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.