dons Alan Vega’s shades or PJ Harvey’s gold lamé (Harvey collaborator John Parish appears on nearly every track.) Too Bright is a surprising, successful progression from one of the most honest and compelling young songwriters around.



9. Mirel Wagner - When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day (Sub Pop)
When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day is the sound of the Finland-based singer/songwriter Mirel Wagner mastering the style of death balladry she introduced on her striking and stark 2011 self-titled debut. Wagner embellishes her guitar/voice arrangements very little here, adding only a bit of cello & piano (courtesy of Craig Armstrong) to just two of the album’s ten darkly gorgeous, mortality-obsessed tracks.



10. Vessel - Punish, Honey (Tri Angle)
It’s not really fair to call Punish, Honey an “electronic” album -- it’s creator, Seb Gainsborough, built his own instruments and beat the holy hell out of sheet metal and guitars he crafted from old bicycle parts-- but it does owe a debt to industrial innovators like Fad Gadget, Coil and Einstürzende Neubauten. Despite its primitive instrumentation and 30 year-old influences, Gainsborough’s instinctive production and dubby flare make it thoroughly modern.


11. Gazelle Twin - Unflesh (Last Gang)
The music Brighton-based electronic producer Elizabeth Bernholz (aka Gazelle Twin) has crafted for her second LP, Unflesh, is a Cronenbergian dystopia -- one that she sees as an actual reflection, not a projection. Bernholz uses pitch-shifted vocals, industrial rhythms, and supermarket field-recordings to accompany her lyrical narratives concerning bodily unease in the face of corporate rule and global riots.




12. Pharmakon - Bestial Burden (Sacred Bones)
Margaret Chardiet's follow-up to her intense, confrontational and instantly classic power electronics/industrial debut. Burden builds on the layered electronics and primal energy of it’s predecessor and adds some accessibility à la the digital bonus track “Bang Bang,” a version of the oft-covered Sonny Bono track that features Chardiet‘s singing in lieu of her usual distorted screams (with an arrangement that sounds strikingly similar to the one done by industrial godfathers Coil.)




13. Weyes Blood - The Innocents (Mexican Summer)
Weyes Blood moves away from the lo-fi faux-vintage of her previous effort, (2011’s The Outside Room,) and into a classic lush folk that recalls greats like Buffy Sainte-Marie (“Requiem For Forgiveness”) or Bridget St. John (“Bad Magic”).




14. Lust For Youth - International (Sacred Bones)
 2014 delivered the unfortunate news of the break-up of the excellent Danish “super-group” VÃ¥r. Elias Bender Rønnenfelt went back to his duties in Iceage and Loke Rahbek returned to his work with Hannes Norrvide in Lust For Youth who then released the superb International. The album sounds like it could have been the sophomore VÃ¥r album, straying far from LFY’s previous lo-fi fare. The album keeps a punkish charm (mostly thanks to the vocal delivery) while still delivering well-produced synth-pop anthems and ballads alike (Rønnenfelt even makes a vocal cameo.)


15. The Body - I Shall Die Here (Rvng Intl.)
The unholy union of The Body and The Haxan Cloak’s production is fittingly titled I Shall Die Here. Both artists are masters at creating bleak sonic worlds, so it’s not surprising the collaboration returns in spades. Doom riffs, industrial noir soundscapes, distorted bass, insane shrieking and super-creep-factor spoken samples make up the best LP by The Body to-date.




16. The Soft Pink Truth - Why Do the Heathen Rage? (Thrill Jockey)
 A deconstruction, homage, and also a giant “fuck you.” Drew Daniel perverts black metal classics by the likes of Darkthrone, Scarfago and Venom into vogue-ball burners, sultry house jams, and gothic floorfillers.




17. Dan Bodan - Soft (DFA)
Berlin-based Canadian singer/songwriter Dan Bodan makes off-kilter electro-soul. His pillow-talk R&B delivery is impossibly sincere for lyrics that deal in such unapologetic, romantic mush but Soft’s production features so many unsettling and jarring elements, it evokes a sort of paradoxical unease not unlike first love stomach-butterflies.





 18. HTRK - Psychic 9-5 Club (Ghostly International)
 On Psychic 9-5 Club, Australian trio HTRK (pronounced Hate Rock) wrap their warm dubby atmospheres around the laconic yet sultry vocal delivery of singer Jonnine Standish. It’s resulting sound is a sort of “Sade goes witch house,” which is actually pretty infectious and thrilling.




19. Jane Weaver - The Silver Globe
(Finders Keepers)

Brit singer/songwriter Jane Weaver pulls from a basket of tricks left behind by Silver Apples and Hawkwind on her new cosmic folk-pop album, The Silver Globe. The album takes it’s name and is inspired by Polish director Andrzej Żuławski's film On The Silver Globe, which should give one an idea of the sort-of 1970’s krautrock/soundtrack-vibe contained within. Weaver’s pretty and air-light voice floats above the fuzzy synths and rumbling bass, producing some wonderful earworms.



20. Ben Frost - A U R O R A  (Bedroom Community / Mute)
Composer Ben Frost’s new LP is the darkest of his career thus far. Thor Harris (Swans) and Greg Fox (ex-Liturgy) collaborate on this monstrous slab of searing synths and heavy percussion, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere that eventually gives way to beautiful, somber and ethereal textures underneath all the buzz, whir and din.


21. Grouper - Ruins (Kranky)
Recorded solely with a portable 4-track, stereo mic and an upright piano, Liz Harris’ 10th album as Grouper sheds the layers of reverb of previous work for something more intimate. Ruins is the perfect rainy-day album (of which Los Angelenos can now also accurately enjoy since it’s FINALLY raining here!)





22.
Mykki Blanco - Gay Dog Food (UNO NYC)
Mykki Blanco is one of the most important figures in modern hip-hop. His lyrical sting, leftfield genre-bending, fluid gender presentation, and bold taste in production partners are all unmatched. Blanco’s rather experimental Gay Dog Food (currently only available as a digital download, but a physical release is imminent) displays seemingly unlikely collaborators Kathleen Hanna and No Bra weaved perfectly into executive producer Gobby’s aggressive electronic patchwork.


23. Sleaford Mods - Divide and Exit / Chubbed Up+ (Harbinger Sound / Ipecac Recordings)
Divide and Exit spins like the incensed rants of the bitter drunk at the end of the bar set over rollicking bass and chintzy-but-nod-worthy beats. Just about every other line is punctuated with “Fuck Off!” It’s endlessly clever and fun. The fortified singles collection, Chubbed Up+ (also released this year,) is an even better collection than the quite stellar LP itself.



 
24.
Ex Hex - Rips (Merge)
 Mary Timony (Helium, Wild Flag) returns with her best album in over a decade and easily her most accessible. Ex Hex is Timony’s smoldering trio and they play gum-snapping power pop and new wave. Rips does more than its title promises, it totally shreds.




 
25. Iceage - Plowing Into the Field of Love (Matador)
Iceage switch out their slash-and-burn style punk for a drunken, swaggering post-punk reminiscent of early Bad Seeds. It’s a surprising and much welcomed shift.






26. Harassor - Into Unknown Depths (Dais)
LA Local crew Harassor spew punky and raw black metal all over your stupid face; the kind that could only be conjured on the American Hellmouth known as Los Angeles. “Winter’s Triumph” is an adventurous highlight driven by a catchy Killing Joke-esque riff.


27. Black Rain - Dark Pool
(Blackest Ever Black)
No Wave/Industrial pioneer Stuart Argabright (Ike Yard, Dominatrix) had the luck of having a 1995 shelved industrial film score he composed under the moniker Black Rain finally see the light of day in 2012, due to the unearthing skills of UK imprint Blackest Ever Black. Argabright now picks up where he left off in ‘95 with aptly titled Dark Pool. Retro-future soundscapes and Bladerunner atmospheres are helped along by the spectral vocals of Zoe Zanias of Linea Aspera.



28. Myrkur - Myrkur (Relapse)
 One-woman ethereal black metal band, Myrkur (aka Amalie Bruun,), does not pioneer new ground for her debut, but she does a most excellent job playing with the template of second-wave Scandinavian black metal and imbuing it with a powerful femininity.


29. DonChristian - Renzo Piano (Camp & Street)
NYC- based singer/mc DonChristian gets extra amorous on his abstract R&B-flavored Renzo Piano. Taking cues from actual architecture in the construction of the songs, Don layers wordless but evocative vocalizations over his smooth come-ons. There’s also hot, hot production from Boody and The-Dream, plus the obligatory guest spot from Le1f.


 
30. Lucy - Churches, Schools and Guns
(Stroboscopic Artefacts)
Berlin-based producer Luca Mortellaro avoids anyone’s ideas about a sophomore slump wholly with his provocatively titled Churches, Schools, and Guns LP. Look no further than the 4/4 of “The Illusion of Choice” and its modular leads. The blanket descriptor for a whole lot of techno these days is “dystopian” and Churches mines that concept and mood quite well; it also pulls from deeper emotional wells on tracks like “Falling” with its repetitive airy vocals and “The Best Selling Show” with its
broken, eerie organ chords.

31. Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste

(Prospect Park)
Major labels seem bent on keeping their most adventurous pop acts from public view and remain clueless as to what even makes them special. Last year, Capitol records finally wised up and let Sky Ferreira release her fuzzy tunes, but this year’s withheld gem had to be dropped back into the arms of its creator before the public FINALLY got to hear it. Azealia Banks’ Broke with Expensive Taste has a long and storied road dating back to 2012, which is surprising considering it’s quality and uncompromising, eclectic vision. It’s the kitchen sink of Hip Hop albums featuring everything from feisty ballroom tracks to indie surf-rock. Azealia Banks rides each track flawlessly, transitioning from her playful-but-always-fierce rhyming right into confidently singing her own damn hooks.


32. FKA Twigs - LP1 (Young Turks)
 There is miles of ink about Ms. Twigs already, and for good reason – her debut album, LP1, flawlessly melds a bonkers electronic experimentalism with mainstream R&B and pop with spellbinding results.





33. The Hidden Cameras - Age
(EvilEvil)
Joel Gibbs ends The Hidden Cameras long absence by adding dub and synth-pop to the projects' patented brand of “Gay Church Folk.”




34. Xiu Xiu - Angel Guts: Red Classroom (Polyvinyl)
 It is really no surprise that the darkest of all albums Jamie Stewart has produced under his Xiu Xiu moniker was conceived and realized in Los Angeles. Don’t dance away the bad thoughts, dance to them. Xiu Xiu is Dead, Long Live Xiu Xiu!




35. Aphex Twin - Syro  (Warp)
A matured but none-the-less utterly thrilling comeback LP. As a friend of mine noted, every song in the world should have a “Syrobonkus Mix.”







 36. Meshell Ndegeocello - Comet, Come To Me (Naive)
Meshell Ndegecello has had a impeccable string of albums for two decades but she really hit a glorious stride with her first post-major label release, 2007’s The World Has Made Me The Man Of My Dreams. That stride has continued right up to this year’s excellent Comet, Come to Me. Meshell leads her band with longtime collaborator and guitarist Chris Bruce through a killer cover of Whodini’s “Friends” into tracks that recall another one of her adolescent heroes -- Prince. There’s also chunks of trippy dub, and reggae, plus homages to jazz-era Joni Mitchell.


37. Morrissey- World Peace Is None of Your Business (Harvest)
Morrissey’s comeback LP of sorts, the fantastically-titled World Peace Is None of Your Business, had a stumbling roll-out that eventually led to the ever-surly crooner leaving the label that released it. This led to its subsequent withdrawal from the market --all within in a couple months of its release. Despite the drama, it’s a fantastic set of relevant and timely songs that embellish Moz’s classic-era sound (the subtle synths are back) with occasional Flamenco guitar and mariachi horns.



38. Blonde Redhead - Barragán (Asawa Kuru LLC)
A quiet gem like Barragán can get lost or easily discarded with the instant gratification of large MP3 libraries and streaming now the norm. It’s the sort of LP that takes its time to reveal its many treasures; repeated spins of the album’s electro-pop, shoegaze riffing and chamber-folk unveil its massively rich rewards.



39. Marianne Faithfull - Give My Love To London (Easy Sound)
This is Faithfull’s best album since 2004’s PJ Harvey-produced Before The Poison and a late career peak. The sarcastically-titled Give My Love to London features gorgeous collaborations with Nick Cave, Roger Waters and Anna Calvi that perfectly suit the beautifully ravaged and ever-wise voice of Marianne.

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Amoeba Bloggers' 50 Favorite Albums of 2013

Posted by Billy Gil, December 31, 2013 02:20pm | Post a Comment

We've been compiling our Best of 2013 lists for a while now. Here's the combined efforts of Amoebloggers who submitted their favorite albums of 2013, compiled in a quasi-scientific fashion.

1. My Bloody Valentine - mbv

It should come as no surprise that the favorite record of the year from a bunch of record store geeks was My Bloody Valentine's long-awaited return with mbv.

"A year heavy with vets, but no one had anybody more excited than My Bloody Valentine (this guy included.) The logical follow-up to Loveless – 22 years later – and it’s a total stunner. mbv is MBV doing what they do best, and quite certainly, it was worth all those delays and the epic wait. It has familiarity that’s instant, but still pushes guitar rock into new terrains like no one else can." —Aaron Detroit

 

 

2. The Knife - Shaking the Habitual

The Knife's divisive fourth studio album was a favorite amongst those who were up for the challenge from the Swedish experimental duo.

"As always, The Knife mean to disturb and provoke you, and Shaking the Habitual represents their most adventurous statement to date." —Oliver/Matt/Jordan

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