Essential Records: The Mars Volta's 'De-Loused In The Comatorium'

Posted by Amoebite, October 8, 2014 05:32pm | Post a Comment

Essential Records De-Loused in the Comatorium

The year was 2003. I was a 22-year old musician living in Silverlake, playing in a band and chasing the dream. I was taking in heavy doses of Stevie Wonder and anything I could find from Salsa greats Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe. At that time, my whole musical world was Soul, Salsa and Hip Hop. The Roots' Things Fall Apart and Mos Def's Black on Both Sides were still in heavy rotation from my college Freshman days of 1999. 

I vividly remember my friend Jesus Beas telling me about this new band I should check out. He said they were called The Mars Volta and some of the guys were in a band called At The Drive-In. I had never heard of either band, but I knew it was worth my time to take a listen. Jesus and I had been friends since 9th grade and he had always turned me on to bands I ended up loving (mostly underground politically charged rock groups like Aztlan Underground and Downset).  

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Smashing Pumpkins Release Rick Rubin-Produced 'Let Me Give the World to You' From 'Adore' Reissue

Posted by Billy Gil, August 11, 2014 01:33pm | Post a Comment

smashing pumpkinsWhen Smashing Pumpkins released their beloved-in-retrospect fourth album, Adore, back in 1998, frontman Billy Corgan couldn’t resist talking a lot about a great song he left off the album called “Let Me Give the World to You.” Perhaps to preserve the nocturnal feel of the classic 4AD indebted Adore, the song wasn’t included on the album—the title alone promised a bombastic rock single in the vein of songs like “Tonight, Tonight.” But we got another version of the song later, on the digital-only Machina II, albeit in a different version that sounded quickly recorded in the best way, with gauzy, Cocteau Twins-inspired guitars and jangly pop feel.

Now Corgan has released the original recording, produced by none other than hip-hop producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin. So it’s that over-the-top “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” thing, right? The song is closer in feel to “1979,” with muted new-wave guitars and a level of restraint not typically seen with this band, yet its Beatles-inspired arrangement is, of course, heartfelt and grabbing. Though Adore is lovably imperfect as is, I can’t help but feel this recording would’ve slotted in nicely near the end of the album and perhaps provided a crucial breakthrough third single that could’ve changed the troubled history of the band for the better. Sigh.

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18 Year Anniversary of the Death of Def

Posted by Billyjam, August 27, 2011 01:15pm | Post a Comment

Exactly eighteen years ago on this date, the word DEF was officially laid to rest. It was that day when Rick Rubin - who initially was a part of Def Jam but later broke away and set up his own Def American Records label, which in turn morphed into American Records -- supposedly officially layed the dated hip-hop slang word to rest. This he did via an extravagant funeral service and even went so far as to get a legal death certificate, buy a real life size casket, secure a plot at the Hollywood Cemetery (which is still there to this day), and hold a faux solemn, funeral ceremony with Rev Al Sharpton acting as officiator.

Rap music industry vet and author Dan Charnas worked for Rick Rubin at Def American's headquarters in LA at the time and in his recently published book, The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, he dedicates some space to the topic of the death of "def." This week I caught up with Charnas via phone from his New York home office to ask him about this date back in 1993 when the word "def" was laid to rest.  Charnas, who had already been working a couple of years for the brilliant (but oft quirky) Rubin, recalled how, back as early as 1991, his boss had told him, "Eventually I am going to change the name of Def American to just American. And eventually I am going to bury it. I am going to have a funeral." Charnas said that then Rubin asked with a laugh, "And then what's Russell gonna do?"  Charnas recalled of Rubin, "It struck his Bud Abbott-esque need to prank Russell [Simmons of Def Jam]," and that the death of def was combined with other factors. "It was the fact that he wanted a divorce from his past. The fact that there was some consumer confusion. The fact that he could prank Russell a little. The fact that the word was very much out of style," said Charnas. "So he wanted to do a grand piece of performance art."

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Ethan Miller of Comets on Fire and Howlin' Rain Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, August 1, 2008 02:19pm | Post a Comment
ethan miller, comets on fire, howlin rain

Ethan Miller
is one of the Bay Area's best musicians. He formed the psychedelic/noise, super intense comets on fire, ethan miller, utrillo kushner, ben chasney, ben flashman, noel von harmonsonband Comets on Fire in Santa Cruz in 1999. The group has met with much success-- Comets was signed to Sub Pop, has toured all over the world and released four great albums. After relocating to Oakland, around 2004 Ethan brought together another outlet for his creativity, the riff-heavy Howlin' Rain. Howlin' Rain has released two exceptional records and was recently signed to musical luminary Rick Rubin's label American Recordings, which should bring the group's heavy rockin' sound to even higher highs. Check out Howlin' Rain's performance at Amoeba back in March here.

What follows is my recent chat with Ethan about songs that make him cry, his old piano teacher, and why the studio is what really windshowlin rain ethan miller his clock.

Miss Ess: Is there someone in particular who recognized and nurtured your musical interest/talent when you were young?

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