Celebrate Amoeba's 20th Anniversary! Part 4 - Some of Our Most Memorable Instores

Posted by Amoebite, November 12, 2010 01:06pm | Post a Comment

This month we are celebrating 20 years of Amoeba! It's our anniversary! And one of the ways we wanted to celebrate was by highlighting here for you some of our best, most memorable instores of all time! We have been so lucky over the years -- we've hosted shows, signings and events with Paul McCartney, Queens of the Stone Age, The Shins, Flight of the Conchords, John Waters, The Gossip and zillions more. You can find video footage and interviews from many of our instores right here! Read on to find out what three of our most seasoned instore reviewers thought were some of our very greatest.

But first, get further immersed in our 20th Anniversary! To check out our first Anniversary blog post, with testimonials from some of our favorite customers,
click here! Our second Anniversary post is an interview with co-owner Marc Weinstein about getting the Berkeley store off the ground all the way back in 1990 and what Amoeba means to him. Read it right here. Our third Anniversary post includes Top 10 lists from some of our old skool employees -- click here to check out their favorites in music and movies from the past 20 years!

out this week 3/2 & 3/9...broken bells...jj...gorillaz...frightened rabbit...blueboy...

Posted by Brad Schelden, March 18, 2010 04:32pm | Post a Comment
We all have those albums that we love so much that sometimes we like to keep them secret. They are our special little albums that we got crazy obsessed with 10 or 20 years ago that we think nobody else knows about. Of course, the world is much smaller than we sometimes fantasize that it is. There are tons of people just like us who like the same things that we do. Many years ago it was harder to find these people. It was sort of easier to have our secret bands that we liked...or it was at least easier to pretend that we were alone in our love of a certain band. This was before you could go to band's myspace page and see how many friends they had. Before you could read all the blogs about them. One of these bands that I was obsessed with is the great fantastic band called Blueboy. They were one of blueboy dirty magsthe greatest of the 90s British indie bands from the label Sarah Records. They were Twee, but they also had elements of shoegaze, indie pop, and Britpop. Sarah Records disappeared many years ago and most of the albums are impossible to find. However, they have slowly been reissued over the years, but it is these Blueboy albums that I have been waiting for.. I was first introduced to this band in 1996 by one of my ex-boyfriends. I was immediately fascinated and in love. I owned all three of the their albums on CD but sold them a couple of years ago. The relationship had ended and I just couldn't bring myself to listen to these albums anymore. I should have just hidden them a box somewhere to be found many years later, because once time had passed I felt the need to have this band in my life again. So of course I searched everywhere for them and I couldn't find them online anywhere. I couldn't find them in any of the Amoeba stores either. They were eventually reissued digitally and I of course ended up buying them this way, but there is something about owning the physical albums. I never really feel like I own an album if I just have it digitally. It just feels like I taped it off the radio or borrowed it from a friend. It never actually feels like my album until I own the physical CD or LP and have it sitting with the rest of my albums. These Blueboy albums were so important to me that I needed to own them. I felt like something was missing in my life without them. So I was I was still waiting for that day when they would be reissued on CD -- I didn't even care about bonus tracks or remastering. I just wanted them back in my collection.

So my dreams came true and the great El Records reissued the first two Blueboy albums a couple of weeks ago. This is now the third and hopefully last time that I have bought these albums, and they are just as amazing as I remember them. The third album, Bank of England, will be reissued very soon as well. If Wishes Were Horses is their first album from 1992 and Unisex is their second album, out in 1994. By the time I got into this band their career was almost over -- their third and final album came out in 1998. As I mentioned, the first two albums came out on Sarah Records, and the third album came out on Shinkansen Recordings, which was the label started by the guy who ran Sarah. Blueboy had two main members, Keith Girdler and Paul Stewart. Other band members came and went, including Harvey Williams and Gemma Townlet. Keith was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and passed away in 2007. It for sure gives the music an extra layer of sadness. Blueboy is sort of like the twee Carpenters in that regard. Even though the songs might be about butterflies and lollipops you can't help but feel a sadness and tragedy beneath all that. Harvey Williams also played in The Field Mice and Trembling Blue Stars. Gemma Townlet played in Trembling Blue Stars.

These albums are seriously amazing. Keith Girdler has one of those unmistakable voices that you just don't find every day. It is British, of course, but it somehow has the ability to be both tragic and happy. At times the band sounds like a mellow Smiths, or a more sincere version of the Lightning Seeds. Sort of like a combination of Heavenly and The Smiths. I have still never heard a band quite like them. I really like their first album, but Unisex is the album that I fell in love with. From the moment the violins start it just takes me back to the first time I fell in love with this album. I know there are many out there who were touched by this band but I am happy that these albums are back so a whole new generation can find this band as well. It was also easy for this band to pass you by. They were never as popular as Belle & Sebastian or The Cardigans, but bands like Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Jens Lekman, Voxtrot, Radio Dept., and Camera Obscura have all been heavily influenced by Blueboy. I feel like almost all of the bands I like have something in common with Blueboy. It is twee pop at its best. This band also made it easy for gay boys to fall in love with these albums. Like The Smiths, the songs are often sexually ambiguous. Both of these reissues come with great bonus tracks. Unisex includes "River," "Nimbus," "Hit," "Dirty Mags," "Loony Tunes," and "Toulouse." If Wishes Were Horses includes "Clearer," "Alison," "Popkiss," "Chelsea Guitar," "Fearon," "Meet Johnny Rave," "Elle," "Air France," "Try Happiness," "A Gentle Sigh," and "Stephanie." You can also find these albums for sale on the Amoeba website under the new Buyer's Picks section, so check them out here.

jj no 3
The long awaited first domestic album by JJ also came out this month. I have been hearing great things about this band for almost a year now but it was almost impossible to find the album JJ no. 2 anywhere. Well, don't you worry, that album will soon be put out domestically by our friends at Secretly Canadian. They just released the band's second full length album JJ no. 3. JJ is still really mysterious to me...I don't really know much about them, but I love this new album. They are from Sweden -- another band to add to the long list of bands that I love from Sweden. They are playing soon at the Echo so I will be checking them out there. They are sort of indie pop's version of Sade. Totally mellow and easy to get lost in. They also remind me of a mellow Sting song. I know that Sting combined with Sade sounds horrible, so maybe forget I mentioned that! But I have been listening to their album over and over again. Love it. Check it out for yourself.

The debut album by Broken Bells also came out on 3/9. Broken Bells is James Mercer from the Shins and producer Dangermouse. I had honestly gotten a bit sick of The Shins! They are great and all but I think I just listened to them a bit too much. It sometimes happens to me with even the best albums. I tend to overplay certain things until I am sick of them, so I was glad to see James Mercer going in a slightly different direction. We both needed a change. The new album is just as good as you want it to be. My favorite track on the album right now is "Mongrel Heart," but here is the first single for you to listen to.

also out 3/2...

Hands by Little Boots

Endless Falls by Loscil

Songs of the Sarah Silverman Show

Hidden by These New Puritans

also out 3/9...

Are the Roaring Night by Besnard Lakes

Beat the Devil's Tattoo by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Bundles by Bundles

Winter of Mixed Drinks by Frightened Rabbit

Sufi & a Killer by Gonjasufi

Plastic Beach by The Gorillaz

Valleys of Neptune by Jimi Hendrix

Tomorrow, in a Year by the Knife

Sisterworld by The Liars

Quarantine the Past by Pavement

Monitor by Titus Andronicus

Last Place You'll Look by We Were Promised Jetpacks

Interview with Rock Photographer Alissa Anderson - Part 2

Posted by Miss Ess, March 5, 2010 03:13pm | Post a Comment

Here we continue the interview with San Francisco's own rock photographer Alissa Anderson! In this edition, aside from more chatting about Alissa's favorite moments in her artistic career, check out photos (some exclusive!) of artists including Joanna Newsom, Vashti Bunyan, Vetiver, CocoRosie, David Byrne, SIlver Jews, Beach House, Bert Jansch, Meg Baird, Devendra Banhart, Donovan, Little Wings and more! Please see Part 1 to catch up!

Joanna Newsom and Neal Morgan - Big Sur - March 28, 2009

Miss Ess: How did you come to photograph the Joanna Newsom show in Big Sur?

You were the only photographer allowed.

Alissa Anderson: I planned on taking pictures from the moment I found out about the show since I knew it was going to be such an intimate and historic occasion. I have shot Jo many times over the years, from her very first shows at the Hemlock, and I hadn’t seen her play in a long time. I’ve shot many times at the Fernwood so I knew what the situation would be like. I brought my Hasselblad and just shot a roll from my seat in the front. I didn’t want to be too distracting for Joanna or the band and it was extremely crowded; I was pretty squished up against the stage! Ironically, my favorite shot ended up being the one of her tuning.

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