Tag: Austin TX

Live Footage: The Black Angels Performs “Manipulation” at LEVITATION Festival with Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dihr

Levitation Festival (formerly known as Austin Psych Fest) can trace its beginnings to a simple idea devised by the members of The Black Angels in the back of a tour van in 2007 — let’s invite all of our favorite bands and all of our friends for our version of a music festival.

The inaugural Austin Psych Fest was in March 2008 and by popular demand, the festival expanded to a three day event the following year. The festival quickly became an international destination for psych rock fans with lineups featuring up-and-comers, cult favorites, legendary and influential acts and a headlining set from The Black Angels. Renamed Levitation in honor of Austin psych rock pioneers The 13th Floor Elevators, the festival has sparked an new, international psych rock movement while inspiring the creation of several similar events across the globe, including Levitation Festival events in Chicago, Vancouver, France and a SXSW showcase, as well as other special events in Europe and Latin America.

Late last year, Levitation Festival’s record label, The Reverberation Appreciation Society announced the launch of a new live album series, Live at LEVITATION. Comprised of material played and recorded throughout the festival’s decade-plus history, the live album series specifically captures and documents key artists in the contemporary psych rock scene. Of course, many of these moments were also important moments of Austin’s live music scene.

The live series’ first album Kikagaku Moyo — Live at LEVITATION featured two different Kikagaku Moyo sets — their 2014 Levitation Festival set, which was one of the Japanese psych rock act’s first Stateside shows and their return to Levitation back in 2019, during a sold-out Stateside tour. Live at LEVITATION’s second album The Black Angels — Live at LEVITATION features the festival’s founders The Black Angels. Comprised of material recorded at Austin Psych Fest 2010, 2011 and 2012, the album captures a rare glimpse of the festival’s early days — and for Black Angels fans, like myself, it also features six songs from their first two albums, Passover and Directions to See a Ghost.

The Black Angels — Live at LEVITATION is slated for a March 26, 2021 digital and vinyl release through The Reverberation Society, and as The Black Angels’ Christian Bland explains in press notes, “Since the beginning The Black Angels were meant to be heard live. This record captures the rumble of the drums and amps, and the very essence of the way it should sound. Now future generations and new listeners can now hear how these songs were meant to be heard.”

The album’s first single is hypnotic and menacing live version of Passover single “Manipulation” that features a mesmerizing guest spot from Elephant Stone’s bassist, sitarist and frontman Rishi Dihr. The accompanying live footage was filmed at Austin’s Seaholm Power Plant.

New Video: Dayglow Releases a Playful Visual for Shimmering Pop Confection “Close to You”

20-something Aledo, TX-born, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Sloan Struble is the creative mastermind behind the rising, critically applauded indie rock/indie pop project Dayglow. The project aesthetically is centered around a hard-fought, hard-won yet palpably sincere optimism that can trace its origins to Struble’s adolences, growing up in a Fort Worth suburb that he has referred to as a “small football-crazed town,” where he felt irrevocably out of place — and as a result, he turned to music, as a escape from his surroundings. “I didn’t really feel connected to what everyone else in my school was into, so making music became an obsession for me, and sort of like therapy in a way,” Struble said in press notes. “I’d dream about it all day in class, and then come home and for on songs instead of doing homework. After a while I realized I’d made an album.”

Working completely on his own with a minuscule collection of gear that included his guitar, his computer and some secondhand keyboards he picked up at Goodwill, Struble worked on transforming his privately kept outpouring into a batch of songs — often grandiose in scale. “Usually artists will have demos they’ll bounce off other people to get some feedback, but nobody except for my parents down the hall really heard much of the album until I put it out,” Struble recalled. With the self-release of 2018’s Fuzzybrain, the Aledo-born, Austin-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer received widespread attention and an ardent online following — with countess listeners praising the material’s overwhelming positivity.

In 2019, Struble re-released a fully realized version of Fuzzybrain that featured Can I Call You Tonight,” a track that wound up being a smash-hit lat year, as well as two previously unreleased singles “Nicknames” and “Listerine.” With the two new singles, teh album further establishes Struble’s reputation for illuminating emotional pain in a way that not only deeply resonates with listeners but while managing to make that emotional pain feel lighter.

Continuing upon that momentum, Struble kicks off 2021 with the infectious and sugary pop confection “Close to You.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, and a two-step inducing groove, “Close to You” sonically is indebted to 80s synth-led soul — in particular Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald’s “On My Own” Cherelle’s and Alexander O’Neal’s “Saturday Love” and other duets, but imbued with an aching melancholy and uncertainty.

“There is just a certain danceable yet melancholy feeling about 80’s pop duets that I wanted to channel into,” Struble explains. “‘Close to You’ was intended to be performed as a duet, but ended up essentially being a duet with myself (which makes sense in the context of the lyrics).The song itself is about the tension between two people at a party that never said hello. It’s about the excitement and perfect fantasy you play in your head prior to seeing that person, the mediocre and nervous reality of the actual moment you see them, and the let down that always comes afterwards it not being what had always and only been living in your head. I envision the song being played inside someone’s brain— kind of like the movie Inside Out– after they are leaving a party, thinking about what they wish would have happened. But in reality, they are actually just singing to and about themselves.”

Directed and edited by Amos David McKay, the recently released video for “Close to You” manages to dial into the 80s-inspired nostalgia of its accompanying song: we see Struble in a teal suit dancing to the song in a orange lit studio space — and singing to himself in the mirror, making the song a duet with himself. Although it’s subtly implied, the video finds its protagonist essentially attempting to pump himself up and deal with disappointment — with a smile and a positive outlook to it all.

Struble is currently working on his highly-anticipated Dayglow sophomore album, which is slated for release this year. Be on the lookout.

New Video: Austin’s Sun June Releases a Gorgeous Visual for Atmospheric New Single

Austin, TX-based indie rock act Sun June — founding members Laura Colwell and Stephen Salisbury with Michael Bain (guitar), Sarah Schultz (drums) and Justin Harris (bass) — can trace their origins to when its founding members started the band while they working long hours in director Terrence Malick’s editing rooms, and they would practice whenever Malick was out of town.

Sometime in 2017, they worked with Cross Record’s and Loma’s Dan Duszynski and fellow Malick album and Sleep Good’s Will Paterson on their first set of demos before eventually settling on their current lineup. While working on their Evan Kaspar-produced full-length debut, 2018’s Years at Estuary Recording Facility, the members of the band caught the attention of Keeled Scales Records‘ label head Tony Presley, who lived above the studio and signed the band.

Recorded live to tape without overdubs or any other processing, Years as the band explained in press notes was a “we’ve-been-a-broken-up-a-long-time” album with the material exploring how loss — of friends, family members and even partners — evolves over time, and how one deals with it, but while not being too heavy or serious.

Sun June’s sophomore album Somewhere reportedly showcases a gentle but pronounced maturation of the band’s sound, while featuring 11 songs that bristle with love and longing. The album’s third and latest single, “Bad Girl” is slow-burning and cinematic bit of dream pop centered around shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths and Colwell’s tender vocals. While sonically bringing Slow Air-era Still Corners and others to mind, the song longingly looks back on the freedom and carefree nature of youth with a simultaneous sepia-tinged nostalgia and the perspective gained from getting older.

“Bad Girl is about a deep manic drive to regress into the person I used to be — back when being bad was cool and being cool was everything,” Sun June’s Laura Colwell explains. “I was given a lot of freedom as a teenager and always took advantage of it. After I lost a good friend in high school, my fear of death was overwhelming. The song reflects on how that fear combined with my own thrill-seeking affected my decisions since. It cycles through self-destructive choices I’ve made in relationships to avoid responsibility, and how my fear of loss has lead me down some dumb paths. The tone is sad and resigned, but also self-righteous somehow.

“There’s something pushing and pulling between the lyrics and the beat, so we thought a dance video might draw out some internal tension,” adds Colwell, about the recently released video. “We filmed around Lockhart, TX, where we recorded the album, because there are so many farms and fields out there that are unchanged despite the area’s growth. We took some inspiration from films like Blood Simple and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, which were also shot in rural towns just outside of Austin. Basically, we tried to channel Frances McDormand, Willie Nelson, and Haim (if Haim were an only child).

Somewhere is slated for a February 5, 2021 through Run For Cover and Keeled Scales.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Black Pumas on Tiny Desk (at Home)

Over the past year or so, I’ve spilled a ton of virtual ink covering the Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act and JOVM mainstays, Black Pumas over the past year. Led by Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada and San Fernando Valley-born singer/songwriter and guitarist Eric Burton, the acclaimed act can trace their origins back to 2017.

Burton, who grew up singing in church and in musical theater, started busking at the Santa Monica pier, where he brought in a few hundred dollars a day while developing the stage presence, that would later win attention both nationally and internationally. He then traveled across the Western US, eventually relocating to Austin, where he set up a busking spot on 6th Street and Congress, a prime location in the city’s busy downtown neighborhood for maximum exposure.

Meanwhile Quesada was looking to collaborate with someone new. He had been reaching out to friends in Los Angeles and London but nothing seemed to fit. Serendipitously, a mutual friend recommended Burton to Quesada, with that friend telling Quesada that Bruton was the best vocalist he had ever heard. As the story goes, Quesada had reached out to Burton, but it took the San Fernando Valley-born, Austin-based singer/songwriter a while to respond. “My friends were like ‘Dude, you’re a mad man, you need to hit that guy back!’” Burton recalls. When Burton did call Quesada, he sang to him over the phone. “I loved his energy, his vibe, and I knew it would be incredible on record,” Quesada says. “From the moment I heard him on the phone, I was all about it.”

Last year, the duo along with a talented cast of collaborators released their breakthrough full-length debut. And since the self-titled debut’s release, the album has sold 155,000+ album equivalents worldwide, with smash hit “Colors” hitting #1 on Adult Album Alternative (AAA) radio and has been streamed over 60 million times. They also maintained a relentless tour schedule across North America that brought their uplifting and powerful live show to New York three times: The Knitting Factory, last May; Mercury Lounge, last July; and Brooklyn Bowl last September. Additionally, the band began to make stops across the nationally televised, talk show circuit, playing Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Ellen Show and others.

And adding to a breakthrough year, Black Pumas earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist along with fellow JOVM mainstay Yola — with both acts anti-climatically losing out to Billie Eilish.

This year has seen the release of a deluxe version of their breakthrough self-titled album — and it features new artwork, previously unpublished in-studio and live performance photographs and a bonus 7 inch featuring three previously unreleased originals, live in-studio versions of popular album singles “Colors,” “October 33,” and “Confines;” a live version of “Know You Better,” recorded at C-Boys Heart & Soul, the Austin club, where the band first made a name for themselves, as well as attention-grabbing covers of The Beatles‘ “Eleanor Rigby,” (a staple of their live shows), Death’s “Politicians in My Eyes,” Bobby “Blue” Bland‘s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City,” and Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car,” which they premiered on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Continuing upon an enviable run of success, Black Pumas recently received three nominations for the 2021 Grammys — Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best American Roots Performance for “Colors.” And they’ve capped off the year with an NPR Tiny Desk (At Home) session that featured album singles “Fire,” “Oct 33,” and “Colors,” as well as set opener “Red Rover.” And although they’re performing in an empty studio — it’s a pandemic after all — the NPR set is fueled by the same passionate and soulful spirit of their live sets.

New Video: Alex Maas Releases a Meditative and Melancholic Visual for “The City”

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

With Luca’s brith, Maas experienced a flurry of emotions he hadn’t felt before.There was profound joy and awe over the creation of a new life — but there was to some lesser degree, a gnawing fear: What sort of world was his son going to grow up into, exactly? And how could Maas protect him from its dangers? “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.”

Named for his first-born child, Maas’ Brett Orrison co-produced full-length debut Luca saw its official release today through Innovative Leisure. Interestingly, the new album was actually a long time coming, with some of it material dating back almost a decade — and put together piece-by-piece over the past couple of years. Featuring songs that are a much gentler, meditative take on the psych rock sound he’s best known for, the album is a decided sonic departure, showcasing what Maas says is “a whole different part of my brain.”

Driven by the quiet, nature-filled expanses of his home state, Luca finds Maas contemplating his son’s future, the terrifying and uncertain world he was born in and how to navigate the perils and frustrations of our society. And as a result. Luca is arguably the most personal and direct material Maas has written in his nearly two decade recording career.

“The City,” Luca‘s latest single is a woozy and intimate campfire song that reckons with the larger, historical cycle of human violence. The hauntingly sparse arrangement — guitar and Maas’ imitable vocals — manages to evoke the horror, terror and senselessness of our behavior to one another. “The enemy is always just outside the door and the enemy could be anything,” Maas explains.

To celebrate the release of the album, the Laura Lynn Petrick-directed video for “The City” was shot on grainy and old-timey Super 8 film — and the visual is a meditative and melancholic look at America, capturing the mundanity of the country with a sort of bleary-eyed exhaustion.

New Audio: The Black Angels’ Alex Maas Releases a Haunting New Single off His Solo Debut

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

With Luca’s brith, Maas experienced a flurry of emotions he hadn’t felt before.There was profound joy and awe over the creation of a new life — but there was to some lesser degree, there was a gnawing fear: What sort of world was his son going to grow up into, exactly? And how could Maas protect him from its dangers? “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.”

Named for his first-born child, Maas’ Brett Orrison co-produced full-length debut Luca is slated for a December 4, 2020 please through Innovative Leisure. The album was a long time coming, with some of its material dating back almost a decade — and put together piece-by-piece over the past couple of years. Featuring songs that are a much gentler, meditative take on the psych rock sound we know him for, the album is a decided sonic departure, showcasing what Maas says is “a whole different part of my brain.”

Driven by the quiet, nature-filled expanses of his home state, Luca finds Maas contemplating his son’s future, the terrifying and uncertain world he was born in and how to navigate the perils and frustrations of our society. And as a result. Luca is arguably the most personal and direct material Maas has written in his nearly two decade recording career.

Last month, I wrote about “Been Struggling,” a dreamy and shuffling waltz that reminded me a bit of the melancholy psychedelia of Scott Walker and the classic Nashville sound — but while centered around meditation of memory, fate and loss from the perspective of a narrator, who has lived a messy and full life. “The City,” Luca’s latest single is a woozy and intimate campfire that reckons with the larger, historical cycle of human violence. The hauntingly sparse arrangement manages to evoke the horror, terror and senselessness of our behavior to one another. “The enemy is always just outside the door and the enemy could be anything,” Maas explains.

Live Footage: Tokyo’s Kikagaku Moyo Performs “Smoke and Mirrors” at LEVITATION 2014

Deriving their name from a Japanese phrase that translates into English as “geometric patterns,” Tokyo, Japan-based psych rock act Kikagaku Moyo was formed back in 2012 by its founding members Go Kurosawa (drums vocals) and Tomo Katsurada (guitar, vocals) as a free music collective that experimented with and explored psych rock and space rock while busking around their hometown. Shortly after their formation, Daoud (guitar) joined the band. Daoud met Kotsu Guy (bass), who was recording local vending machines for a noise project. Guy was recruited and was became the band’s fourth official member. Kurosawa’s brother Ryu (sitar) joined the band after returning from Kolkata, where he studied sitar under Manilal Nag.

By the following year, the band had written, recorded and released their self-titled, full-length debut, which caught the attention of Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records, who released the Tokyo-based act’s sophomore album, 2014’s Forest of Lost Children. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the members of Kikagaku Moyo started to tour internationally making appearances across the festival circuit, including Desert Daze and Levitation.

Around then, their self-titled debut was re-issued through Burger Records through cassette tape as a result of high-demand. The band followed up with Mammatus Clouds, which was initially released on cassette tape through Sky Lantern Records and later as a 12 inch LP by Cardinal Fuzz Records in the UK and Captcha Records in the States. The band continued a busy touring schedule with their first UK tour, which included a number of sold-out shows in London.

2015 saw the band touring extensively across Europe with appearances at Eindhoven Psych Lab and Duna Jam. That year also saw the band start Guruguru Brain Records, a label that showcases East Asia’s music scene. Since then the band released 2017’s Stone Garden EP and 2018’s Masana Temples while managing a busy touring schedule. (Last year, I saw the Kikagaku Moyo play a headlining show at Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s Warsaw with rising Japanese krautrockers Minami Deutsch.)

Levitation Festival’s record label, The Reverberation Appreciation Society will be launching a brand new live album series, Live at LEVITATION. Recorded throughout the festival’s history, the new live album series captures key moments in psych rock and for live music in its hometown of Austin, TX — and features key artists of the psych rock scene.

The live series’ first album features Kikagaku Moyo. Kikagaku Moyo — Live at LEVITATION showcases two different Levitation Festival sets: a 2014 Levitation Festival set, which was one of the band’s first Stateside shows on the A-Side — and their return to Levitation in 2019, during the middle of a sold-out Stateside tour. “Playing Austin Psych Fest / Levitation was always a goal from our earliest days of the band — to join the psychedelic community for a weekend of music and present our live performance,” the members of Kikagaku Moyo explain. “This show in 2014 was a landmark for us. To return years later in 2019 and find the same welcome, the dream was still very much alive and well.”

The live album’s first single “Smoke and Mirrors” was recorded from the Tokyo-based psych rock act’s 2014 Levitation debut. Centered around an expansive, mind-bending, shape shifting arrangement featuring shimmering and droning sitar, a sinuous and supple bass line, dreamy vocals and some expressive guitar work, “Smoke and Mirrors” sounds as though it could have been released in 1968 or so — but with a loose and furious live performance.

Kikagaku Moyo — Live at LEVITATION is slated for a January 15, 2020 release.

New Video: Soccer Mommy Releases a Creepy and Dread-Fueled VIsual for “crawling in my skin”

Sophie Allison is a Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and creative mastermind behind the critically applauded indie rock project Soccer Mommy. Allison first picked up guitar when she was six — and as a teenager, she attended Nashville School of the Arts, where she studied guitar and played in the school’s swing band. In 2015, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began posting home-recorded sons as Soccer Mommy Bandcamp during the summer of 2015, just as she was about to head to New York University (my alma mater, no less!), where she studied music business at the University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

While she was in college, Allison played her first Soccer Mommy show at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Silent Barn. She caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed her to a record deal — and after spending two years at NYU, she returned to Nashville to pursue a full-time career in music. Upon her return to Nashville, the acclaimed Swiss-born artist wrote and released two Soccer Mommy albums — 2016’s For Young Hearts released through Orchid Tapes and 2017’s Collection released through Fat Possum. Allison’s proper, full-length debut 2018’s Clean was released to widespread critical acclaim, and as a result of a rapidly growing profile, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based artist has toured with Stephen Malkmus, Mitski, Kacey Musgraves, Jay Som, Slowdive, Frankie Cosmos, Liz Phair, Phoebe Bridgers, Paramore, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend, and Wilco.

Before the pandemic, Allison was gearing up for this year to be a massive year: she started off 2020 by playing at one of Bernie Sanders’ presidential rallies and joined a lengthy and eclectic list of artists, who endorsed his presidential campaign. Her highly-anticipated sophomore album color theory was released to critical praise earlier this year — and like countless artists across the globe, she was about to embark on a headlining tour with a number of dates sold-out months in advance that included a Glastonbury Festival set. And she was supposed to be make her late-night, national TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

With touring at an indefinite halt, Allison, like countless other artists recognized that this period offered a unique opportunity to get creative and experiment with new ideas and new ways to connect with fans. Combining her love of video games and performing, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based artist had a digital show on Club Penguin Rewritten with over 10,000 attendees, who all had to make their own penguin avatars to attend. The show was so popular, that the platform’s servers crashed, forcing a rescheduling of the event. Of course, Allison has also played a number of live-streamed sets, including ones hosted by NPR’s Tiny Desk At Home (which she kicked off) and Pitchfork‘s IG Live Series. She also released her own Zoom background images for her fans to proudly show off their Soccer Mommy fandom.

Earlier this year, Aliison and her backing band embarked on a Bella Clark-directed 8 bit, virtual music video tour that had the act playing some of the cities she had been scheduled to play if the pandemic didn’t happen — Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Toronto, and Austin. And instead of having the virtual shows at at a common tourist spot or a traditional music venue, the members of the band were mischievously placed in rather unusual locations: an abandoned Toronto subway station, a haunted Chicago hotel, a bat-filled Austin bridge. Of course, the video tour featured color theory single “crawling in my skin,” a song centered around looping and shimming guitars, a sinuous bass line, shuffling drumming, subtly shifting tempos and an infectious hook.

Allison recently released an Adam Kolodny-directed, fittingly Halloween-themed visual for “crawling in my skin” that’s full of creeping and slow-burning dread that reminds me of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe movies with Vincent Price. “I’m excited to put out this video for crawling in my skin right at the end of spooky season. I hope everyone enjoys this video and their Halloween! 🎃“ Allison says.

New Video: Heartless Bastards Release a Surreal and Urgent Visual for Politically-Charged and Uplifting “Revolution”

Deriving their name from a hilariously incorrect answer on a multiple-choice trivia game (the question was: “What is the name of Tom Petty’s backing band), the acclaimed indie rock act Heartless Bastards was founded in Cincinnati by Dayton, OH-born singer/songwriter and guitarist Erika Wennerstrom back in 2003 in Cincinnati. Starting out as a solo recording project,. Heartless Bastards evolved into a live band with a revolving cast of musicians that regularly played throughout the Midwest.

The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney caught the band and was so impressed by what he had heard, that he passed along a copy of their demo to their label at the time — Fat Possum Records, who signed the band and released their first three albums: 2005’s Stairs and Elevators, 2006’s All This Time and 2009’s The Mountain. In between the writing and recording of All This Time and The Mountain, Wennerstrom relocated to Austin, TX. Around the time that Wennenrstrom relocated to Austin, the band’s touring lineup featured David Colvin (drums) and Jesse Ebaugh (bass), who both played on the Heartless Bastard demos recorded six years prior. The band expanded into a quartet with the 2009 addition of Mark Nathan (guitar).

The band signed to Partisan Records, who released the band’s last two critically applauded albums — 2012’s Arrow and 2015’s Restless Ones. And after 15 years of fronting the band, Wennnerstrom released her solo debut, 2018’s Sweet Unknown. “It was a deeply personal album and it just felt fitting to use my name,” Wennerstrom says of her solo debut. “It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed, and stand on my own two feet. I feel like I’ve grown so much creatively and personally through this process.”

Recently, the band returned to the studio to work on their long-awaited Kevin Ratterman-produced fifth album. The album reportedly will find the band continuing the late night, bluesy rock vibes that have won them praise and attention. The band’s latest single “Revolution” is their first bit of original material as a band in five years. The track was initially released on Bandcamp with proceeds donated to the ALCU — with the track no being available on all DSPs.

“Revolution” begins with a slow-burning and atmospheric ballad introduction that slowly builds up in intensity before turning into an anthemic, bluesy rocker around the three minute mark. Centered around Wennerstorm’s bluesy wail and some dexterous guitar work, including a blazing solo, the track is an incisive and urgent message that says we need to get our shit straight and make the world a better place before it’s too late. “’Revolution’ is about self love,” Wennerstrom explains in press notes. “I think if people loved themselves more there wouldn’t be racism, bigotry, and classism. Some people are so worried that there is not enough pie to go around, and that lifting up others limits their own opportunity. There is mass misinformation and manipulation to peddle this narrative. Money, materialism, privileged access to better education are things people constantly measure themselves with. The need to feel better than someone in order to feel good about oneself is an age old insecurity. The planet really can’t sustain everyone having more. Everything is made to fall apart, like cars and $1100 cell phones. I think humanity needs to learn how to have less, and not play into the commercialism that constantly sends the message we lack things that we don’t really need.

“Revolution is a mantra, and reminder to myself to avoid playing the game as much as I can. I don’t need this, and I don’t need that. I don’t need to compare myself to others. This marathon everybody is running is exhausting. There is so much true suffering in this world with a lack of food, shelter, and basic running water. The more man attempts to look at the world from another man’s perspective it becomes apparent how connected we all really are. I think giving and receiving love is really what we need the most. All the rest is just a bunch of noise.”

Directed by Sam Wainwright Douglas and David Hartstein, the recently released, incredibly surreal video features an elegantly dressed Wennerstrom sitting crossed legged in the salt flats of Utah watching advertisements and imagery that people to be blindly greedy, selfish consumers and brutally racist.But during the song’s anthemic second half, we see nature overcoming all, and eventually Wennerstrom coolly floating through space.

“I wanted to release ‘Revolution’ before the election, to serve as a reminder of what’s important in life: love and compassion for yourself and your fellow man,” Wennerstrom says of the video’s release. “We have to fight fear with love. I think there’s a lot of bullshit out there that is peddled to sway people one way or the other. I feel people know what’s right in their hearts. It’s a call to not look the other way.

“For the video, I had an idea of having a surreal living room image in the salt flats,” Wennerstrom adds. “It’s a statement on how our excess commercial culture and system create a competitive climb to the top. We all struggle to get ahead so we don’t get left far behind. Very little life can live in the salt flats and I thought it helped symbolize the direction of environment if we don’t come together and wake up. I couldn’t get to the salt flats and the idea of a green screen came to mind. Sam Douglas and David Hartstein took this idea to a whole other level. The green screen went from what was initially just being unable to get to the salt flats to far beyond what I’d imagined. It really captured the song so much more.

There is so much beauty in this world, and in each other. Sometimes it is underneath the surface, but it’s always there. Let’s lift each other up.”

New Audio: The Black Angels’ Alex Maas Releases a Contemplative and Dreamy Single off His Forthcoming Solo Debut

Best known as the frontman and founding member of the acclaimed Austin, TX-based psych rock act and JOVM mainstays The Black Angels — and a member of acclaimed psych rock supergroup MIEN, Alex Maas will be stepping out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of his full-length debut Luca.

Named for Maas’ firstborn child, Luca, which means “bringer of light,” the Mass and Brett Orrison co-produced album, which is slated for a December 4, 2020 release through Innovative Leisure was a long time coming — with some of its material dating back almost a decade and put together piece-by-piece over the course of a couple of years. Centered around a much gentler, contemplative take on psychedelia, Luca is a decided sonic departure from Maas’ best known work, showcasing what Maas says “a whole different part of gym brain.”

“I wanted to go someplace musically that I’ve never gone before,” Maas continues. Thematically, the album is driven by the nature and quiet of Maas’ home state and by his meditations about his son, his future, the often frightening world he was born in and how to navigate through the perils and frustrations of modern society. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Been Struggling” is a dreamy and shuffling waltz, centered around strummed guitar, shimmering pedal steel and Maas’ imitable falsetto that sonically nods at the melancholy psychedelia of Scott Walker and the classic Nashville sound. Instead of the menace, madness and darkness of his best known work, “Been Struggling” is a pensive meditation on memory, fate and loss from the perspective of a narrator, who has lived a messy and drama fueled life.