50 Essential Albums Released in 2012

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 5, 2012 11:00am | Post a Comment

Aaron Detroit, Buyer at Amoeba Hollywood. I've worked in Hollywood for eight years, but started my time with Amoeba - way back in 1998 -  at the San Francisco store. This is my extensive list of 2012 releases that I fell in love with or had serious affairs over the past 365 days. 2012, for me, was a surprising and amazing year in music. Nearly all 50 releases here could have been a Top-Ten contender almost any other year, and the Top Ten is full of records that could easily have been #1.

50 Essential Albums of 2012

1.  SCOTT WALKER Bish Bosch (4AD) 

The 6-year-long wait was well worth it, as is usually the case with Walker. This isn't the latest indie background music du jour - It's an Absurdist's symphony. Melody is eschewed for repetition, but you still walk away with the damned thing in your head. E-bows, machetes as percussion and disturbing (as well as amusing) scatological metaphors are some of the unlikely ingredients that make up this terrifying (and weirdly infectious) beauty. There's really nothing else like it, so enjoy figuring it out for the rest of your life.  

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50 Favorite Albums of 2011

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 18, 2011 12:00am | Post a Comment

Aaron Detroit, Buyer at Amoeba Hollywood. As you may know, I've worked in Hollywood for 8 years, but started my time with Amoeba - way back in 1998 -  at the San Francisco store. This is my extensive list of 2011 releases that I fell in love with or had hot and heavy affairs with this year.

50 Favorite Albums of 2011

  1. Wild Beasts Smother

In 2008, Brit quartet Wild Beasts released their shaky-legged -but- stunning debut, Limbo Panto. In the four years since, the band has released two thoroughly dazzling masterpiece full-lengths of deceptively delicate indie rock, lyrically bent towards looking in the dark recesses of the heart and libido, largely sung by co-vocalist Hayden Thorpe in his trademark falsetto. Smother finds the band adding a new restraint to their arrangements that allows the tension in the lyrics to hit with hair-on-end chills. It is a singular LP by a singular band that I expect will eventually reach a Radiohead-level stratosphere. 

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out this week 7/28 & 8/4 & 8/11...pictureplane...blur...modest mouse...patrick wolf...

Posted by Brad Schelden, August 27, 2009 12:20pm | Post a Comment

I spend most of my weeks looking for new albums to fall in love with. I try to listen to most albums at least once. This is a big quest since there are still a ton of albums out every week. I just wait and hope for those special little albums that get me excited and keep me looking for my new favorite. It keeps me going knowing that there are new fantastic albums out every month just waiting to be discovered. There are the obvious albums to get excited about. In a couple of weeks the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack comes out. The movie looks amazingly fantastic. The trailer for the movie already made me cry. Spike Jonze is the perfect director to create a live action film out of this great children's book. And just when I didn't think it could get any better, I find out that Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs did the soundtrack. I mean, really! How could it possibly get any better? I am dying of anticipation to see the movie and hear the soundtrack! I have not even tried to listen to any tracks online. I just want to wait and hear the whole thing when it comes out. But I honestly think that I might just have to wait and experience the soundtrack for the first time while watching the movie. That is always the problem with getting a soundtrack before you see the movie. I think it is best to experience it in the theater for the first time. Then you can go back and relive it and listen to the soundtrack. I seriously can't wait!

I am also very excited about the new Place to Bury Strangers. The new album called Exploding Head is not out for a couple of months. I know it will be one of my favorites. And it really is hard to compete with their excellent, amazing debut a couple of years ago. It was my favorite of the year back in 2007. This new album will easily be in competition for the number one spot this year. It is easy to get excited about the new albums from your favorite bands. But even more exciting is the new bands that seem to come from nowhere to deilver you their fantastic debut albums. Or the bands and artists that have been working for years that finally make it into your life box dreamland

I didn't really have any expectations when I listenened to the new album by Pictureplane. I was somewhat intrigued by the name and the artwork, but figured I would quickly move on after the first listen. But I was wrong. It quickly became one of my favorite albums of the month. I just can't put it down. It is one of those albums you will either love or hate, like Patrick Wolf or The Teenagers, Crystal Castles, Blank Dogs or Health, or even No Bra or Lo-Fi-Fnk. These bands are easy to hate, but also so easy to fall in love least for me. They combine the fun of 90's dance music with more modern indie pop music and make some fantastic albums. Pictureplane is Travis Egedy. His music is often described as trance meets dark wave meets 90s r&b and dance. He combines them all together to somehow make sense. Most people would run away from something that was a mix of Taylor Dayne, Deee-Lite, Soul II Soul, Terence Trent D'arby, Stereo MC's, C & C Music Factory, La Bouche, Snap!, and Black Box. But he makes it work! Just try to imagine every 90's dance track all mixed up together and filtered through the mind of a kid from Arizona who was only 5 years old in 1990. He lived through the 90's like I lived through the 80's. I was too young in the 80's to go to dance clubs and shows but I still managed to become obsessed with the music of the 80's through school dances and MTV. I was just old enough to get it and the perfect age for it to have a lasting impression. We take most of the music of the 90's for granted and most of us want to forget it and move on, but there were some really great dance tracks that came out of the 90's. They are songs that will stay with us forever. I hated a lot of them at the time. Most of them were overplayed on the radio, in clubs, at bars, and on MTV but they still have a special place in my heart. I still get excited every time I hear them on the radio or see a late night informercial advertising the latest 90's dance compilation. I have heard most of these songs performed at drag shows as well. I guess that is why they have a special place in my heart. I also heard them all over and over again when I first started going to gay bars and clubs in the 90s. I think I hated them at the time but now they have become nostalgic and make me happy remembering the good times.
pictureplane dark rift
I could not have really imagined this album by Pictureplane before I actually heard it. A 25 year old dude singing songs in the style of Ce Ce Peniston and Crystal Waters doesn't really get me excited. Well, actually I guess it kind of does. But I still didn't really know what to expect until I actually heard it. But the album is not satire. It is not making fun of a genre. He recreates and reinterprets the dance music of the 90's and creates something refreshing and completely different sounding. I did fall in love with the record. It grows on you. The album is called Dark Rift. It is actually his second album, but his first to be released on CD.

One of my favorite tracks is "Goth Star." The name alone is perfect. But "Trance Doll" is probably my favorite -- also a perfectly named song. The song doesn't really make much sense and seems all mixed up and thrown together, but at the same time it is also this perfect little pop song with a great chorus mixed underneath the mess. "Gang Signs" and "New Mind" are also fantastic songs on the album. It would be a fun game to try to match each song on the album to a dance track from the 90's. But each song would have more than one corresponding song. For instance, "New Mind" seems to be a mix of "Vogue" by Madonna, "Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark, and "Rhythm is a Dancer" by Snap! But the next time I listen to the song I will have a diffrent idea of what it sounds like. The album seems to change each time I listen to it. Maybe he is so brilliant that he is able to mix about 20 or so songs into each song so you can never really figure out where the exact influence each song came from. I imagine he just has all these songs mixed up in his memory and somehow managed to filter them into his own new songs. The album is great fun and I recommend you try it out! However, if you were frightened or offended by dance music in the 90's, you might want to stay far away from this album. There is a chance that you might even be able to enjoy the whole album without thinking of the 90s once. But I doubt it. I love it. And I thank Mr. Pictureplane for giving me this album. It is just what I needed! I am off to go relive the 90's and watch videos of "Finally," "Rhythm is a Dancer," and "Strike It Up." I am just not sure that I can stop there. I might be trapped in the 90's all day long!

Here is the video for "Trance Doll" by Pictureplane...

And here are some 90's dance videos to help you remember the 90's just in case you forgot...

"Rhythm is a Dancer" by Snap!...

"Be My Lover" by La Bouche...

"3 AM Eternal" by The KLF...

"Show Me Love" by Robin S...

"Strike It Up" by Black Box...

also out 7/28...

Midlife: Beginner's Guide by Blur

Love Comes Close by Cold Cave

Golden Beds EP by Octopus Project

David by Radio Dept.

also out 8/4...

True Romance by Golden Silvers

Tribute to George Harrison by Yim Yames

No One's First, and You're Next by Modest Mouse

Julian Plenti by Julian Plenti

also out 8/11...

Bachelor by Patrick Wolf

out this week...6/2 & 6/9...sonic youth...deastro...placebo...patrick wolf...

Posted by Brad Schelden, June 11, 2009 11:58am | Post a Comment

I always get excited whenever there is a new Placebo album. They never let me down. I was bit by the Placebo bug many years ago, back when they just had a small little self titled album in 1996. I think I probably saw them on the cover of a magazine before I actually ever heard the album, but I quickly became a big fan. I loved anything British at the time, and especially anything that was a little bit dark and weird. Brian Moloko was an intriguing man. I have seen him live many, many times and read tons of interviews but still don't really have him completely figured out. But that just makes him all the more interesting. Like many of the other bands that I have stuck with over the years, I associate each of their albums with a time in my life. The albums sort of organize my life for me into more organized sections than I could create myself. The first self titled album came out before I had moved to San Francisco. It actually came out in July, which was the month before I moved to San Francisco from Santa Barbara -- so my new life actually did start with the very first Placebo album, but I didn't really get into it until after I had moved. I listened to it a lot over the years. Often I would listen to it between albums. It helped fill the void when there wasn't a new album by them. Highlights of the album would be "Bruise Pristine," "Lady of the Flowers" and "36 Degrees." But "I Know" is the song that gets me every time I listen to this album. It breaks my heart a little bit, but in a good way. This whole album can really do no wrong for me. The second album, Without You I'm Nothing, came out in 1998 after I had been in San Francisco for a couple of years. This was probably the height of my Placebo obsession, although it honestly has never ever gone away. This was the first tour I saw with them and I was hooked for life after this. I really couldn't get enough of this album. It was a dark and depressing one, but I can't tell you how many times I listened to the song "Without You placebo without you i'm nothingI'm Nothing." It pretty much became the song I would always listen to after the end of any relationship. It always seems like a long song so you can go through a rollercoaster of emotions in just that one song. My other favorites on the album are "My Sweet Prince" and "Every Me Every You." I forever associate this album with my early years in San Francisco. I grew up a lot in these years but also experienced some heartache.

Black Market Music came out in 2000. While I did like this album when it came out, it remains my least favorite of their albums. I don't really ever find myself going back to it. This is the tour where I met them backstage, so I do have fond memories of the tour but the album just didn't stick with me. I moved to Los Angeles for the first time (not the last!) soon after this album came out. No new Placebo album came out in my first year in Los Angeles but Sleeping With Ghosts came out soon after I moved back to San Francisco once again. The album came out in 2003. I seemed to spend a lot of time by myself this first year back, and I spent many, many hours with this album. I listened to it on my walkman on my walks through the city and also spent a lot of time listening to it at home. This was another album that was great from the beginning to the end. "The Bitter End" is without a doubt my favorite on the album. It is just what a Placebo song should be. I also love "Special Needs" and "Second Sight." Placebo always manage to write a song that breaks my heart on every album. The title track "Sleeping with Ghosts" is the song that does it for me on this album. It actually physically hurts me to listen to this song. But I always go back placebo sleeping with ghoststo it. I can't stop listening to it. I will forever associate this album with my apartment in the Mission. The next album came out before I moved back to Los Angeles for the second time but I had already moved to the Polk Street house. I associate Sleeping With Ghosts with my walks from Haight St. to the Mission. The next album would be associated with my walks from Haight St. to Polk St. Meds came out in March of 2006. I was really obsessed with long walks at this point in my life and loved walking home from work. My walk through the Castro and Noe Valley led me back to the Mission from Haight St. It took about an hour. It was a bit hilly but had awesome views. I was worried I would not be able to do the same walk once I moved to Polk St. but it was just a different walk and still took about an hour. I would basically walk down Stanyan to Geary and Geary to Polk St. I made a couple variations to keep it interesting. When I think about San Francisco I think about these walks. They were really theraputic for me and just awesome. I seriously looked forward to them every day. So many albums were the soundtracks to these walks, but Meds was played quite often on my walk to Polk St. from Haight St. I wouild walk through the Richmond, Pacific Heights, Japan Town, and Nob Hill to get there. The self titled song on this album is one of the best. "Song to Say Goodbye," "Infra-Red" and "One of A Kind" are also fantastic. "Blind" is placebo battle for the sun the song that breaks my heart on this album.

So I am now back in Los Angeles and have been ready for a new Placebo album. Ready for a new chapter in my life. This has for sure been a crazy couple of weeks and I have been trying to be careful what I listen to in these weeks. I can already look ahead and know that I will forever associate the albums that I have been obsessed with lately with the strange new transitional period in my life. The new Placebo album is the perfect album for this period. They are always good for breakups. Battle For the Sun just came out this week. Sometimes it takes me a couple of weeks to really get into a Placebo album. I know that some of the songs will continue to grow on me and I already am in love with a couple. The album gets really good by track 3. The title track, "For What It's Worth" and "Devil in the Details" are all really good tracks. "The Never Ending Why" is probably my favorite on the album. I do have to admit that I have not found that heartbreaking song on the album yet and I don't really think it is there. Maybe that is a good thing though-- I don't really need that right now. But Placebo have not let me down with this album. I love it already and glad that it arrived in my life this week. Can't wait to hear it live.

One of my favorites from last week is the debut album from Deastro. I highly recommend it. It is called Moondagger and has been released by Ghostly International. I have been waiting for this album all year. Every year there are a couple of albums that come out that I feel like are made especially for me. I can't even really explain what I would want them to sound like before they come out but I know they will find their way to me every year. This is one of those albums. The album is full of keyboards, as you might imagine, since keys are a constant favorite of mine. The album is one of those records that takes you away to a magical land. Hard to really explain until you listen to the album, and I know it will not make everyone feel that way, but it is just magical and fun. I know everyone is in love with Animal deastro moondaggerCollective and Grizzly Bear right now, but I would much rather listen to this Deastro album any day. The album is sort of hard to categorize. It for sure takes elements from most of my favorite genres of music. There is a new wave and shoegaze element, but it is also nothing like those genres. Just has some elements. "Greens Grays and Nordics" is maybe my favorite track on the album, but it changes every day. There is not really a bad song on here. Randolph Chabot is the man behind Deastro. I thank him for making this album. It just has a great energy to it. He is at times manic in his singing style, like he is in a race against time to get through the songs. So many of the songs seem to end soon after they have started. I do love it. You should love it to. A nice album for these gloomy days of June.

also out 6/2...

Grace Around the World by Jeff Buckley

Bachelor by Patrick Wolf

Crossing the Rubicon by The Sounds

Vol. 1 Archives by Neil Young

also out 6/9...

Black Meteoric Star by Black Meteoric Star

Man of Aran by British Sea Power

Cutting the Edge by Chicks on Speed

Rainwater Cassette Exchange by Deerhunter

Survival Strategy in a Modern World by Liechtenstein

Maladjusted Expanded by Morrissey

Half Control by Six Finger Satellite

Eternal by Sonic Youth

patrick wolf live at cafe du nord...

Posted by Brad Schelden, May 23, 2007 10:23am | Post a Comment
So last night we went down to the beautiful Cafe Du Nord to see the brilliant Patrick Wolf. Curt had never been there! So I was excited for him to see it. The bastard has only been to San Francisco once about five years ago. I missed that show and have been waiting ever since to see him live. I have loved all 3 of his albums and have been waiting patiently to hear how they sounded live. I was a little worried that he would disappoint.  It was hard to imagine him pulling off the brilliance of the albums in a live setting. But he literally blew me and everyone there away. I was expecting some over the top outfit and of course he met my expectations in this regard at least. I thought maybe some suspenders and a jaunty cap with a feather. He came out with a blue wig, shiny gold suspenders and little school boy shorts. He reminded me of a young Liza Minnelli mixed with McCauley Culkin's version of Michael Alig. Maybe with a little Marc Almond and high school musical thrown in there. He even made a costume change half way through the show. He was joined by three young men on stage. Stand up bass, drums, and of course electronics. His violin player had gone back to England because of the "weather." The songs sounded great live and he was quite the little show man. He interacted with the crowd and told some great little stories.
He played a lot of my favorites from the first two albums. The live version of "To the Lighthouse" brought some little tears to my eyes. The highlight of the night was right before he came on stage. Five bears walked right in front of us to find their spot for the show. While a couple of them were obviously dragged to the show. The fact that they were there made me happy. It was overall a very stylish indie crowd. But its nice to know he has crossed the boundaries into bear territory. And I swear I saw George Lucas and Catherine Zeta Jones in front of me as well. The best thing about the show was how positive he was. He could have easily been a little mopey depressed emo goth on stage complaining about how horrible and tragic his life was. But he instead remained positive and optimistic. He shared not only his music with the audience but also a little bit of love. I left the show with a big smile on my face.

A nice pleasant surprise was the opening band for Patrick. A perfect match and complete opposite at the same time. No Bra is really hard to explain unless you were there seeing it as it happened. No Bra is basically one very unique lady and some pre recorded synths and drum machines. She reminded me of really early synth bands like The Normal and Cabaret Voltaire. She really had the crowd wondering if they should think she was the worst thing ever or brilliant. I quickly decided I was going with brilliant. Her dead pan delivery mixed with the minimal electronics somehow worked. And of course, she was wearing no bra.  She was also wearing no shirt. The song "Munchausen" stole the show. It is basically just a conversation between two hipsters showing off who they know and what they know. It reminded me of the recent Saturday Night Live skit where the woman tries to out do everyone by claiming to have done something even better that what they have done. It just might turn out to be the most unlikely song of the year. At least for me.
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