Hello SFAS readers! Meesh here, reporting from a quick vacation in sunny Los Angeles. Every time I visit the city, I have to make a stop at one of my favorite spots - Amoeba Records on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. This massive two-story establishment sells new and used CDs, records, movies, and music memorabilia. The store is always bustling, with up to 17 cash registers working at any one time to accommodate music-seekers from near and far. There are occasional live in-store performances from local and national acts, and the website features “What’s In My Bag?” articles from musicians who shop in the store. Music-lovers can even shop for new titles online through the site.
[This only shows about half of the main floor, as taken from the staircase]
According to their website, Amoeba was founded in 1990 on the idea of creating a sense of community that corporate chain stores could not provide. The first store opened in Berkeley, California, followed by two additional locations in Hollywood and San Francisco. The store staff are required to be quite knowledgeable about music, and many are musicians themselves. Amoeba also fosters a sense of awareness and community by raising money through donations and auctions for relief organizations, rainforest conservation groups, and other charitable causes. The stores have thrived since their opening and showcase an ever-changing stock that is never disappointing.
[Mural on one side of the building]
In the past, a quick check in the “used” section for my favorite artists has resulted in some great finds, from two out-of-print Eisley EPs to a copy of Lifehouse’s second album signed by all four members of the band. On this trip, I spent about $50 and left the store with many goodies (including several items I’ve been meaning to buy for ages). Here’s my own personal “What’s In My Bag”:
-CD: The Sounds - Living in America -CD: Rise Against - Siren Song of the Counter Culture -CD: Dashboard Confessional - Alter the Ending (2-disc set) -CD: Howie Day - Sound the Alarm -CD: Brand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me -DVD: Office Space -DVD: Juno
[Stairwell/elevator from the parking garage into the store]
If you’re ever in the area, I highly encourage you to make some time in your schedule to peruse the aisles and see what you can find. Amoeba has been a must for me since I started visiting Los Angeles five years ago, and I’m sure it could become one of your favorite places to visit as well. [In addition, I would be remiss not to mention a great place to eat. Swingers Diner at 8020 Beverly Boulevard is my other favorite spot in Hollywood. The menu features a wide variety of options, from diner standards to vegetarian/vegan fare. The establishment is quite popular (especially in the late hours) with young people and local musicians, and I have previously seen it referred to as “A Hipster Denny’s.” However, I’ve seen people from all walks of life enjoying the excellent food - GET THE HUMMUS.]
Regardless of where you visit in the country, always ask around to find local independent music stores. You never know what you might find!
Is it love? Is it war? Is it all I have left to live for?
Early last March, Chicago favorites Silent Sirens, called it quits. While it’s always upsetting to see a well loved band announce their final shows, it is equally invigorating to watch new projects rise from the ashes of the old. Jesse Christenson, lead guitarist and songwriter of Silent Sirens, has since begun his newest undertaking, a solo project entitled The Aesthetic.
So far, Christenson is The Aesthetic’s only member, requiring him to play every instrument on the self-produced release entitled Genesis, due for a fall release later this year. He is doing all of the recording himself in his home studio, where he also operates as Midcoast Audio, producing for artists and bands such as The Fireship and Stars For Headlights. Guest appearances on The Aesthetic’s first release have been speculated on, but so far, there have been no official announcements. A midwest tour complete with a live, full band is planned to support the release this fall.
While social media has vastly opened up a new insight into the artistic method, few exemplify it as well as Jesse Christenson does with The Aesthetic. Near daily updates about the recording process can be found on the band’s Facebook and Twitter, documenting both his successes and his failures, along with his personal thoughts on The Aesthetic journey he has embarked on. Citing influences from the likes of The Killers, Hans Zimmer, and Anberlin, The Aesthetic is an up and coming project worth jumping on the band wagon for.
Earlier today, The Aesthetic’s first single, Alone Tonight, was released for a free mp3 download here. Give it a listen and get ready for the latest addition to Chicago’s noteworthy music scene.