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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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Amoeba Electronic's 2013 Best of LPs

Posted by Oliver / Matt / Jordan, December 19, 2013 02:58pm | Post a Comment


Thanks for supporting Amoeba and reading the Amoeba Electronic blog in 2013. Like us on Facebook for daily updates and feel free to hit us up with any requests/feedback. Without further ado, here are our Best LPs of 2013, compiled by Oliver, Matt and Jordan. 

 

ADR - Chunky Monkey LP Cover20. ADR - Chunky Monkey

Hippos In Tanks

While visual artists have been quick to adapt to the internet's Babel of information, musicians have been slow to comment directly on the vast digital buzz. Hippos In Tanks, as a label, has admirably pushed this conversation forwards while also displaying a fierce devotion to the traditional mediums of CD and vInyl. James Ferraro's "Farside Virtual" (Hippos In Tanks, 2011) was seen as a comment on emerging personality types in the face of rampant technoconsumerism, but in retrospect, can be seen as Ferraro's first step out of the cassette underground into sleeker rnb/hip-hop influenced production Gatekeeper's "Exo" had them abandoning the Carpenter-esque VHS aesthetics of their previous releases, even hiring internet artist Tabor Robak to create a playable game for reach song. The most successful effort in creating a musical analog to endless internet-meme driven communication is ADR's "Chunky Monkey". 

The record succeeds first and foremost because Aaron David Ross (1/2 of the Gatekeeper) is a completely badass producer. I woudn't be suprised if legitimate pop production is in his future based off of the seemingly effortless genre tourism on display here. Opener "Casual Friday" places  samples of sitcom saxaphones against a loping 303 and eerie processed piano that could be lifted from a Prologue release. "Sumo" seems to be an oblique comment on 90s boom-bap, while "What It Takes" could be lifted from a sinister Sprite commercial. "Stray Dog Strut" could be seen as ADR's reading of Sly and Robbie digidub, but in this tune, the comment on internet culture is palpable. In the midst of innocuous and expertly produced genre-exercises, ADR is prone to interrupt with unsettling samples (e.g. a screaming chorus of roller coaster riders) to fray the edges. The effect has an uncanny resemblance to cruising through life with 15 tabs open.

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50 Essential Albums Released in 2013

Posted by Aaron Detroit, November 30, 2013 02:45pm | Post a Comment

Aaron Detroit, Buyer at Amoeba Hollywood. I've worked in Hollywood for nine 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 2013. There is a wide range of genres and artists represented here because musical passion shouldn't be static!

1. The Knife - Shaking the Habitual
   


After a seven-year hiatus (not including 2010’s collaborative opera with Matt Sims and Planningtorock,) the Swedish sister/brother duo crafted something utterly singular with this sprawling, conceptual, yet immensely thrilling triple-LP. Habitual lyrically challenges gender constructs and unchecked privilege against visceral (and sometimes monstrous) techno that also refuses any box you throw over it. 

 

These New Puritans Field of Reeds



2. These New Puritans - Field of Reeds
   
 No guitars, no dubstep breaks, no angular post-punk posturing. Jack Barnett & Co. look to 20th century composers and Fado for inspiration on their third LP. Woodwinds, brass, field recordings, a magnetic resonator piano and additional vocals from Portuguese vocalist Elisa Rodrigues move TNP into a whole other category of artist, far away from the faceless NME hordes they once mingled with. 
 
3. David Bowie - The Next Day
 
 David Bowie The Next DayQuite honestly, it’s his best since his last great LP --33 years ago--Scary Monsters. This isn’t anything but Bowie being himself, but the emotional weight of his lyrics give the new tracks a vitality missing from much of his work in the previous decade. It’s exhilarating throughout, with most of his famous tropes (Space!!) sounding somehow fresh. New classics like the title track, “Dirty Boys,” the Scott Walker-nodding “Heat,” plus the stellar Bowie-doing-Morrissey-doing-his-best-Bowie moment on “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die.” 
 

Holden The Inheritors

 4.
Holden - The Inheritors
 
  Like The Knife, James Holden took a 7-year sabbatical before unveiling this wonderfully odd auditory landscape…with no sign of a dancefloor anywhere. Mystical and emotive electronic trips from the earth to the stars – complete with modular synth, saxophone freakouts and pagan chants. 
 

5. M.I.A. - Matangi
  
I’m completely mystified by folks’ general reaction to this album. By my estimation, this is a perfect balance of everything M.I.A. has done up until now with one foot forward. Its sequence focuses on keeping the party going, while Maya’s taunts, one-liners and rhymes are sharper than ever. Modern music needs M.I.A.!
 

 
 


 6. Pharmakon - Abandon Pharmakon Abandon
   
 Intense, confrontational and instantly classic power electronics/industrial from NYC’s Margaret Chardiet. The maggots on the LP jacket should warn you that Pharmakon is not everyone’s type of racket. Somewhere in a neighboring universe of Throbbing Gristle, early Diamanda Galas, and Prurient.
 
 
 

7. Vår - No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers
    Vår No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers
A romantic post-punk and melancholic industrial-pop LP from members of Iceage, Sexdrome, and Lust for Youth. An aural salute to young manhood and male bonding with nods to mid-80’s Coil and early The Cure. 
 
 






Forest Swords Engravings
8. Forest Swords - Engravings
   
Brit producer Matthew Barnes’ aural universe on Engravings is all at once creepy, dreary and lovely.  Dubby beats, spidery (and occasionally doomy) guitar-lines, glitchy and ghostly voices make this your new essential rainy day listening.
 
 
 
 
 

The Body Christs, Redeemers
9. The Body - Christs, Redeemers
 
  Portland-based two-piece The Body create a soundtrack for some sort of celestial hell; that is, music perfectly evocative of its time and space - Armageddon music, y’all. Desperate shrieking, angelic choirs, and sinister samples weave around cavalcades of riffs, drones, weighted pounding and tribal drumming. Once again includes help from members of The Assembly of Light choir.
     



10. Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band - Take Me to the Land of Hell
     
If your opinion on Yoko Ono is of the Boomer-constructed variety --Yoko Ono Take Me to the Land of Hell the antiquated B.S. that she broke up the Beatles and her music is just “a bunch of screaming”— this particular list is NOT for you. Now, if this album would be your first foray into the musical world of Ono, then it’s a really great place to start. Despite the LP’s sticker big-upping her various collaborators here, it’s a Yoko album through-and-through (though co- producer Yuka Honda – of Cibo Matto - clearly understands Ono’s strong suits.) Hell easily stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of her 1970’s work when she first took the avant garde to pop audiences. From angular and punky workouts to chilling personal ballads to funky political polemics, this is (just like Bowie) her best album in 30 –odd years. Very few really have the ability to so successfully straddle the line of profundity and absurdity like Yoko, and Hell demonstrates that quite well.
 

11. My Bloody Valentine - mbv
   My Bloody Valentine  
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.



Grouper The Man Who Died in His Boat
 
 

12.
Grouper - The Man Who Died in His Boat
   
 Gorgeous, ethereal hymns. Liz Harris’s companion piece (of sorts) to 2008’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill… is her most accessible work to date and her most infectious while maintaining Grouper’s aural haze and dark themes (The title track is based on a true story of young Harris finding a dead body.)
 
 

13. Humanbeast - Venus Ejaculates into the Banquet
     Humanbeast
This gender-subverting Rhode Island duo formerly dealt mostly in brutal sonics. Now they have traded-in the ear-splittin’ for body-movin’ to brilliant results. Most surprising here are the gorgeous slow burner beat-laden ballads. The house diva on a bed of nails or the gospel singer wrapped in dirty, dirty sheets!






 John Grant Pale Green Ghosts
14. John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts
     
On his sophomore solo album, John Grant teamed up with Biggi Veira from Gus Gus to craft  an album that rockets him far above the heights of  his solo debut and his work with his former band, Czars. Dark orchestration, synths, and his always confessional lyrics propel the standout title track, but elsewhere he mines some 70's AM Gold while getting his hateration on with ‘I Hate this Town.’ Alternating on the axis of “ wry” and “soul-crushing.”
 

 15. Primal Scream - More Light
     Primal Scream More Light
Bobby Gillespie & Co. made one of their finest LPs of their career with More Light. It’s a very fine-tuned LP that succeeds at the cohesive weave of all Primal Scream’s disparate parts and genre-hopping form year’s past. The album easily stands next to career high-points like Xtrmntr and Screamadelica, Urgent political electro-rock with noice Psych furs-esque sax hooks and awesome guest spots from Mark Stewart of The Pop Group.
 

Cakes da Killa
 
 

16. Cakes Da Killa - The Eulogy
     
The Eulogy’s opening verse (after a crazy, pitched-up ‘MacArthur Park’ intro) is hard! Much in the same way Lil’ Kim announced herself to the world at the front of Hardcore. An important artist for the 21st Century; just getting started.
 

17. Factory Floor - Factory Floor
       
I know everyone was busy groovin’ to Daft Punk, but Factory Floor’s debut full-length was the album that induced body-spasms in my household. Think: Chris & Cosey with a little speed in their tea.
 






Death Grips
18. Death Grips - Government Plates
     
 As with their major label contract-killing  LP, No Love Deep Web,  Death Grips  released a new LP in November  with no lead-up hype and as a free download. Government Plates opens with the sound of a bottle breaking, signaling that the LA Based-duo is about to cut your throat. Like M.I.A.’s Matangi it’s a challenging first listen due to its uncharted electronic terrain full of twists, sharp, sharp turns and dead stops, but it’s a far, far darker ride. It inevitably leads you to obsessive listening as the tracks reveal their glitchy, sneaky and unconventional hooks. The vocals are more chopped, pitched and fucked-with than ever before, yet the album feels like the most cohesive statement the band has made thus far. There is no blueprint here, Death Grips are obliterating everything in front of them to form their own path. 
 

19. Jessie Evans - Glittermine
Jessie Evans Glittermine
     
It’s been a few years since Evan’s solo debut, Is It Fire?. She has spent the time globe-trotting, relentlessly playing shows, and honing her craft which her sophomore solo record, Glittermine, readily showcases. Snaky horn sections glide over icy-synth stabs, roller-disco, dubby & jazzy grooves and Evan’s sexy and optimistic beckoning. 
 


Teeth of the Sea



20. Teeth of the Sea - Master
     
Master is the perfect title for this ferocious untameable beast, UK quartet Teeth of the Sea’s ’s 3rd and definitively best album. A sprawling collage of sounds including eerie synthed-out Krautrock, Sci-Fi jams, ambient drone excursions, blasts of white noise and metallic riffing -sometimes all within the same song. 
 
 
 
21. Merchandise - Totale Nite
   Merchandise Totale Nite
Lengthy, sometimes psychedelic, somewhat nebulous, but always meaty rock tracks laced with crooner Carson Cox’s languid lyric swallowing. Sort of like listening to 1980’s college radio with fuzzy reception, Ian Astbury's and Morrissey's vocals blending together over some JAMC jam coming in from a different station. 

 




No Bra Candy
22.  No Bra - Candy
     
There has been a long hiatus in output from performance artist Susanne Oberbeck aka No Bra. 2006’s club hit “Munchausen” and  its follow-up album,  Dance and Walk, were ironic and wry minimal wave. This year’s “Candy” was somewhat of a surprise release after the long absence, but also a revelation since Oberbeck has adopted a more traditional guitar-bass-drum set-up for the lumbering no-wave sound on the album; most likely influenced by her new adopted city of New York. No Bra lets you know what you’re in for on the album’s stand-out track, “Date With The Devil”: “The Devil said ‘Sing me one of your songs’ I said, ‘Well, they’re not really songs, more like shouting!”  The one Arthouse-sex-horror-comedy-industrial-no-wave album you need this year.
 

23. Prurient - Through The Window
    
The sister album to 2011’s Bermuda Drain. Dominick Fernow’s own instuctions for his foray into late-night techno: “Listen at night in the hills watching as headlights approach.” 3 Tracks, 32 minutes. Perfection. 
 
 







24. Le1f - Fly Zone / Tree House
     
For me, hip-hop this year was all about Cakes, Mykki Blanco and NYC’s Le1f. He’s crazy prolific, having released two full-length “mixtapes” this year. (I put mixtapes in quotes because in the world of queer hip-hop the mixtape has become shorthand for “free album.”) Fly Zone is the slightly fiercer of the two.  Breezy rhymes over subterranean grooves that are as experimental as they are ear-worms. "I am whatever you say I am/ Stop worrying about how gay I am."
 

25. Kirin J Callinan - Embracism
    Kirin J Callinan   
Embracism is confusing as it is infectious.  It’s part tongue-in-cheek piss-take, part serious artistic statement.  Aussie guitarist/vocalist Callinan distills all the famous frontmen from his homeland (from Cave to Hutchence) into a wickedly affecting brew--sneer and smirk alike. 
 
 

Boards of Canada Tomorrow's Harvest





26. Boards Of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
     
Boards of Canada’s long, long-awaited Tomorrow’s Harvest is a doomsday soundtrack that makes you excited for the inevitable future days of the Arizona Bay.  Evocative of all the sci-fi, apocalyptic and horror films of your youth, giving nostalgic pings with its front-and-center Carpenter-esque synth work. 
 

 27. Leila Abdul-Rauf - Cold and Cloud
     Leila Abdul-Rauf
Grey weather listening.  Abdul –Rauf normally makes racket in much heavier projects (Vastum, Hammers of Misfortune, Saros, Amber Asylum) but on Cloud, she employs piano, brass and ethereal vocals to make the perfect soundtrack for a dreary day, even if that weather is just in your head. 
 


Stara Rzeka



28. Stara Rzeka - Cie? chmury nad ukrytym polem
   An EPIC blend of folk, kraut, black metal and Nico worship. You will not hear anything else like this in 2013, and likely not after…unless it’s from this Polish one-man band. 
 

29. Deerhunter - Monomania
      Deerhunter Monomania
Monomania is the first LP by Deerhunter since they revamped their line-up, and so it makes sense that this is a slightly different animal than their previous offerings. It’s noisey as hell and blatantly queer yet still manages to be their most consistently accessible LP to-date. 
 
 
 
 



Lisa Germano No Elephants

30. Lisa Germano - No Elephants
   
Germano’s 10th full-length was quietly released early in 2013 by Badman Recording Co. (She’s only on the coolest of labels – previous homes for her earlier releases were 4AD and Michael Gira’s Young God) to almost no fan-fare. Germano has never sold-out the house or gone platinum, but has consistently put out exciting, innovative and experimental LPs for over 2 decades. No Elephants is no different; its motif is built around iPhone ringtones and the random buzzing created by amps or PA speakers when a cellphone is placed too near. Her voice weaves through the sounds in its delicate rasp. It's unlikely you'll hear such magical and interesting pop music elsewhere. I deeply hope Germano is making music for more decades to come. 
 

31. Miles - Faint Hearted
      Miles Faint Hearted
Miles Whittaker --one-half of Demdike Stare but also known for his work with Andy Stott in Millie and Andrea—made exactly the sort of electronic record I’m a total sucker for; culling inspiration from my favorite early 90’s heavyweights Aphex Twin and Plastikman as well as occasionally throwing-in some Krautrock & Neoclassical flavors. 
 

 


Autre Ne Veut

32. Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety
     
Autre Ne Veut, the off-kilter electronic-soul project of NYC’s Arthur Ashin, seemed like it initially existed to deconstruct R&B-flavored pop or maybe even as a slight piss-take. But Autre Ne Veut’s second long play revels in the genre rather than pulling it apart. Ashin’s falsetto often reaches beyond its boundaries. It's enough to make the listener blush; as if we you had just caught him in front of the mirror –hairbrush microphone in hand --  singing along to R. Kelly at the top of his lungs. 
 
 
33. The Heliocentrics - 13 Degrees of Reality
    The Heliocentrics
  UK Psych-Jazz collective that take cues from Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane and the like but add their own modern magick for our paranoid, post-9/11 world. 
 



Nick Cave Push the Sky Away




34. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
   
  Warren Ellis And Nick Cave’s prolific soundtrack work seems to have heavily seeped into The Bad Seeds, breathing a welcomed new icy-cool atmosphere into the beloved institution. 
 
 

35. Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My TimeSky Ferreira Night Time, My Time
    
You really won’t find another straight-up pop record from 2013 this friggin’ good. Big, BIG Benatar choruses juxtaposed against new-wave riffing, pulsing Suicide-esque rhythms and production notes cribbed from Bowie’s Low. Apparently, it took some 5 years to convince her label to record and release this album. The label then inexplicably shelved any plans to release the album physically (though plenty of “promotional” CDs are floating around) instead Ferreira’s pop masterpiece got a soft digital release. Regardless of format, if you need a big pop sugar-rush -- Ferreira’s got the hook-up.
 

Author & Punisher
36. Author & Punisher - Women & Children
       
Killer one-man industrial havoc ala Godflesh and Skinny Puppy from mechanical engineer Tristan Shone.  When I first heard his music, I wondered why it sounded so fresh to me even though its influences are so obviously pulled from the era when metal and industrial were forging their first unholy unions in the fiery pits of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Turns out, Shone makes the music on his albums with self-fabricated instruments that give his tracks those unique layers of sound. 
 

37. Dalhous - An Ambassador For Laing
 Dalhous
Dalhous’s debut LP is a great companion album to BOC’s Tomorrow’s Harvest. It conjures up much of the same apocalyptic imagery, but with it’s own path through the eroding landscape; a complex and exciting patchwork of samples and breakbeats.
 

 



The Asphodells
38. The Asphodells - Ruled By Passion, 
Destroyed By Lust
   
  Most would likely remember Andrew Weatherall from his popular early 90’s remixes for acts like Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine. The Asphodells is Weatherall’s collaboration with Timothy J. Fairplay and it’s not all that far removed from those heyday mixes; New Order-esque melodic funk, Acid squelches, WaxTrax! Beats, dubby bass, BLISS!
 

39. Janelle Monáe - The Electric Lady
   Janelle Monae  

Monae continues her far-out Sci-fi-Soul Metropolis song-cycle; following the continuing saga of "archandroid" Cindi Mayweather on Suites 4 & 5: The Electric Lady. She enlists some serious help from like-minded heavy-hitters (Prince, Erykah Badu, Miguel and Solange ) with infectious results. Her duet with Badu, “Q.U.E.E.N.,” is easily one of the year’s best singles. 
 


Melt Yourself Down



40. Melt Yourself Down - Melt Yourself Down 
     
 Pete Wareham’s MYD is a hot stew of North African rhythms, no-wave skronk, optimistic sloganeering and electronic peppering. 
 
      

41. The Haxan Cloak - Excavation 
     The Haxan Cloak

Music made to listen to alone in the dark. Bobby Krlic’s soundscapes are sinister but somehow inviting all the same.  
 
 


 



42. Throwing Muses - Purgatory/Paradise 
     
Their first album in a decade and it’s a monstrous 32 tracks. All the more to love. This is some of Kristin Hersh’s strongest studio work in years and despite its intimidating tracklist size, it’s a consistently gripping spin. Packaged in a lovely hardback book with essays by Hersh and graphic design by drummer Dave Narcizo.
 


43. Mazzy Star - Seasons of Your Day
    Mazzy Star
  Like MBV, Mazzy Star pulled off a supernatural comeback with a didn’t-miss-a-beat LP after a near two-decade absence. Hope Sandoval’s voice is the warm blanket it’s always been while David Roback continues to construct blue-tinted daydreams with his guitar.  
 
 
 



 
Satellit Transister44. Satelliti - Transister
      Italian synth/drums duo’s experimental jazzy krautrock (or is that Krautrock-y jazz?) tangents. Great, mind-melting companion listening with The Heliocentrics and Melt Yourself Down. 
 
 

45. Asia Argento - Total Entropy
 Asia Argento
   If you’re the sort of pop culture personality that Asia Argento is – actress, director, DJ, Giallo royalty etc. – this is exactly the sort of album you should make. A super fun and weird genre-hopping ride (from dancefloor to Lee & Nancy-style duets to psychedelic ballads) with lots of established collaborators; not unlike like recent efforts by Charlotte Gainsbourg, but maybe with a little bit more of a punk sneer. 

 


Holograms
46. Holograms - Forever
     
Bigger and better second LP from cherubic Swedish dudes putting a charming, romantic spin on the ol’ Killing Joke blueprint. 


47. Savages - Silence Yourself 
   Savages Silence Yourself
  This record was a grower for me. Its  influences (The Banshees, Joy Division, Patti Smith) so obvious at first that they were a distraction from the album’s ferocity and vital juices. Sure, innovative it is not but it’s passion and idealism is refreshing and exhilarating in the current pop music sea of nihilism and brand pushing.
 






48. Raspberry Bulbs - Deformed Worship
     
Rasberry Bulbs is Marco del Rio from Bone Awl’s project, so it often gets mislabeled ‘Black Metal.’ But Deformed Worship has more in common with late ‘80s Sub Pop singles: Lo-fi, raw, aggressive and influenced by metal as much as it is by The Stooges, Joy Division and Black Flag. 
 

49. Dva Damas - Nightshade
     Dva Damas
Reverb-drenched guitars that give off a campy-but-dark Cramps-vibe, detached-but-sexy vox, and minimal electronic beats make-up this much-welcomed debut from LA duo Dva Damas. 
 

 





Tropic of Cancer
50. Tropic of Cancer - Restless Idylls
 
 Ghostly ethereal, buried vocals move languidly through icy post-punk, captivating shoegaze and funeral hymns on Camella Lobo’s first proper LP. 
 
 
 


Honorable Mentions (Other worthwhile listening):
 
 
People at Parties
 
 
 
TOP 15 EPs:

 

1.                     Mykki Blanco Betty Rubble: The Initiation

2.                               The Body Master, We Perish
3.                                Katie Gately Katie Gately
4.              John Foxx and The Belbury Circle Empty Avenues
5.                                     Zebra Katz DRKLNG
6.                               NCW vs. Piss Golden Lands
7.                                   Soap&Skin Sugarbread
8.                                        Rainer Veil Struck
9.                       Pye Corner Audio Superstitious Century
10.                                             Anika Anika
11.                              Joey Casio Daybreak / Ignite
12.                              Pale Sketcher Just Won’t Sing
13.                                            Worn Feminist
14.                                             Moin Moin
15.                                        Miles Unsecured
 

Now This Is A Young Man's Summer Vacation

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 9, 2013 11:00pm | Post a Comment

Now this is a young man's summer vacation..

To someone who works as much as I do, summer is just a mere acknowledgement than a season. For instance, It is summer because it’s hot. It’s summer because the sun is out later and it’s because people are wearing less clothing. There is no summer vacations or lightening of loads for this working guy, just a little more sweat than usual.

However, this year I did take a summer vacation from this blog. The plan was to reenergize and come up with a fresh perspective of what to write about and whether I should continue to do so. It really hasn’t worked. Almost four months later, I still struggle in front of the computer thinking what I should write about. Clearly, there are better writers than myself, not only from all the great music blogs, newspapers and magazines from around the world, but within our pool of talented writers that work for Amoeba as well. They can write about the same artists and genres that I can, and with more eloquence and detail. Still, I don’t think that most of these writers have their hands in as many musical pies as I do. I came to realize that is my strength. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m the equivalent of one of those annoying foodies that can pontificate about the wonders of food cooked with liquid nitrogen then geek out on KFC Mac & Cheese. In the end, that what keeps me writing about music, the simple love of it.

So, I made it a point to listen to more music than usual, not pigeonhole myself and just enjoy what I enjoy. The following are some releases I really dug over the summer.


James Holden’s Inheritors and Destruction Unit’s Deep Trip

I listened to lots of Hawkwind, Can, Cluster and artists of that ilk over the summer. Likewise, I listened to all the bands that followed them, such as The Damned, The Stranglers, and Magazine. When I first heard my favorite late seventies/early 80’s punk bands, I had no idea how much they were influenced by Space and Kraut rock groups until I discovered them myself. Then it all made sense to me.

I’m not into retro bands that try to imitate the bands from that era. I don’t see the point. However, I love it when artists borrow from that era to take their music to another level. James Holden Inheritors is that thought process, taking electronic music not only to the days of Cluster and Popol Vuh, but to the days where musicians were trying to link into a pre-colonial past that they never knew. Inheritors can come off as imperfect at times but that is its charm. I love Holden’s use of analog instruments that have their own agenda mixed with the technology of today to keep it from going completely off the rails. It’s hard to describe their sound without making reference to some obscure 70’s electronic group. However, Holden shares the same sense of spatial concept with groups like Boards Of Canada. That is if Boards Of Canada took acid in the forest for weeks on end.

Destruction Unit has than Hawkwind lineage without trying to sound like them. In fact, their lineage comes from all the bands that were influenced by Hawkwind throughout the years. The former members of The Reatards that make this group lay it on heavy. It’s bad trip music but oh so good at the same time. The songs drone without boredom, like an amphetamined Spaceman 3 with layers of wah-petal and distortion. The best thing about Destruction Unit is that at the core, the music t is punk. While the psychedelia lies thick, the punk is there to slap you awake from a psychedelic slumber.

Matias Aguayo The Visitor  CD/ LP

I loved Aguayo’s last album, Ay Ay Ay and his style of sampling his own vocals to create his own sound. This time around, it’s less of the vocal sampling experimentations and more sounds of his environment. I’m not taking about nature sounds, but sounds that one hears on the urban streets everyday. I can help to think that moving back to South America has shaped his last two albums become less Eurocentric and more about the Americas. Still, much like The Meridian Brothers, who studied experimental music in Europe and now mixes it with the sounds of their native Colombia, it’s best not to shed all the layers of experimentation in order to be pure. The Visitor shows Aguayo complexities as a person. One who listens to traditional music. One who likes the band, Suicide. A person that likes mainstream pop music as well as hits from the hood. Someone who can take all those influences, mix them up and make for a great party record, albeit a party for weirdoes, freaks and nerds. I seriously not liked an album like this as since Manu Chao’s Clandestino, and that’s saying a lot.


Quantic & Ana Tijoux - Doo Woop (That Thing) / Entre Rejas (Sold Out)

Allow me to talk crap about the company that writes my check. Every year, Quantic comes out with something cool and limited. Every year, Amoeba only gets a few copies and then we get a billion phone calls asking for it. Before I get a ton of grief from the buyers, I do know in some cases, there are limited numbers each store can carry worldwide and there is nothing we can do about it. But when you get only three copies and one of them is the copy I will buy, then the chance of someone else getting it is now down 33.3%. By noon of release date, it’s “tough luck kid, sold out.” I figure we could throw out our, “Hey, we are Amoeba, we are the biggest record store in the world, send us more than three copies!” card and perhaps get more. But I digress.

I know the Lauryn Hill cover is all over the Internet and it’s quite good, but it’s the b-side, “Entre Rejas” which just slays me. It’s probably my favorite of all Lisandro Mesa’s songs, now with classic Hip-Hop beat and Ana Tijoux singing and not rapping, the lyrics. Already a great MC, Tijoux’s vocals has gotten stronger over he last few years. Natural phrasing is something that all MC should have. It’s that lineage to jazz vocalists and in the case of Latin American rappers, a link to the great Cumbia, Trova and Jarocho singers that improve just like Jazz singers. Had Mercedes Sosa been born in the time of Hip-Hop, maybe she would have been a MC? Anyways, if you can find the single, get it.

Steely Dan Aja

So this is my KFC Mac & Cheese segment. All summer while doing the mundane task of pricing used CDs, I listened to Steely Dan’s Aja on repeat. Part of it was to listen to something familiar to complete the task in hand. When I listen to something new, I want to dissect it and the next thing I know I’m listening and not working. Aja is exactly forty minutes long. By the time I get to the song, “Home At Last”, I better be rapping up a bin of priced world music CDs.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have thoughts in my head, but the thoughts in my head ended just as soon as the song did. Thoughts like, “I wonder what the women Donald Fagan sang about in the song, “Black Cow” looks like? I pictured her as a brunette with deep sunken eyes. Other thoughts, “I wonder what kind of car Deacon Blue drives?” “What does Peg’s 8”X !0” glossy promo picture look like? How is she posed?” “What the real name of the angular banjo instrument they talk about in the song, “Aja”?” I bet it’s not a Chinese instrument, it a Japanese instrument! Somehow I pictured Josie living in Jersey.
Whatever the case was, I soon was done with pricing the CDs and I was off to my next task.

A few weeks ago on a whim, my friend Jeremy and I decide to get tickets to see Steely Dan at The Nokia Theater the day of the show. I didn’t know it at the time I got the tickets, but they were going to play the whole Aja album in its entirety. When I found out, I was pretty jazzed. It was like it was meant to be. From the first notes of “Black Cow,” the first track off the Aja album, I was stoked. The musicians were amazing, as you would expect and Fagan’s voice hung strong. But after awhile, I didn’t know what to do without my pricing gun. All I knew is that after forty minutes or so, this experience will be over and I couldn’t hit repeat. I struggled with the “hits” portion of the program, as I’m not much of a fan of their earlier material. However, I felt a cleansing, like I quit cigarettes, coffee, booze and drugs at the same time. I felt I didn’t need that crutch of Aja to get through the day. When I return to work, I took the Aja CD out of the CD Walkman and I was ready for the next adventure. Maybe Chicago’s Greatest Hits??

June 15 - New Electronic/ Dance CD Releases

Posted by Oliver / Matt / Jordan, June 15, 2010 01:18pm | Post a Comment



Wolfgang Voigt
Freiland Klaviermusik
Kompakt

Wolfgang Voigt returns to stranj for his left-of-center Kompakt label offshoot, Profan. As GAS, Voigt composed ethereal, blue-hued, deep-forest metaphysical techno 'head music', but now under his own name he injects the dance floor with a dose of well tempered madness. If you like your techno birthed out of a slightly crooked disposition, thought provoking and borderline psychotic, please check this out.












Ellen Allien
Dust
BPitch Corp

Berlin's first lady of techno drops a solid release for 2010. Her trademark razor-sharp spooky production is complete with bleeps n bells, throbbing bass house, squidgy electro tech-pop, and even what could be taken as an homage to the Exorcist theme.











Ichisan and Nakova
Yugo Tempo
Nang

Between them, duo Ichisan & Nakova have toured the cream of the new disco stables with releases on Nang, Eskimo and Airtight. They present their debut album together for Nang, collecting thirteen Balkan disco grooves spiked with sparkling spacewise synths, cosmic guitar licks and dubbed basslines for the connoisseurs. Fans of Lindstrom, Ilija Rudman or Todd Terje should have a peek.









Actress
Splazsh
Honest Jons

This album signifies two important points; firstly, the fact that Honest Jon's are putting this out at all acknowledges Mr Cunningham's place in the lineage of potentially classic Afrofuturistic music, from George Clinton through Prince and Shake Shakir; and secondly, a major maturity and cohesion in his sound. If you want music that enhances or removes you from your own reality like the most visceral sci-fi novel or confirms that there is a sprawling future beyond the stasis of too much modern music, this is just absolutely vital listening!






Bottin
Discoursive Diversions
Nang

Nu-disco hero Bottin presents his first mix CD for the Nang corporation. Actually, this is a bit more than your average mix CD, as Bottin has remixed each and every track to his exacting specifications, trimming inches and measuring inside seams like a a proper hands-on Italo tailor.











Michael Mayer
Immer 3
Kompakt

For IMMER #3, Kompakt chairperson Michael Mayer gathers a charming bunch of super hero electronica all-stars for glamour as well as certifiable quality. The mix flows in and out of melodic tech-pop through lush (pop)ambient scenes, deconstructing into the gorgeously discordant and back to the dance floor with trippy house and italo smashers. Highly recommended.











Efdemin
Chicago
Dial

Connoisseurs of quality deep house take note -- Dial maintains a very respectable run of releases from Berlin's most interesting house head, Efdemin. This exquisitely crafted tribute to to the titular city is executed with sophisticated and mature gate, clean, crisp minimal tech house.













Tosca
Pony No Hassle
G-Stone

Tosca is the brainchild of Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber. They combine bass heavy, downbeat music with abstract soundscapes of found sounds, and when this formula is handed over to remixers, everything changes, from texture, dynamics, to structure -- in a really good way. Remixes done by Bottin, Chicken Lips, Kalabrese, and more.









Rusko
OMG
Mad Decent

Dubstep's larger-than-life character hits the next level of his stratospheric rise to intergalactic domination. Whether its true or not that Rusko is producing the next Britney Spears album, we can revel in the ludicrous development of pop music's current championship of the new dance-rock rave-craze and jungle rinse-outs that has us all jacking dirty on the dance floors.










Dimitri From Paris
Get Down With the Philly Sound
BBE

This compilation is the first ever to document the birth of disco in Philadelphia and the work of the unsung musicians who played on the numerous hits that came out of the Philly scene. Featuring Melvin & the Bluenotes, Teddy Pendergrass, The Trammps, and Jackson 5. Curated by Dimitri From Paris.










Rene Hell
Porcelain Opera
Type

Alter dimensional synth trips referencing classic kosmiche drenched in the lustre of nostalgia is the modus operandi of cult noisenik Jeff Witscher. As Rene Hell he reveals a decidedly modern grasp of electronic psychedelia. In breaking down elements of Cluster and Basic Channel and mixing in his own special enzymes he forms an alchemical concoction of tape-chewed cacophony to disconnect, then realign your cerebral hemispheres.









Mathew Jonson
Agents of Time
Wagon Repair

Very first solo album by Canada's finest melodic techno producer and longtime Cobblestone Jazz stalwart, Mathew Jonson. The pace of the album is largely sedate and infused with a late 90s electronica aspect, romantic IDM atmospheres, and Vangelis-like synth washes.








LCD Soundsystem
This is Happening
DFA

Perhaps, arguably, in my humble opinion, the best LCD album to date. A perfect vintage-sounding blast of new wave disco punk a la Talking Heads or A Certain Ratio, with dense percussion, no-wavey chants, sparkling guitar chank and pulsing space bass. James Murphy is the authentic disco-punk dancefloor pop messenger, with his uniquely self-aware post modern scrutinizations of modern hipster culture, and an apparent compulsion to second guess his listeners and outsmart the critics.








Crystal Castles
S/T
Last Gang

The latest greatest from Toronto based electro duo Crystal Castles is reminiscent of the jump from debut albums taken by Deerhunter and Fuck Buttons. Maybe this release will close the door on the blog-house/nu-wave/french-rave-craze with their wayward self-touted "artistic" approach on electro-rock. Check it!












Duke Dumont
Fabric 51
Fabric

Dumont proves himself to be quite the nimble selector, pulling together disparate tracks by Bodycode, Scuba, Green Velvet and Late of the Pier. As he explains: "I'm not trying to promote a genre with this mix; the ethos is simply to make something that I'll still really love in a few years' time... It represents what I play: groove-based, bordering on the techy side and all with a sense of emotion."











James Holden
DJ Kicks
K7

For his DJ KICKS mix, James Holden picks from outsider club music for a set that draws heavily on experimental techno, kraut-rock, ambient and indie sound. Quite good, obscure picks that represent an interesting slice of leftfield dance and indie-pop.












Roska
S/T
Rinse FM

Rinse FM presents this anticipated debut by ROSKA! Not to be confused with Rusko. UK-funky has made some headlines as of late: pair this with that Geeneus long player, King Midas Sound and Marcus Nasty mix, and you're fully schooled. This contains a blend of modern tribal house and garage indebted rudeness, crispy fresh like a new pair of trainers steeped deep into d-step whut whut house muzak n slow burnt grooves.







Manual

Drowned In Light
Darla

Drum machine loops and shimmering guitars (electric, acoustic, 12-string and flamenco) are bathed in analogue synth and modular effects, creating a lush, intoxicating sound that looks back to the 1970s and 1980s without a hint of the usual sleek irony or hip retro-revivalism, whilst simultaneously looking forward to a time when boundaries between programmed and played, and synthetic and organic, have become obsolete. Recommended: Lisa Papineau Solo album by Air and M83 guest vocalist... pretty and lush solo effort in the likes of Mia Doi Todd.








Jamie Lidell
Compass
Warp

Follow the bread crumbs and be prepared for almost anything, especially a more progressive strand of electro-psychedelic soul by everyone's long favorite & Prince-meets-Roy-Orbison; wunder kind Jamie Lidell. Pure molasses. Featuring Feist, Nikka Costa, Beck, and Gonzales.











Future Sound Of London
Environments 3
FSOL

The third in FSOL's ongoing series investigates further planes of abstract, synthesized spaces and places. Contemporary FSOL territory with ruffled digital-concrete textures entwined with plaintive piano, calling at orchestral symphonics, hyperharp scenery, abstracted electronic jazz and resplendant Roedelius-style solo piano and synthscapes.