Category: Video

Live Footage: The Black Angels’ Alex Maas Releases a Teaser of His Upcoming LEVITATION Session

Alex Maas is an Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter, best known for being the frontman and founding member of acclaimed Austin-based psych rock act The Black Angels and psych rock supergroup MIEN. In 2018, Maas’ life changed with the birth of his first child, a healthy and happy baby boy that he and his partner named Luca, which means bringer of life.

With his son’s birth, Maas experienced a complex flurry of emotions he hadn’t experienced or known before. Of course, he felt profound joy and awe over the creation of a new life — but there was to some lesser degree a deeply gnawing fear: What sort of world was his son going to grow up into and inhabit, exactly? How could Maas protect him its dangers and uncertainties? “The world is definitely messed up,” Maas says in press notes. “But there’s a lot of good in it too, and that’s why the whole world isn’t on fire—parts of it are. I do believe that there’s more good than evil.”

Deriving its name from the name of his first-born son, Maas’ Brett Orrison co-produced, full-length album Luca was released late last year through Innovative Leisure. Although, the album found Maas’ stepping out into the spotlight as a solo artist in his own right, the album’s material was a actually a long time coming, with some of its material dating back almost a decade — and painstakingly put together piece-by-piece over the past couple of years. While still rooted in the psych rock sound that helped win him fans and accolades across the global psych rock scene as a member of The Black Angels and MIEN, Luca’s material offers a much gentler, mediative take, showcasing what Maas says is “a whole different part of my brain.”

Inspired by the enormous skies and quiet, nature-filled expanses of his home state, the album finds Maas contemplating his son’s future in the terrifying and uncertain world, which he was born in and how he may attempt to navigate the perils, disappointments and frustrations of our world and our society. Unsurprisingly, it makes Luca the most personal and direct material, Maas has written and recorded in his nearly two decade recording career.

Last year, I wrote about two of Luca’s album singles:

“The City,” a woozy and intimate campfire-like song with a hauntingly sparse arrangement that reckons with the larger and brutal, historical cycle of human cruelty and violence. The song evokes despair, heartache and horror over the senselessness, stupidity and cruelty of our infighting and behavior towards each other,. “The enemy is always just outside the door and the enemy could be anything,” Maas explains.
“Been Struggling,” a dreamy and shuffling waltz that brings both classic Nashville and Scott Walker to mind, centered around a meditation on memory, fate and loss from the prospective of narrator who has seemingly lived a full and very messy life.

Much like countless other artists across the globe, the pandemic has put touring on hold indefinitely. So, Maas and his backing band — Bryan Richie, Jake Garcia and Rob Kidd — decamped to nearby Bastrop, TX to bring the live show that they had developed around the album’s material to the world through a live performance film, shot in the Texan city’s historic downtown. “We shot this down in an old opera house built in 1889 and a 100 year old German tailor mercantile building in historic downtown, which is now Astro Records,” Maas says in press notes. “This session is a glimpse of what a tour on Luca would look like had we not been in a pandemic. It was a joy to get out and get back with the friends and collaborators I created this album with, and bring these songs to life. For now this is the world tour, and a look at what we’re looking forward to being able to do on stage when we are back up and rolling! Thank you to Jonas Wilson of Mr. Pink Records who asked me originally to film this in the beautiful city of Bastrop.”

Featuring sections from Luca and three new songs, the live session shot in Bastrop, TX will stream as a Levitation Session on March 27, 2021 at 7:00PM Central. To celebrate the upcoming release of the live session and to build up some buzz for it, Levitation and Maas released a sneak peek of the session, “Too Much Hate,” a new song, played in a live setting. Centered around a spectral arrangement of reverb-drenched guitars, driving and tribal-like toms, shimmering keys and Maas’ intimate vocals, “Too Much Hate” is an incisive and thoughtful criticism of the ills of our world: from how we treat each other, how we raised our babies and our penchant for rash and impulsive decisions — without consideration of their long-term effect on ourselves and others. Indeed, there’s too much hate in our world and not enough listening and thinking.

“I tried to touch on a few things on this song that would attempt to identify things that make the world more beautiful,” Maas says of the new single. “I’ve been trying to give solutions and not just speak about the cancer that is eating our culture. Some problems of society are rooted in how we raise our children, how we treat each other and quick uninformed decisions when people shoot from the hip as opposed to sitting back and thinking rationally about how to act instead of reacting.”

You can purchase tickets to the livestream. But along with that you can grab an audio download of the session, plus limited edition cassettes and t-shirts with artwork by Real Fun Wow, available exclusively as part the stream. And you can also purchase a package that includes all of the above, with a limited edition vinyl pressing LP, signed by Maas and his backing band. Purchase link and information can be found here: https://levitation-austin.com/products/alex-maas-stream-ticket

Levitation Sessions Presents Alex Maas will be releasing through all digital retailers on April 9, 2021 and on vinyl early this summer.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay MAGON on Groover Obsessions’ Les Capsules

With the release of Out in the Dark, the Israeli-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter and guitarist MAGON established a sound that he described as “urban rock on psychedelics,” which to my ears seemed indebted to David Bowie and T. Rex.

The Israeli-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter and guitarist released his critically applauded sophomore album, Hour After Hour through December Square/Differ-Ant Records last December. The album, which features Change,” a dreamy meditation on the passing of time, “Aerodynamic,” a decidedly glam rock-inspired take on psych rock and the No Wave meets post-punk like album title track “Hour After Hour,” is a decided change in approach and sonic direction for the Paris-based JOVM mainstay: sonically, the album as MAGON says is “somewhere between Ty Segall, Allah-Las and The Velvet Underground.”

MAGON with his live band recently played a live set for Groover Obsessions’ Les Capsules sessions at La Marbrerie that featured a jammy and trippy version of the aforementioned “Hour After Hour,” one of my favorite songs off his sophomore album and the slow-burning burning and brooding psych rocker “Coucou My Friend.” Both songs in the live session are delivered with an insouciant yet swaggering cool.

New VIdeo: Tia Gostelow Releases a Swooning and Heartfelt Ode to Love

With the release of 2018’s full-length debut album Thick Skin, Mackay, Australia-born, Brisbane-based singer/songwriter Tia Gostelow exploded into the national and international scenes. Thick Skin featured smash hit album single “Strangers,” which was certified Gold after amassing over 12 million Spotify streams. And as a result of “Strangers” commercial success, Gostelow’s full-length debut landed a Triple J album feature, a Queensland Music Award for Album Of The Year, opening slots for Ball Park Music, Frightened Rabbit, The Rubens and Gomez and sets at Falls Festival and SXSW. Thick Skin also landed a Triple J album feature, which may have led to her appearing on the station’s covers series Like A Version.

Gostelow went on her first national headlining tour back in 2019. which she followed up with tours across the States, the UK and European Union. While on tour, the rising Aussie artist started work on her sophomore album, last year’s Oscar Dawson-produced Chrysalis. Chrysalis is a bold and decided change in sonic direction that sees Gostelow moving away from the guitar-based indie rock and folk sound her breakthrough full-length debut and crafting 11 songs of lush, 80s inspired, danceable yet thoughtful synth-based pop.

“Before the songs were even finished I knew I wanted Oscar Dawson to produce the record. He’s a gun and I was obsessed with all of the music coming out that he was producing,” Gostelow continues. “I met up with him in Brisbane and we instantly got along so well. Going into record this album I obviously knew a bit more than I did recording Thick Skin and I was a bit more inclined to have more involvement musically. I played bass, piano and synth on some songs which was really important to me and I’m so grateful that Oscar was so patient with me. He really pushed me to go to places vocally and musically that I probably wouldn’t have done without him which I am also super grateful for!”

“Two Lovers,” Chrysalis’ latest single is an anthemic, 80s synth pop-inspired, escapist confection centered around shimmering synth arpeggios reminiscent of Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back,” an infectious and enormous hook, thumping beats, an atmospheric and dreamy bridge, scorching guitars and Gostelow’s ethereal yet plaintive vocals. Much like The Money War-written “Always,” “Two Lovers” is focused on affairs of the heart — and rooted in the sort of earnest songwriting that can only come from hard-fought and even harder-won personal experience: in the case of “Two Lovers,” the song’s archetypical central couple is desperately fighting to keep their relationship intact during a particularly difficult patch.

Directed by Dom Gould, the recently released, heartfelt video for “Two Lovers” follows a series of couples, who are different ages, different gender expressions and from vastly different walks of life and highlights the best moments of being with someone you love. And often it’s the most simple and banal moments that mean the most — and are the most memorable and importnat. “We wanted to show couples from all walks of life in different scenes, everyone’s story is so different and we wanted to highlight that,” Gostelow says. ” It felt really nice to showcase other stories within a music video instead of it being mostly about me, this song was meant to resonate with people going through things like long distance and being away from loved ones so it only felt right to showcase the best parts of being with the person you love.”

Live Footage: L’Impèratice Performs the Slinky and Retro-Futuristic “Anamolie bleue”

L’Impératice — founder Charles de Boisseguin (keys), Hagni Gown (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), Tom Daveau (drums) and Flore Benguigui (vocals) — is a risingParis-based electro pop sextet that formed back in 2012. And since their formation, the French electro pop act has been extremely busy and prolific: within their first three years together, they released 2012’s self-titled debut EP., 2014’s Sonate Pacifique EP and 2015’s Odyssée EP.

In 2016, L’imperatrice released a re-edited, remixed and slowed down version of Odyssée, L’Empreruer, which was inspired by a fan mistakenly playing a vinyl copy of Odyssée at the wrong speed. L’Impératice followed that up with a version of Odysseé featuring arrangements centered around violin, cello and acoustic guitar. During the summer of 2017, the Parisian electro pop act signed to microqlima records, who released that year’s Séquences EP.

2018’s full-length debut Matahari featured “Erreur 404,” which they performed on the French TV show Quotidien. Since then, the Parisian electro pop act have released an English language version of Matahari — and they’ve been busy working on the highly anticipated Renaud Letang co-produced sophomore album Taku Tsubo. Slated for a March 26, 2021 release through their longtime label home, the album derives its name from the medical term for broken heart syndrome, takutsubo syndrome (蛸 壺, from Japanese “octopus trap”). The condition usually manifests itself as deformation of the heart’s left ventricle caused by severe emotional or physical stress — i.e., the death of a loved one, an intense argument with someone you care about, a breakup, a sudden illness or the like. So, in case you were a wondering: yes, an untreated broken heart can actually kill you.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve written about two of Taku Tsubo’s released singles:

“Voodoo?,” a slinky disco strut featuring a propulsive groove, layers of arpeggiated synths, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and Benguigui’s sultry, come-hither vocals. Interestingly, one of the few songs written and sung in English on the album, the track features a narrator, who attends a party and decides to leave early to read Torture Magazine instead.
“Peur des filles,” another slinky disco floor strut that’s a scathing and sarcastic ode to the differences between men and women that points out how shitty men are.

Album opener “Anomalie bleue” continues a remarkable run of infectious and slinky disco-tinged pop. Centered around an expansive song structure, featuring shimming and glistening synth arpeggios, skittering four-on-the-floor, a strutting wah-wah pedaled bass line, squiggling guitar lines and Benguigui’s come hither vocals, “Anonmalie bleue” is one part Giorgio Moroder-like disco, one part Kraftwerk-like retro-futurism, one part Shalamar-like funk within an expansive, mind-bending song structure. But just under the dance floor friendly grooves, the song’s narrator charmingly describes love-at-first site with a beautiful, blue wearing anomaly that suddenly appears in a lobby full of drab suited con-men, grifters and CEOs and bored business travelers.

Shot late last year as a part of a longer concert stream, this slick and intimately shot footage captures the Parisian sextet wearing Buck Rogers-like outfits while playing their funky grooves.

New Video: People Museum Releases a Brooding Yet Club Friendly Banger

People Museum is a rising New Orleans-based art pop/dance pop act. Inspired by Afro-beat, hip-hop, choral, marching band music, the duo — Jeremy Phipps (trombone, production) and Claire Givens (vocals, keys) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Phipps and Givens were eager to start a music project that incorporated the feelings and vibes of their hometown. Founded with the expressed intention of bringing nature to the future, the New Orleans-based duo’s sound and aesthetic seamlessly meshes their hometown’s beloved and world famous brass band tradition with the Crescent City’s synth heavy, progressive underground scene.

Givens and Phipps’ latest effort I Could Only See The Night EP is slated for an April 9, 2021 release through Community Records and Strange Daisy Records. The EP features a mix of songs made during pandemic-related quarantines last year with songs the duo initially created during the first few months of the duo’s collaboration. Thematically, the EP is reportedly a contemplation on our past, how we are making sense of where we have ended — and as a result, learning how to be more malleable with our visions of what the future could and should be. The songs are an attempt to offer a bit of light in our very dark times while opening space for the listener to reflect, dance or feel joy.

“Forever,” I Could Only See The Night’s latest single is a Larry Levan-era house music influenced club banger that’s full of brooding, late night regret and trepidation centered around shimmering Giorgio Moroder-like synth arpeggios, skittering beats, Phipps’ mournful and melodic trombone played through reverb and delay pedal and Givens’ achingly plaintive vocals. You can literally feel the song’s narrator spiraling into indecision, regret and despair — although they’re desperately trying not to do so.

Directed by Riley Teahan, the recently released video is a brooding fever dream following a series of women trapped within their own thoughts, late at night. Teahan, the video’s director on the video:

“flashing light, thoughts that keep you up at night:
when I think about forever my head starts to spin.
caught in a cycle, the mind is a spiral staircase.
how long did you know it was time to go
before you decided to leave?

“‘Forever’ is a song about cycles and liberation. I know well the feeling of spiraling, how easily you can lose yourself. I asked women to embody a complicated moment of escape, flee, freedom, run, don’t look back.”

Throwback: Happy 77th Birthday, Roger Daltrey

One of the things you should probably know is that I’m a huge fan of The Who. Roger Daltrey has one of the most unique voices in rock. And as it turns out, yesterday was Daltrey’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday, Roger! May there be many, many, many more. Thank you and the band for music that has meant the world to me.

New Video: Hungarian Electro Pop Duo Paperdeer Teams Up With Böbe on a Sleek and Futuristic Single and Visual

Paperdeer is an emerging Budapest-based electronic music production and artist duo featuring Benjámin Kiss and Norbert Biró. The duo will be releasing a new album this year, an album that was written and recorded during pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns. The forthcoming album’s latest single “Fortress,” which features longtime collaborator, Hungarian vocalist Böbe Szécsi is a sleek and slickly produced bit of electro pop featuring layered arpeggiated and twinkling synths, atmospheric electronics, skittering beats, Szécsi’s plaintive vocals and a soaring hook with an expansive song structure. Although the song is bracingly chilly, the song is rooted in the tense uncertainty of our moment, with a pent-up frustration and desperation for necessary change — right now.

“It has been an endeavor in distant music-making,” Paperdeer’s Benjámin Kiss says about their creative process in press notes. “Norbert sent me the initial beats a year ago, and I fell in love with it. So, ever since, we have been going back and forth with the ideas until the song came together. We approached the vocal from two directions and then really completed the tune when we worked out the lyrics.”

“The lyrics of ‘Fortress’ can be interpreted in many ways. In my opinion, it is a cry for help,” Böbe Szécsi says in press notes. “It is enough if you look around: climate change, COVID-19, and political tension are the things that we are faced with and also the burden of uncertainty that it suggests. In the middle of this chaos, I would just want to shout at the top of my lungs to make it stop and to seek meaningful changes otherwise, the consequences will be fatal.” Norbert Biró adds that the song described a feeling of drifting and helplessness which comes around when you are so lost and so little in a massive crowd. You have no other option but to follow because they allow no say in the directions. Böbe, the young woman in the music video, embodies just that.

Directed by Márton István Szabó, who also collaborated on the song’s lyrics, the recently released video features his own technique of reversed digital projection. “We took pictures with a black backdrop, and we made them half-transparent,” Szabó explains. “In this state, we layered them digitally with colors to enhance the character’s body and clothing. My technical approach tied in with the meaning of this song: we mixed drone and studio footages just as we mixed fiction with reality in the story while also portraying the exhaustion that comes from escapism.”

Throwback: Black History Month: Wu-Tang Clan

Today is February 28, 2021. It’s the last day of February and of Black History Month. Throughout the past month, I’ve featured Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of greens and styles — with the hopes that this series will serve as a sort of primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

While we’re at it, let’s remember the following:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

I’ve often said that hip-hop is the lingua franca of everyone under about 55 or so. And to that end, I’d almost guarantee that everyone from New York to Beijing, from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam from Johannesburg to New Delhi knows and loves the legendary Wu-Tang Cla

Throwback: Black History Month: Gil Scott-Heron

Today is February 28, 2021. It’s the last day of February and of Black History Month. Throughout the past month, I’ve featured Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of greens and styles — with the hopes that this series will serve as a sort of primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

While we’re at it, let’s remember the following:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Gil Scott-Heron is sort of a spiritual godfather to hip-hop and neo-soul — and I can make a fair argument that Public Enemy, Common, Talib Kweli and Mos Def, a.k.a Yasin Bey are indebted to the legend’s work, which threw together spoken word poetry, jazz, the blues and rock in a difficult to pigeonhole mix. And although he hasn’t been with us in about a decade, his work is still an incisive, unnerving look at race in America and globally.

Throwback: Black History Month: Queen Latifah

Today is February 28, 2021. It’s the last day of February and of Black History Month. Throughout the past month, I’ve featured Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of greens and styles — with the hopes that this series will serve as a sort of primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

While we’re at it, let’s remember the following:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

I have to show more love to the ladies. I immediately thought of the ridiculously talented, charismatic and beautiful Queen Latifah.