Amoeblog

Albums Out 2/5: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Jim James, Grouper and More

Posted by Billy Gil, February 5, 2013 10:50am | Post a Comment

Album Picks:

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II

CD $12.98

LP $14.98

Lo-fi psych-pop band Unknown Mortal Orchestra grow and refine their sound by leaps and bounds on their second album. While the band’s fine self-titled debut reveled in its Syd Barret-inspired weirdness, II ups the ante by funneling its odd turns into pop songs that seem to activate new nodes in your brain. “From the Sun” makes like a White Album demo, stuffing its rich arrangement into the washing machine — it comes out with colors mismatched but intact. “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)” is high-flying indie-pop that doesn’t have to ask to make itself at home on loop. By the time you’re three songs in, with the soft vintage soul of “So Good at Being in Trouble,” II becomes remarkable rather than merely enjoyable. From space-rock (“No Need for a Leader”) to glammy soul (“Secret Xtians”) to Madchester-style Britpop (“Faded in the Morning”), Unknown Mortal Orchestra seem to have digested decades worth of bargain-bin records and made the sounds their own on II.

 

Jim James - Regions Of Light & Sound Of God

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Video: Mariachi El Bronx Live at Amoeba

Posted by Billy Gil, May 17, 2012 06:09pm | Post a Comment
Mariachi El Bronx stopped by Amoeba Hollywood to play their uniquely American take on traditional Mariachi music. Bedecked in black mariachi garb and with horns in tow, the band played a set of tracks from their 2011 album Mariachi El Bronx II.

Mariachi El Bronx started as post-hardcore band The Bronx before incorporating mariachi elements for this side project, which began when the band was asked to do an acoustic version of the song “Dirty Leaves” from The Bronx’s self-titled second album for a television show and they turned it into a mariachi dirge.

“We never wanted The Bronx to be a soft, quiet band,” says frontman Matt Caughthran, “but this freed up a whole new realm. Sometimes you don’t realize the barriers around yourself until you step outside them. It was a big moment in our career, breathing new life into the band.”



Band members Caughthran, Joby J. Ford (guitar), Jorma Vik (drums) Brad Magers (trumpet), Ken Horne (jarana/guitar), and Vincent Hidalgo (guitarrón) then studied up on YouTube, no less, while touring with The Bronx to make Mariachi El Bronx happen. Learning all the mariachi styles, such as norteno, jorocho, juasteka, bolero, and corridos was essential.

“Mariachi has rules,” Caughthran says. “We learned everything we could out of respect, especially as we’re a bunch of white guys — well, except for Ken, who’s Japanese.”

The band eventually came to include Ray Suen on violin and satellite members Alfredo Ortiz on percussion styles and guitarrón player Karla Tovar. Caughthran says the merge of styles isn’t so strange to him, having grown up in the gringo minority in East L.A. neighborhood Pico Rivera.

“My two favorite bands were always Black Flag and Los Lobos, so it all makes sense,” he says.

The band launches its summer tour this week. Dates are below:

05/18/12 Kansas City, MO The Riot Room *
05/19/12 St. Louis, MO Firebird *
05/20/12  Chicago, IL  Sailor Jerry’s Presents * 
05/21/12  Cleveland, OH  The Beachland Ballroom * 
05/22/12  Philadelphia, PA  Sailor Jerry’s Presents * 
05/24/12  New York, NY  Rocks Off Cruise Aboard the Princess *  
05/25/12  Hartford, CT  Comcast Theatre * 
05/26/12   Buffalo, NY The Mohawk Place * 
05/27/12  Toronto, Canada  Sound Academy # 
05/28/12  Montreal, Canada  Metropolis # 
05/31/12  Portland, ME  State Theatre # 
06/01/12  Boston, MA Bank of America Pavilion # 
06/02/12  Hunter Mtn, NY  Mountain Jam &  
06/03/12  Washington, DC  9:30 Club $ 
06/05/12  Charlottesville, VA  Jefferson Theater $ 
06/06/12   Asheville  The Orange Peel $ 
06/10/12   Manchester, TN  Bonnaroo % 
07/22/12   Dover, DE  Firefly Festival ^ 
* with Two Gallants
# with Gogol Bordello and Two Gallants
& with Ben Folds FiveGov’t Mule and more
$ with tUne-yArDs
% with RadioheadRed Hot Chili PeppersBad Brains and more
^ with The KillersThe Black KeysJack White and more