San Francisco Trip, Pt 2: Cobras and Fire

Posted in Buried Treasure, Features on July 15th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

amoeba music san francisco storefront

When in Rome, you do as the Romans. When in Cali, you get your ass to Amoeba Music. An Amoeba haul is a special thing. It had been five years — half a decade! — since the last time I set foot in Amoeba‘s San Francisco store, right on Haight Street, more or less the birthplace of American counterculture, or at very least where it moved to from the Midwest because it was okay to be weird there. It is a shop we must remember we are fortunate to still have in existence. Places like Sound Garden in Baltimore, Vintage Vinyl in my beloved Garden State, and the three Amoebas in San Fran, Berkeley and L.A. are treasures. Landmarks. Their preservation may not be government-sanctioned, but they’re no less essential as living monuments of our age.

I’d gotten in after two in the morning. My flight from Boston to SFO was delayed… by five and a half hours. Something about a flat tire on the plane that then wound up requiring an entirely different aircraft altogether. Oh, we sat, and sat. Supposed to be a 5PM flight, took off just after 10:30. What a shitter, but at least it took off at all. I slept about 20 minutes on the plane — remember, with the time zone shift, a 2AM West Coast arrival is still 5AM to my very red East Coast eyes — and then crashed at the hotel, woke up this morning and spent the bulk of they day shaking hands at the convention that brought me out here, trading business cards and the like. All the while, lurking at the back of my mind was Amoeba Music, its call resonating like a dogwhistle nobody else around me could hear. I could’ve cried when I got out of the cab and it was there, just like I remembered.

Seems likely there was more vinyl around than five years ago, though I wouldn’t commit to that 100 percent, not really remembering one way or the other, but in any case, I still found plenty in the CD racks; the notion of traveling with LPs, the general expenditure and desire to actually listen to the music keeping me to the more compressed format, and no regrets. Here’s what I grabbed, alphabetically:

Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
Black Rainbows, Carmina Diablo
Electric Wizard, Time to Die
Horsehunter, Caged in Flesh
Monolord, Vaenir
Parliament, Motor Booty Affair
Stoneburner, Caged in Flesh
SubRosa, More Constant than the Gods
Swans, To be Kind
Tekhton, Alluvial
Wino & Conny Ochs, Latitudes
Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate

amoeba haulOf those, it turns out the Black Rainbows was a double. I suspected as much, but I spotted it at the front of the clearance section and it was a dollar, so I figured even if I had it, another wouldn’t hurt. Getting stuff like the Acid King and Monolord was nigh on mandatory, the former because it’s San Francisco and that album is incredible and the latter because it’s a RidingEasy Records release and while I’m pretty sure that label is headquartered south of here, you don’t find that stuff every day on the Eastern Seaboard.

Conversely, I was looking for a bunch of stuff from Tee PeeMirror Queen, The Atomic Bitchwax, Death Alley — that was seemingly nowhere to be found, and I wondered if geographic distance between myself and the NY-based label didn’t have something to do with it. The rule is you take what you can get, and I was happy to do that. The Horsehunter was also absurdly cheap, I’m not really sure why. Between that and the Black Rainbows, it was much easier to justify paying upwards of $14 for new discs and $20 for the Labour of Love Latitudes session from Wino & Conny Ochs. I was on the phone griping to The Patient Mrs. as I walked around the store that somehow even though compact discs are “out of fashion” prices haven’t come down on them and she reminded me to think of it as a premium for being in a place so awesome. She was, of course, 100 percent right. Issue resolved.

Parliament‘s Motor Booty Affair to feed my continued funk addiction, and Stoneburner mostly because it was there, it’s Neurot and I don’t already have it. The Swans is the three-disc special edition of last year’s To be Kind (review here) that also comes with a live DVD as a bonus. Can’t imagine I’ll ever watch the thing, but it’s nice to have. Speaking of stuff I won’t actually put on, I know for a fact I haven’t listened to the Electric Wizard since I reviewed it (the promo was digital), but I heard something about them having a spat with Spinefarm over money or some such and that the album was subsequently out of print, so I figured better now than five years from now on eBay or Amazon. It will likely stay wrapped, but at least it’ll be in the library.

It’s been six years and I still recall enjoying Tekhton‘s first album, Summon the Core (review here), so to find a copy of the 2009 follow-up to that 2007 debut was cool enough to drive me toward the purchase, and Wovenhand are Wovenhand, which is all the justification that one needs. Speaking of bands who played Roadburn this year, as Wovenhand did, I nabbed 2013’s More Constant than the Gods by SubRosa mostly because I missed them at that festival and they’ve continued to haunt me ever since. I’m not sure if playing the record or having paid for it — like a church bribe — will exorcise that demon, but it seemed worth a shot. I’m sure I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tomorrow is more work stuff, starting bright and early and ending less-bright and late. I may or may not make it to Aquarius Records, as had been my hope, but if this turns out to be all the shopping I get to do on this trip, I can’t really complain. And of course, if you’re in SF, get your ass to Amoeba Music.

SubRosa, More Constant than the Gods (2013)

Amoeba Music

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Friday Long-Player: Funkadelic, Funkadelic (1970)

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s an album not of your world, but fear it not. I guess sometimes you just get into a groove on something, but I must’ve listened to the Funkadelic self-titled debut like six different times over the course of this week. Oh, my office was jammin’. Maybe not. Still fun though, and as much as anything’s ever been a classic, this is. Rocking this and the new Clutch record (review here) back-to-back, you really get to hear the Dan Maines blueprint in some of these songs. I also had Humble Pie‘s Smokin’ on in the car before. There’s some of that in there too.

Anyway, I couldn’t think of a better way to end a long, spaced-out week than this 1970 wonder, also long, also spaced-out. It’s a ham hock in your corn flakes. What part of the evening I didn’t spend wolfing down a calzone, I’ve spent watching Star Trek and feeling worn out. Two shows I missed tonight. Usually, I’ll miss one. Tonight, two. Mighty High played with White Dynomite, and Samothrace played with Bezoar and Pilgrim, both shows in a Brooklyn too far. A long, discouraging day at work that began with a $1,700 mechanic bill, and I’m broke, beat and ready to give it another go tomorrow. That Samothrace tour rolls into Philly for Saturday night. Think I might do the same if I can. Gotta put that new front suspension to work on something, might as well be I-95.

Yo.

Thanks to everyone who checked in this week. I haven’t looked at the February numbers yet, but it seemed like things got a pretty good response in terms of people spreading around links if not necessarily comments on everything. So it goes. I guess I’m too wordy most of the time, by the time someone finishes (if they finish), they probably feel like too much has been said already. I can dig it. Sometimes I don’t have much to say either.

If I do wind up at that Samothrace show in Philly, look out for a review of that. Eggnogg‘s also got a gig somewhereabouts next Wednesday that I might try to hit up because I like those guys. Live reviews are a shit-ton of work — though I just bought a fancypants new lens for my camera last week and that adds to the fun — and when something lands as flat as did that Enslaved/Pallbearer review did, can be kind of a bummer. That one would’ve made a thud had anyone been paying enough attention to hear it. So it goes. They can’t all be gold, or Acid King, which the band was kind enough to share on Thee Facebooks. Acid King has been stuck in my head all week too. Not a complaint.

This week, I’ll also be reviewing The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic‘s new record and posting that Endless Boogie interview I alluded to last week or whenever that was. If you’re not familiar, that review is here and that record is awesome. I kinda got annoyed at the hierarchy of industry cool involved in chasing down track streams with labels and PR, so I’ve all but cut that out, but maybe I’ll try and get something going anyway, just for kicks. Not that we’re exactly lacking music around here anyway. Media blitz and shit.

Wherever you are and whatever you end up doing over the next couple days, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. See you on the forum if that’s your thing, which I hope it is. The Patient Mrs. and I are waiting to hear back on an offer we put in on a house in Massachusetts, so maybe one of these days I’ll have some good news to post that doesn’t involve somebody’s next record or European tour. If you’ll pardon me now though, I’m gonna uncross my fingers before I go to sleep. Okay.

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Buried Treasure and the Mountains Underground

Posted in Buried Treasure on March 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

There’s always something special about a basement record store, so I was only too glad to descend the flight of stairs leading to Boston’s Armageddon Shop during my recent trip there to see Black Pyramid, Gozu and Infernal Overdrive at Radio in Somerville. I’d been to the Providence location before, and found it much to my liking, so the Boston one seemed an obvious choice to pass some time before the show.

From what I understand, it’s relatively new, and it looks it. The walls, but for a large cork bulletin board overflowing with flyers, were painted bright white — very neo-black metal — and the floor was clean and unscuffed, kind of emphasizing a minimalist look. It wasn’t cramped, as a lot of record stores are, and the entire right side of the store and most of the left as well was devoted to well-spaced bins of vinyl. A shelf directly across from the entrance had some tapes on it, so I went there first.

It doesn’t appear in the picture above, but that’s only because I’ve been so unwilling to remove it from my car since I made the purchase. For $3.99, I got a cassette of C.O.C.‘s Wiseblood, and of all the money I spent that night, that was hands-down some of the best. CDs took up a whole section of the back wall (there were some dollar boxes as well that I glanced through) with the discs positioned sideways so you had to crane your head even as you bent down to look at the bottom rows.

Turned out to be worth the effort. I bought The Body‘s Anthology, because hey, it’s New England, and Paracletus, by Deathspell Omega, because I figured I’d want it eventually and I might as well spend the money there rather than give it to Amazon or whoever. There was a cheapy copy of last year’s Aphotic by Novembers Doom, and I’ll probably never listen to it, but I got that anyway, just to have it, and a used version of The Late Great Planet Earth by Mos Generator that I figured (rightly) would do my rockin’ soul some good.

The finds of the trip, though, were an original CD issue of Parliament‘s Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome — which fucking rules — and the first Witch Mountain record, Come the Mountain. I’m sure I could find all kinds of reissues of Funkentelechy if I wanted to, but it was cool to hear a first-run pressing (cooler still because it too was $3.99) and Cordell Mosson‘s bass and Bernie Worrell‘s keys make the whole thing. And the Witch Mountain I just figured I’d missed the boat on and would never find, what with it being released over a decade ago, the label Rage of Achilles being defunct and the band being on the other side of the country.

I guess you never know what you’ll find, which is probably the reason I keep going to these places even as they seemingly all start to phase out CDs in favor of vinyl. General compulsion you could consider as a secondary factor, but either way, I was glad I had the chance to hit up this Armageddon Shop, because like the other one in Providence, it was a cause definitely worth supporting. Check out their website here.

 

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