Album Picks: Frank Ocean, Blanche Blanche Blanche, Jeff the Brotherhood, Plus Albums Out Today

Posted by Billy Gil, July 17, 2012 04:18pm | Post a Comment
Album Picks:

Frank Ocean Channel OrangeFrank Ocean’s music touches such a raw nerve because it’s the rare album that fully appeals on a here-and-now pop level while referencing classic pop — in this case, pop and soul maestros like Stevie Wonder and Elton John — and offering something else entirely. This something else is that human, overexposed, heart-and-mind-on-sleeve content that firmly roots Channel Orange in the social network era. I was late to the game; the first time I heard “Thinkin Bout You” was the day before Ocean very publicly came out of the closet. That happenstance was strange for me — the thing that first struck me about the song, aside from its obvious craft, the kind of instantly memorable hit that combines a suave, easy to follow melody and arrangement with dagger-in-the-heart lyrics, was an indescribable “third” quality beyond music and lyrics that I usually find with my favorite music, whether it’s The Smashing Pumpkins, The Beatles or, perhaps more relatedly, morose ’90s/'00s R&B hits like PM Dawn’s “Die Without You,” Fabolous & Tamia’s “So Into You,” Lauryn Hill’s “Ex Factor” and so on. It’s that sort of feeling that hits you immediately and reminds you of all the stupid unrequited crushes, moments of indirection, and fleeting feelings of serenity in youth. That Ocean possibly wrote the song about his own unrequited same-sex love made sense to me, since that’s pretty much what the song reminded me of. But beyond any personal affiliation with the song, the ability to communicate such universal but difficult to pin down feelings so instantly is quite rare, and so thus should be treasured in the way rave reviews have been pouring in for Channel Orange. Indeed, I think “Thinkin Bout You” is the best song anyone will release this year, and Channel Orange likely will be the album of the year. Beyond that opening instant classic, Channel Orange brims with power. Take the lush Marvin Gaye-meets-How to Dress Well-meets-Kanye West depiction of new parenthood in “Sierra Leone,” its lyrics offering a welcome balance of vagueness and detail devoid of judgment, communicating feelings of joy and trepidation. He celebrates and also exposes the lives of privileged black youth in a seemingly realistic way, beyond the bling-style fantasies of much of hip-hop, in songs like “Sweet Life” and the brilliant “Super Rich Kids,” which sounds like a hip-hop “Benny and the Jets” playing over an episode of the similarly revelatory reality show “Baldwin Hills.” He creates an sprawling, Kanye-style centerpiece with “Pyramids,” an epic track buoyed by raunchy synth riffs that turn glittering in the song’s sweetly disintegrating second half. And he continues to explore his evolving sexuality on a trio of closing ballads, in which he sounds as comfortable and natural singing about love between men, and between men and women. Though that doesn’t at all overshadow the rest of the album, which has more merits in spades to stand on its own, it can’t be ignored, either, as a huge moment for hip-hop — for all music — as a knocking down of barriers in music, sexuality and male image through some of the most dazzling, yet thoughtful pop music being made today.

OK, enough about how great Frank Ocean is. Here’s another artist who could probably actually use another person talking about them: Blanche Blanche Blanche, from Vermont’s Zach Phillips and Sarah Smith. Their Wink With Both Eyes has been out a little while, but Pitchfork’s recent review prompted me to check it out and boy, I’m smitten. Super lo-fi antics, similar in sound to an Ariel Pink but with the playfulness of a Unicorns and the cool girl vocals of a Broadcast. They remind me quite a bit, too, of The Fiery Furnaces at their best, especially when Phillips jumps in for some vocals alongside Smith, although it’s more in restless spirit than sound. Anyway, if you like any of the aforementioned, by hook or by crook, you have to get this album. I saw one copy on the floor at Amoeba Hollywood; not sure about the other two stores, but you can also order it from us here. Really just mind-bending, haunting stuff, probably will be one of my favorites of this year. Apparently Phillips has a bunch of other projects too, like Bruce Hart, Horse Boys, GDC and Jordan Piper Philips, which I’ll now have to check out after listening to this album constantly.

jeff the brotherhoodReleased today was Jeff the Brotherhood’s Hypnotic Nights. The band’s anthemic rock ‘n’ roll resonates so well because their synth-tinged, nerdy fuzz rock never really went out of style, it just sort of disappeared for a while, as Weezer aimed for Beverly Hills and bands like Grandaddy dropped off entirely. Thanks to bands like MGMT and Jeff the Brotherhood, fist-pumpers for the rest of us are alive and well, like Hypnotic Nights’ irrepressible “Sixpack,” whose lyrics “I wanna cool out/and get wasted” sound like nerds finally coming of age and buying booze for the first time while listening to too much Cars and Black Sabbath (is there such a thing?). With The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach producing, real-life brothers Jake and Jamin Orral are surprisingly adept at changing things up, too, like the classic lo-fi indie rock vibes of the awesomely titled “Mystic Portal II,” which starts out with a Guided By Voices/Built to Spill style entry before launching into a beautifully melodic power ballad that ends in guitar-sitar loveliness. And songs like “Staring at the Wall” call out their psychedelia roots with heavy flanged guitars. Sorry if you peaked in high school; the A/V club kids always end up having more fun down the line.


Also Out Today:

Animal KingdomAnimal KingdomThe Looking Away
Animal Kingdom produce some of the sweetest, sleekest Britpop you’ll hear on The Looking Away, balancing pop smarts and expert balladry in songs like “The Wave.” Fans of Coldplay, Of Monsters and Men, and Sigur Ros, take note.

Baroness Yellow and GreenBaroness
Yellow & Green
Though Yellow & Green is metal band Baroness’ most accessible release yet, they haven’t lost any of the drive that have made them a favorite of diehard metal fans and indie music fans alike. Yellow & Green is melodic enough to be on rock radio — just check out the wave-like melodies and guitarwork on “March to the Sea,” complete with country-esque riffery floating below the din. But it’s also plenty tough, as John Baizley’s vocals rarely leave the low jaw-singing range and guitars, while lovely when they relent, as on the driving hard rock of “Little Things,” they rarely do.

can unlimited editionCan
Unlimited Edition and Flow Motion
Reissues of Can albums — Unlimited Edition collected previously unreleased Can tracks, while Flow Motion is their eighth studio album, featuring the jam “I Want More.”

The Dark Knight RisesThe Dark Knight Rises Soundtrack
Music composed by Hans Zimmer.

Spark Seeker
Matisyahu’s Spark Seeker reintroduces the performer not as the Hasidic Jewish rap poster boy but as he should be heard — a pop artist who informs his music with elements of roots reggae, hip-hop and Judaism. Songs like “Sunshine” and “I Believe in Love” are positive to the core, espousing the importance of joy, love and spirituality over buoyant reggae backbeats that will land these songs everywhere from pop radio to religious retreats.

john mausJohn
MausA Collection Of Rarities & Previously Unreleased Material

It’s just as the title says, with 16 tracks composed by the cerebral yet goofy John Maus over the past decade or so. Key track “Bennington” boasts a raunchy synth groove and lyrics like “I miss those funky eyes.”


milo greeneMilo GreeneMilo Greene
Milo Greene is a set of beautifully crafted songs that make the most of the band’s five-person set-up, taking cues from the Fleet Foxes as each musician contributes to the band’s folky soundscapes and lush harmonies. Check out the band’s live streaming performance at Amoeba (and tonight at 7 p.m. and read my interview with them here.

nas life is goodNas
Life is Good
One of the greatest MCs of all time returns with his 10th studio album, with production by Salaam Remi and No I.D., and appearances by Rick Ross, Mary J. Blige and the late Amy Winehouse.


smashing pumpkins pisces iscariotSmashing PumpkinsPisces Iscariot (Reissue)
So excited about this one, maybe even more so than the recent Gish and Siamese Dream reissues. Fans have long known Pisces Iscariot, the Pumpkins’ 1994 B-sides album, to be as strong as anything in their catalog. So great to have it on vinyl, and in a deluxe edition with additional tracks such as their dynamite cover of Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ “Jackie Blue,” early new wave jam “My Dahlia” and an awesome live version of non-album psych-punk jam “Slunk.”

The Very BestThe Very BestMTMTMK
The second album from duo The Very Best is a genre-hopping world music mashup of ideas, incorporating afropop, reggae, hip-hop and house music.

Local Stuff: Chelsea Wolfe, John Maus, Everest, Ariel Pink

Posted by Billy Gil, June 22, 2012 01:07pm | Post a Comment

Chelsea Wolfe – "Flatlands
Chelsea Wolfe has a new, all-acoustic album due in October on Sargent House. Here’s the first track, a spare and haunting departure from the more densely layered, dark folk you’ll find on 2011’s Apocalypsis. The track features Andrea Calderón on violin, Ezra Buchla on viola and Ben Chisholm also on guitar.


John Maus – "Bennington"

John MausWe Must Become the Pitless Censors of Ourselves was a fun trip through the sort of cerebral art pop of Klaus Nomi or Kraftwerk but with goofy lyrics and sturdy hooks. “Bennington” is no different, boasting a raunchy synth groove and lyrics like “I miss those funky eyes.” A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material, collecting 16 tracks recorded over the past decade or so, is slated to come out July 17 on Ribbon Music. He’ll be at FYF Fest Sept. 1 (tickets go on sale at Amoeba today at 5!). I never realized what a babe John Maus is till today.


Everest – "Raking Me Over the Coals"

Sometimes you hear about an artist enough and finally decide to get off your ass and listen to them and discover, what do you know, they’re really good. Such is the case with me and Everest, whom I’ve heard about plenty but hadn’t bothered to listen to until “Raking Me Over the Coals,” a gorgeous alt-country-ish ditty whose breathy vocals and dusky production makes it the perfect aural approximation of a June gloom day. They’re at the Troubador July 24, and their new album, Ownerless, is due June 26.


Ariel Pink
Ariel Pink Announces Tracklist, Tour Dates

Two weeks ago Ariel Pink debuted the first song, a cover of Donnie and Joe Emerson’s “Baby,” from his upcoming album, Mature Themes. (Preorder the album at Amoeba here.) Now he’s unveiled the cover art, seen on the left, as well as the tracklist. “Baby” will be released as a one-sided limited edition 12”, while Mature Themes is due Aug. 21. Both will be released by 4AD. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti plays Bimbo’s 365 club in SF Oct. 1 and the Fonda in LA Oct. 5.

1. Kinski Assasin
2. Is This The Best Spot?
3. Mature Themes
4. Only In My Dreams
5. Driftwood
6. Early Birds of Babylon
7. Schnitzel Boogie
8. Symphony of the Nymph
9. Pink Slime
10. Farewell American Primitive
11. Live it Up
12. Nostradomus & Me
13. Baby
Shows this weekend:
Friday: Liars at the Henry Fonda Theatre ($20.50, 9 p.m.)
Saturday: Fun garage pop times at the Heroes + Heroines record release show at the Echo with Babies on Acid (members of Dios/Dios Malos), The Orwells, Thee Mary Wells (members formerly of Thee Makeout Party) (Free, 5 p.m.)
Sunday: Part Time Punks Shoegaze Festival! I can’t go to this and it makes me want to shoot myself in the leg. But you should go and then tell me it was awesome and that I suck for not going. Mark Gardener of fucking Ride will be there, performing Ride songs with Sky Parade. Also performing will be Weekend, Lorelei, Half String, Astrobite, The KVB, Tropic of Cancer, Whirr, Moonbeams, Tennis System and a DJ set from Brad Laner of Medicine. Brad Schelden’s and my hearts just skipped a few beats. It’s at the Echoplex, it starts at noon, it’s $18 advance, $22 at the doors, and it’s all-ages. Go at noon if you want to see Mark Gardener.

10 Record Store Day Picks

Posted by Billy Gil, April 19, 2012 06:55pm | Post a Comment
Record Store Day is great for any number of reasons — supporting record stores and the music community, hearing DJ sets from the likes of Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning. But in the end it’s all about the exclusive and new releases. Here are 10 picks from the many releases coming out April 21. (Read a more comprehensive list here, and download the full list here.)
animal collectiveAnimal Collective – Transverse Temporal Gyrus
Ripped from elsewhere on the Amoeblog: In March 2010, Animal Collective and visual artist Danny Perez put on an installation called "Transverse Temporal Gyrus" at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. For the audio, each member of the band made individual sounds and songs. Over the course of two 3-hour performances, the basic tracks were fed into a computer program that randomized the track order, and sometimes randomly combined stems from one track with stems from another. The program also panned the music in various directions around a 36 channel surround sound system that ran through 36 speakers set up from the top of the Guggenheim's ramp to the bottom. The music on this 12" is a collage made consisting of the original tracks, as well as live recordings made inside the Guggenheim before the doors were opened to the public. It will be the only physical format on which any of the music will be released.
Plus it’s new Animal Collective!
Arcade Fire – Sprawl II
Arcade Fire’s Blondie-ish “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” was undoubtedly the highlight of The Suburbs and showed the band still has some tricks up its sleeve. The Soulwax remix included here tastefully gives it the dancefloor feel it calls for without just throwing a house beat over the song and calling it a day.

Beach House – Lazuli
I wrote a really dumb review of this song before, but safe to say the new song from Beach House’s upcoming Bloom (preorder Bloom here) is every bit as amazing as fans would hope, given the upward trajectory of the band’s albums: their self-titled first release, Devotion and Teen Dream. It’s just so effortlessly lush and breathtaking. To quote “My So-Called Life,” “You’re so beautiful, it hurts to look at you.”

Dinosaur Jr. – Electronic Anthology Project
Built to Spill bassist Brett Nelson, who started Electronic Anthology Project to reimagine Built to Spill songs with new wave aesthetics, gives the same treatment to Dinosaur Jr. A curio, for sure, but a must-have for fans of the band. Digging the twinkly version of “Pond Song” and of course the New Order-ish take on “Feel the Pain.” Listen to “Tarpit” below.

Feist/Mastodon Feistodon
This is one of those things you wish would happen more often: Canadian indie-pop chanteuse Feist and hipster metal dudes Mastodon cover each other. I’m not sure what the songs will actually end up sounding like, but I love the idea and that they were all willing to take the chance and not take themselves so seriously.

flaming lips record store dayThe Flaming Lips – Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends
One listen to “Ashes in the Air,” a duet with Bon Iver — and the fact that Ke$ha will be on this, and that a few very limited copies of the release will include the band members’ and collaborators’ blood —  makes this release notable and notably strange, even by Flaming Lips’ high standards in both quality and weirdness. And speaking of Mastodon earlier, check out the Flaming Lips/Mastodon split as well, in which Mastodon covers Flaming Lips’ beautifully wimpy “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton.” LOL to everyone involved with all of this!

Sigur Rós – Hvarf/Heim
This vinyl version of an earlier release features a disc of studio versions of songs that were almost entirely previously unavailable, plus a disc of acoustic versions of Sigur Rós songs. This oughta whet fans’ appetites for the band’s upcoming new release, Valtari (preorder Valtari here), out May 29; I, for one, am pretty excited about the band once again, after hearing the gorgeous “Ekki Múkk,” which reminds me of my favorite Sigur Rós album, ( ).

sacred bonesVarious Artists – Sacred Bones Presents Vol. 2
The label behind Crystal Stilts, The Men and more present another awesome sampler. Just looking at the artists on it, this one’s a no-brainer.

Various Artists – Smuggler’s Way
This Ribbon Music/Domino comp. features a killer new John Maus song, “No Title (Molly),” plus songs from Real Estate, Cass McCombs and more.

xiu xiu dirty beachesXiu Xiu/Dirty Beaches split
An unholiest of pairings, and two of my personal favorites — the frighteningly personal post-punk of Xiu Xiu and haunting lo-fi rockabilly of Dirty Beaches — on one disc. Xiu Xiu covers the almost painfully bright synth pop jam “Always” by Erasure, one of the weirdest tracks to dominate pop radio in the guitar-heavy ’90s, and Dirty Beaches lend their din to ubercool, iconic French singer Françoise Hardy’s “Tu Ne Dis Rien.”  David Lynch is smiling.

Speaking of whom, David Lynch Foundation and Amoeba Hollywood are throwing a Record Store Day party across the street at Space15Twenty (1520 North Cahuenga Blvd.) from 6 to 8 p.m. (show up there at 5 to get your wristband). The party features live performances from Ben Lee, Geeta Novotny and Phil Soussan, plus DJs Gary Calamar (89.9 KCRW) and Mimi Chen (100.3 The Sound).


Amoeba's Youtube Playlist of the Best Music of 2011

Posted by Amoebite, December 26, 2011 06:41pm | Post a Comment
Youtube asked us to create a playlist of our favorite music of 2011. That's a pretty big task given how much music we all loved this year. We tried to keep it as close to 20 videos as we could (but we ended up with the random number of 22 faves). Check out our little intro video and then dive into our playlist...

Zola Jesus
Zola Jesus
Sacred Bones

 continued Zola Jesus' evolution to full-fledged goth pop star, with dance beats and hooks underpinning her freaky awesome voice.

Anti- / Epitaph

Malian Touareg band Tinariwen are joined by Kyp and Tunde from TV on the Radio on this beautiful single.

Girls Father Son Holy Ghost

Father Son Holy Ghost
True Panther Sounds

Continue reading...

out this week 6/14 & 6/21 & 6/28...bon iver...john maus...

Posted by Brad Schelden, June 30, 2011 11:46am | Post a Comment
It is hard to believe that it has been over three years since the first Bon Iver album came out. For Emma, Forever Ago was released by Jagjaguwar in February of 2008. This was just a month after I moved to Los Angeles. I will be the first to admit that I did not immediately fall in love with this album. It took a while. It just didn't hit me over the head and make me fall in love with it. I l know it had this effect on many of my friends. Maybe I just wasn't ready for it. Or I was trying to resist the cult of Bon Iver for some reason. But it slowly made its way into my heart. I never didn't like it. I just didn't love it. But it did grow on me over the year and the year following. I would find myself going back to it every once in a while. And I was strangely excited for the release of his new new album. It had been a while and I was ready for more Bon Iver. I also love that everybody has a different way that they say Bon Iver. Some people say boniver like it is one word. Others say Bon Iver like Bon Jovi. It is a bit confusing. It is based on the french phrase "Bon Hiver" which means "good winter." But I guess he didn't like the H and didn't want people to mispronounce it. But he should have spelled it "Bone E Ver" since that is really how it is pronounced. I instantly fell in love with the Bon Iver cover of "I Can't Make You Love Me/Nick of Time by Bonnie Raitt. You can find this track on the new 12" for the single Calgary. It was also on an EP that wasbon iver calgary given away with the album on release date. I never thought that Bonnie Raitt would make me fall in love with Bon Iver. But I think this is what really did it. You might first think that a Bon Iver cover of Bonnie Raitt would be amazing. But it is. I am hoping that Bonnie Raitt, who seems to be in some sort of semi retirement, also loves the cover. How can she not. Maybe this will pull her out of retirement. Maybe she will cover a Bon Iver song! Maybe she will appear with Bon Iver on SNL!

The new Bon Iver album is simply titled Bon Iver. And while I am a huge fan of the artwork on the LP and CD. I am not a fan of the album title. I just can't really get behind a self titled album. Unless it is your first. If you are that lazy then at least just name the album after one of the album tracks. I think that Holocene or Michicant would have been great titles for the album. But this doesn't make me love the album any less. I actually like it better than the first. But like the first album. You may not fall in love with this album immediately. It is a relatively short album and it is pretty quiet. I recommend listening to it very loudly. Justin Vernon has an amazing voice. But I feel like it is best heard loud. He sort of sounds like some old folky singer from a different time. At times he can sound like Christopher Cross or the singer from Bread. But it works for him. The album is magical.

Watch Justin Vernor (Bon Iver) performing I Can't Make You Love Me/Nick of Time...

the new album Bon Iver by Bon Iver. Out now on Jagjaguwar.

Another one of my favorites from the last couple of weeks is the new John Maus. I am a new convert to the genius of John Maus. His new album is called We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. This is his third official album. His first two albums were put out by Upset the Rhythm. Songs and Love Is Real came out in 2006 and 2007. But he has been around since the early 90s releasing all sorts of things over the years. But John Maus has finally made his way into my life. And hopefully into yours. This is the kind of album that I couldn't do anything but love. I fell in love with it during the first song. I knew right then that I would be listening to this album a lot this year. He is a bit spooky and gothy. Just the way I like my music. The music is synthy and has a sort dark circus sort of feel to it. His vocal style is not too different from Peter Murphy or Andrew Eldritch from The Sisters of Mercy. Imagine Peter Murphy or Brendan Perry signing on an album produced by John Carpenter or Klaus Schulze. It has that German 70s synth feeling to it. All of the things that I love. The songs on this album are not too far off from the best songs by New Order of Ultravox. Although the album is dark and spooky. It also has a sort of fun feel to it. Like the best goth and dark wave songs, it makes you want to dance around your house while listening to it. I am not sure why it took me so long to find John Maus. But this is a great album to introduce me to him. It also does not hurt that the cover art features a lighthouse. I have always been obsessed with lighthouses for some reason. Especially after my recent trip to New England. If you have not already entered the world of John Maus. Please do it now. You will not be disappointed.

Check out the video for "Believer" from We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves By John Maus...

I love absolutely every song on this new album but here is another one of my favorites...
"Head For the Country" by John Maus...

the new album We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves by John Maus

also out 6/14...

It's All True
by The Junior Boys

Bakesale: Deluxe Edition
by Sebadoh

Dog Man Star: Deluxe Edition
by Suede

Errant Charm
by Vetiver

also out 6/21...

by Bobby

Twist Again
by Bodies of Water

New Brigade
by Iceage

Seeing is Believing
by Nico Muhly

Goodbye Bread
by Ty Segall

Coming Up: Deluxe Edition
by Suede

by Weird Al Yankovic

also out 6/28...

Galactic Melt
by Com Truise

Horses & High Heels
by Marianne Faithfull

Game of Thrones

Sound Kapital
by Handsome Furs

Better Day
by Dolly Parton

Rave on Buddy Holly
by Various Artists


Harrow & the Harvest
by Gillian Welch