Amoeblog

Custom Record Store and Label Sleeves From Over The World

Posted by Rick Frystak, April 16, 2014 11:45am | Post a Comment

Promoting one's logo and style has always been a concern if not a priority of any creative business, especially the music business. To have your record store or record label's graphic sensibility out in the world is like a tag, a notice that, "we exist righteously", and "take a look at us, we are cool and you want to be part of this!". What better way to do this than to attach your graphics onto the outside of an LP's inner sleeve living in eternity with the record snugly inside. Or, to have the store's bag carried out onto the street by your loyal customers with your logo beaming out at the universe. Now that's promotion, or perhaps simply an affirmation of being in the moment.

Here is a 10-year collection of various record store and record label's logo and graphic style across the eras, mostly committed to an LP's inner sleeve, and some retail shopping bags inclusive, logos singing raucously or whispering of the quality within. With trends and budgets shifting moment to moment, this collection becomes a small guide to the attraction of it for everyman's taste. What do folks think will look good? How will they remember our business?  As I deal with old record collections and their ephemera daily, it's always a wonderful gift to have an exotic sleeve pop up from accross the country, or even the world. Records have always been a universally traded entertainment, and it's becoming more so by the month now. 

So, this Record Store Day, sit back and find your favorites within the trove of typographical time. Just browsing these photos fills me with hope.

Click on any image to start a slideshow.

Photographs of sleeves and bags by RICK FRYSTAK

At LAST: Kyle Field chats Little Wings' latest opus

Posted by Kells, April 7, 2013 03:20pm | Post a Comment

 
Photo by Adam Zeke             

Earlier this year worlds collided when Little Wings took the stage at Cafe du Nord, one of San Francisco's best preserved former mobster speak-easy joints that maintains decidedly authentic-feeling with shadowy vibes fully trimmed in dust-covered scarlet velvet. Looking like a costumed "tourist" complete with a plastic lei and something like a Greek fisherman's hat, Little Wings breezed through a delightfully unpredictable set of mostly new songs from his first ever double LP release, LAST, his borrowed backing band (The Range of Light Wilderness I believe, sharing the bill that evening) jamming over a few false starts before eventually leaning into the billowy groove of the nearly seven-minute "Neptune's Next" that opened the show. A hushed wave broke over the crowd, and it was then that I noticed, and I could be wrong, but  I think maybe I could see that Kyle's teeth were painted.

Accomplished visual artist, avid surfer, and "musician's musician" Kyle Field channels a great deal of his most personal energies and intuitive creative powers into recording and performing music as Little Wings, his ever-fluctuating entity that continues to inspire and challenge audience perceptions with multi-layered song cycles, subconscious-tapping lyrical head trips, and concurrent visual presentations that sometimes embrace an apparent love of adopting guises couched in a language of "the best costume for the day." Seemingly open to collaborations and improvisation, Field continues to garner praise from fans and contemporaries like Will Oldham a.k.a. Bonnie 'Prince Billy and Feist who not only named her 2010 documentary Look at What the Light Did Now after a Little Wings tune but also covered and performed it as a duet with Field as well. Though admirers may tend to paint him as something of a folk hero from time to time (this bromantic GQ piece on Kyle being a prime example), Field seems to play it close to the vest when it comes to his self-expression despite having publicly sharing so many personal pieces. I recently corresponded with him and learned a lot about the new album (2LP! out on Field's own Rad imprint via Marriage Records), what he's listening to lately, and "free friction" in surfing. Read on for the interview!


 This album seems to spring from a similar genesis as your previous album -- skulls, apples and a certain reflective darkness in tow. However, this record is by far your longest -- what happened? Is this record a lens cast upon a bigger picture? Was it your intention to release a double LP?
 

Continue reading...

These Streets of Hers: Jessica Pratt is All But Owning Her Home Turf

Posted by Kells, December 14, 2012 07:10pm | Post a Comment

San Francisco songstress Jessica Pratt is blowing up. She's on fire. She's on fire and blowing up. Since her debut album of lush, hand-picked folk melodies dropped a just few months ago demand for Jessica's debut, simply titled JP, has become as difficult to keep up with as the multitude of glowing reviews surfacing all over the interwebs lauding Ms. Pratt's ability to make everyone mistake her bewitching, home-brewed folkways for that of retro private press obscurities. If you think this isn't going to be yet another reverent review let me get right to the point: believe the hype.

Like so many jewels that cannot stay buried in the deep forever, Jessica Pratt has risen above the morass of the San Francisco music scene like a diamond atoll emerging from an ocean of acts drowning in their own in reverb, reciprocity, and relative "esoteric" influences. A momentous feat for any solo musician, let alone any woman, struggling just to tread water in the threadbare, barely-there music industry these days.

That Tim (White Fence) Presley launched his label Birth Records just to put Ms. Pratt's record out speaks to the immediacy of her music. It's a sound that cannot help but conjure familiar feelings upon first listen (for any vinyl junkie anyway), and the comparisons are flying. Presley himself has oft been quoted as saying she brings to mind  "Stevie Nicks singing over David Crosby demos" and others have pointed to the way in which her vocal stylings bait and switch Nicks, Joanna Newsom, and Karen Dalton among many others. While we're at it, I'd like suggest the inclusion of Dolly Parton to pinch hit in this approximation game as the fluttery trails Pratt punctuates her lyrical lines with in songs like "Hollywood" and "Half Twain the Jesse" resemble Dolly's vocal filigree.

I have to admit, however, I find all these comparisons tacky and terribly trapped-in-the-90's buzzbin in the sense that any woman that ever flaunted a decidedly "unique" voice back then was appraised by nineties alterna-trinity: Björk/Tori Amos/P.J. Harvey. For me, it's offensive to struggle to assay the impression of a fresh voice with those we already know and love because burdens the emerging artist with the luster, or shadow, of an others' work. While I cannot deny the correlation of Jessica Pratt's magic to that Newsom or any other would-be contemporary, it should be noted that as far as patently "unique" voices go s. Pratt's is just about as unequivocal as they come.

Then there are the songs themselves.

Culled from recordings made over the past five years (which, I hope, means the songs that comprise JP are likely only a small sample of Pratt's acoustic drifts) Ms. Pratt's songwriting is neither cryptic or contrived offering instead informal delivery of personal meanderings whether they seemingly sprung from wakefulness ("Midnight Wheels") or the reflecting upon the changes that come of a passage of time ("Bushel Hyde"). Plus, it's difficult to put into words the comfort that lives within the sound of a track opening up with the punch and click of analogue tape gently purring into "record" mode as can be heard on Side A's "Mountan'r Lower". Taken all together, this record is an intensely satisfying listen through and through (and over and over again - I haven't taken this off the turntable for more than a half-day since I copped my copy back in October) JP will no doubt continue to fly off the shelves here at Amoeba Music just as sure as the cult of Pratt enthusiasts continue to find themselves rapt, downing the kool-aid at first, and with each subsequent, listen.

As of this morning Birth Records announced the arrival of the second pressing and the impending fulfillment of back orders so if you've been waiting to get your paws on some tangible JP -- hang in there kittens! The LP comes packaged with a lovely insert featuring a collage made by Ms. Pratt herself  with a digital download of the full album included so you can roam these streets of hers with her, you know, if you're into that kind of thing.


Tim Cohen's Magic Trick album release party tonight!

Posted by Kells, August 24, 2011 02:00pm | Post a Comment
Tonight tonight tonight! (((folkYEAH!))) presents the latest aural conjurings from local pop-psych wizard (popsyzard?) and Fresh & Onlys brainchild/frontman Tim Cohen's sleight of band side-project Magic Trick in celebration of their latest release The Glad Birth of Love (out on Empty Cellar) -- a record consisting of only four songs clocking in at nearly forty-five minutes that finds Cohen coloring outside the lines, expanding upon his improvisational troubadour habit by exploring a limitlessness of epic, long-form composition most gallantly, with more than a few influential favors bestowed from Joanna Newsom tucked beneath his armor.

That Cohen continues to maintain an excitement about his rambles comes as no surprise as his previous works, given his Two Sides, Onlys, Black Fiction, Feller Quentin, Smif Carniverous et al, are as different as pineapples and peaches but remain each enjoyable to the last. And this newly-born Glad Birth of Love is no exception, for it is most definitely Cohen's most ambitious release to date and features several heavy-hitter guest appearances like John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees, Grace Cooper of The Sandwitches, Diego Gonzalez of The Dry Spells and Citay, plus many more. The limited-to-100-copies edition “comes in an elegant old-style tip-on jacket” with an 11″ x 22″ poster featuring what one dear friend of mine declared to be "some scary-ass artwork."

Interested in seeing the who, what, and how these yarns play live? Well then get off the couch and get on down to the where? The Rickshaw Stop at 8pm tonight! Magic Bullets (last show ever!), Preteens, and Tambo Rays kick off the jam, plus a DJ set by (((folkYeah)))'s own Britt Govea is sure to set the mood mystic.

Synthsual Seduction: Getting Intimate with Blonde Redhead's Penny Sparkle

Posted by Kells, September 14, 2010 11:00am | Post a Comment
A while ago, right here in this blogosphere, I shared a memorable, if somewhat goofy, moment I experienced in conversation with Blonde Redhead where it was determined that their signature sound is, seasonally speaking, " cold, like winter," punctuated by drummer Simone Pace's joking that they've been trying to score a "summer hit" all these years. True, there's nothing very ruddy or relaxing about the raw, malodorous roots they laid down in their hard-rocking early days, prompting fans to coin the multilingual heart-breakers as "art rock" darlings while some persnickety critics underrated them as Sonic Youth wannabes. Alas, that "certain damaged" sound that Guy Picciotto (of Fugazi and Rites of Spring fame) coaxed into the production Blonde Redhead's middle children albums (In An Expression of the Inexpressible, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons and Misery is a Butterfly) is as gone as the no wave, DNA inspired D.I.Y. joie de vivre captured on the band's Steve Shelly (of, duh, Sonic Youth fame) produced self-titled debut as well as that of their self-produced, non-slump of a sophomore effort La Mia Vita Violenta and it's bewitching follow-up Fake Can Be Just As Good (sigh). However, I believe congratulations are in order as it seems that Blonde Redhead have, with Penny Sparkle --- their eighth full-length album in fifteen years, their third record for the 4AD label --- created the most lusciously polished, goth jewel of a make-out record since the Cure's Disintegration dropped in 1989.

Sonically, Penny Sparkle seems pick up where the last Blonde Redhead album, 23, left off excepting for the storm cloud of synths that drape the landscape of the record like a down comforter blanketing a snow bank, melting even those once raucous guitars into a symphony of layered, atmospheric electro-confessionals (in terms of 23, think "The Dress" and "Publisher" plus that creepy eight-minute 23 outtake "(We Are A real Team) Harry and I"). I'm guessing this shift in the band's sound morphology has something to do with producers Alan Moulder (whose finger prints linger on 23 not to mention his famed "shoegaze" connections and work with artists like Depeche Mode, My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain --- make-out jams indeed) and Van Rivers & The Subliminal Kid (Fever Ray) who worked with the band in Stockholm thus accounting for the slight dregs Swedish pop influence that lend extra shine to Penny Sparkle's glittery glow. Though none of the ten songs that comprise the record really stand out on their own all of them resonate in comparable, if not reciprocal, aural ensembles that flaunt the usual melange of minor chords and shadowy progressive elements that have endeared Blonde Redhead to their expanding fan base. But, goll-ly day is it synthy!

Overall, I 'm going to continue to push this record as a the make-out record for 2010. Who knows if Blonde Redhead will ever catch up to said "summer hit" that seems somehow out of their reach (I suppose a meeting with Cee-lo wouldn't hurt). At least they've proven they can make a classy "synth" record that not only doesn't sound like it was sugar-coated for mainstream consumption or polished for awards ceremonies, but also seems to, along with current artists like Zola Jesus, herald the return of goth as a sexy trend to be indulged passionately, in darkened dens, with the cutter you love. If that doesn't sound appealing to you just give it a good seasonally synced listen, after all, you can't get more goth than that time of year when autumn meets winter, and winter is their season.

Blonde Redhead performing the single "Here Sometimes" from Penny Sparkle (4AD Session):