Tag: The Black Angels

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.

Over the past handful of years, I’ve managed to write quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based garage rock trio and JOVM mainstays L.A. Witch — Sade Sanchez (lead vocals, guitar), Irita Pai (bass, backing vocals) and Ellie English (drums) — and as you may recall, with the release of their full-length debut, 2017’s self-titled effort, the band quickly established a jangling reverb-drenched guitar rock sound that drew from a number of sources, including late 50s-early 60s rock,  The Pleasure SeekersThe SonicsThe Black AngelsThe Brian Jonestown Massacre and others —but while bearing a resemblance to JOVM mainstay artists like  The CoathangersSharkmuffin and Death Valley Girls.

The members of L.A. Witch have readily admitted that the writing and recording sessions for their self-titled album was a casual affair — with the album’s material coming together over the course of several years. The natural and seemingly effortless creative flow hit a snag when the band’s profile and popularity grew and they began touring regularly. So when the trio got together to write and record their forthcoming sophomore album Play With Fire, they felt that they needed a new strategy.

Between their touring schedule, studio availability and the timeline for releasing an album this year, the members of the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays found themselves with only two months to do the bulk of the writing for Play With Fire‘s material. The trio holed up during January and February for the writing process — before March’s mandatory COVID-19 related shutdowns across the world. “As far the creative process goes, this record is a result of sheer willingness to write,” L.A. Witch’s Sade Sanchez says in press notes. “When you sit down and make things happen, they will happen, rather than waiting to be inspired.” The time constraints and tightly focused writing sessions forced the band into new territories. “I’ve definitely learned that having restrictions forces you to think outside the box,” the band’s Irita Pai says. “That structure really brings about creativity in an unexpected and abundant way.”

Play With Fire finds the band pushing their sound forward with a muscular insistence but while not being a complete reinvention of their sound. Thematically, the album may arguably be their most sobering, serious work of their catalog to date. “Play With Fire is a suggestion to make things happen,” L.A. Witch’s Sanchez explains. “Don’t fear mistakes or the future. Take a chance. Say and do what you really feel, even if nobody agrees with your ideas. These are feelings that have stopped me in the past. I want to inspire others to be freethinkers even if it causes a little burn.”

Last month, I wrote about “Gen-Z,” a scuzzy and expansive, beer and whiskey fueled rockabilly blues that seethes with the sort of dissatisfaction and frustration that feels like our contemporary zeitgeist. “True Believers,” Play With Fire‘s latest single is a deceptive return to form. Sounding as though it could have been a single off their full-length debut, the track possesses an urgent post funk feel that subtly nods at JOVM mainstay Ganser — while possessing a seething disgust over everything. It evokes the recognition that we live in a morally bankrupt world; a world and paradigm that needs to die.

“‘True Believers’ is about being overwhelmed with the constant stream of news and information we see everyday,” L.A. Witch’s Sanchez explains in press notes. “It’s about feeling anger and frustration with the state of the world. In a way, the track mocks the All Lives Matter culture that has come to fruition in the U.S.

“At times when you’re traveling around and meeting new people, you get into conversations about social matters and different political standpoints. A lot of people don’t believe they have any power over the matters concerning them, and that can be frustrating. It can be difficult for people to see themselves having an actual impact with what we’re all facing in the world today, all you can really do is take it day by day, lead by example, and know that any and all change starts with you. It’s important to always believe in who you are, even through all the chaos.”

 

I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based garage rock trio and JOVM mainstays L.A. Witch — Sade Sanchez (lead vocals, guitar), Irita Pai (bass, backing vocals) and Ellie English (drums) — and with the release of their full-length debut, 2017’s self-titled effort, the band quickly established a jangling reverb-drenched guitar rock sound that drew from a number of sources, including late 50s-early 60s rock,  The Pleasure SeekersThe SonicsThe Black AngelsThe Brian Jonestown Massacre and others —while bearing a resemblance to JOVM mainstay artists like  The CoathangersSharkmuffin and Death Valley Girls.

The members of L.A. Witch have readily admitted that the writing and recording sessions for their self-titled album was a casual affair — with the album’s material coming together over the course of several years. The natural and seemingly effortless creative flow hit a snag when the band’s profile and popularity grew and they began touring regularly. So when the trio got together to write and record their forthcoming sophomore album Play With Fire, they needed a new strategy.

Between their touring schedule, studio availability and the timeline for releasing an album this year, the members of the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays found themselves with only two months to do the bulk of the writing for Play With Fire‘s material. The trio holed up during January and February for the writing process — before March’s mandatory COVID-19 related shutdowns across the world. “As far the creative process goes, this record is a result of sheer willingness to write,” L.A. Witch’s Sade Sanchez says in press notes. “When you sit down and make things happen, they will happen, rather than waiting to be inspired. ”The time constraints and tightly focused writing sessions forced the band into new territories. “I’ve definitely learned that having restrictions forces you to think outside the box,” the band’s Irita Pai says,. ““That structure really brings about creativity in an unexpected and abundant way.”

Essentially Play With Fire finds the band pushing their sound forward with a muscular insistence — and while thematically, it may be some of their more sobering, serious work, the album isn’t a complete reinvention of their sound either. “Play With Fire is a suggestion to make things happen,” L.A. Witch’s Sanchez explains. “Don’t fear mistakes or the future. Take a chance. Say and do what you really feel, even if nobody agrees with your ideas. These are feelings that have stopped me in the past. I want to inspire others to be freethinkers even if it causes a little burn.”

Play With Fire‘s latest single “Gen-Z” is a scuzzy, expansive, beer and whiskey fueled bit of garage psych rock centered around reverb-drenched jangle, thunderous drumming, Sanchez’s sneering vocals and some enormous hooks. And while being one of the most ambitious songs the JOVM mainstays have crafted, it seethes

“Gen Z,” Play With Fire‘s latest single is a whiskey fueled rockabilly-like blues, centered around reverb-drenched jangle, thunderous drumming, enormous hooks and Sanchez’s smoky and snarling delivery — but unlike their previously released material “Gen-Z” finds the JOVM mainstays seething with dissatisfaction and frustration that just feels like it perfectly encapsulates our contemporary zeitgeist.

“‘GEN-Z’ is inspired by a series of articles mentioning the high rates of suicide amongst the Gen-Z due to the pressures of social media,” Sade Sanchez explains. “At the same time I read about several music companies not doing well due to lack of interest in people to learn to play instruments. When I was a kid, music and guitar was my escape. Music was how I fought through my depressions. What will the future do to get through it? With constant pressure to be perfect and information/advertisements and brainwashing constantly being shoved in your face, you become a product of your environment. ‘GEN-Z’ is about being a slave to technology, specifically to our phones.” 

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Mayflower Madame Release a Gorgeous and Trippy Visual for Menacing “Sacred Core”

Mayflower Madame — Trond Fagernes (vocals, guitar, bass), Havard Haga (guitar) and Ola J. Kyrkjeeide (drums) — is a rising Oslo Norway-based psych rock/post-punk act that can trace its origins back to 2011. The band’s hazy and smoky sound was conceived in and inspired by the band’s gritty surroundings: their first rehearsal space was a desolate, industrial building, which they shared with a local carwash company. After their formation, they quickly recorded a four-track demo. which led to the band being named “Unsigned Band of the Week” on one of Norway’s biggest radio stations. 

Shortly after their four-track demo, the band then spent the next few years touring and playing shows across Scandinavia, carefully honing their sound along the way. The band’s full-length debut, 2016’s eight track Observed in a Dream was brooding and icy psych rock with a dark romanticism. Based on the success of their full-length debut, the Oslo-based psych rock band toured across North America and Europe to support the album. The band followed Observed in a Dream with 2018’s Premonition EP,  four songs of apocalyptic love songs. 

Building upon a growing profile. Mayflower Madame supported Premonition EP with more touring, including the European festival circuit with stops in France, Germany, the UK and Eastern Europe. And as a result of the band’s touring schedule, they’ve shared stages with an impressive and growing list of artists including Killing Joke, Moon Duo, Night Beats, Psychic Ills, Froth, The Underground Youth, Crocodiles, Cosmonauts and La Femme. 

Released earlier this year through a collaboration between French label Only Lovers Records, Portland‘s Little Cloud Records and Parisian label Icy Cold Records, Prepared for a Nightmare, the Norwegian psych rock JOVM mainstays’ latest album finds them further developing their unique blend of psych-noir and post punk with elements of shoegaze and noise rock. So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles — the shoegazer yet menacing “Vultures” and “Swallow” — and while both tracks may bring The Black Angels, My Gold Mask, and Chain of Flowers to mind, they also evoke the dread and despair of our horrible sociopolitical moment. 

“Sacred Core,” Prepared for a Nightmare’s third and latest single continues a run of brooding and menacing psych rock, centered around swirling, shimmering and hypnotic guitars and a propulsive and muscular beat. Unlike its immediate predecessors, which were subtly shoegazer-leaning, “Sacred Core” is even more menacing, recalling The Black Angels’ Directions to See a Ghost while still being atmospheric. “‘Sacred Core’ is a song about getting lost, drifting away and trying to find the way back to your safe haven — guided by swirling, hypnotic guitars and an insistent heavy beat,” the band’s Trond Fagernes says in press notes. 

Continuing their ongoing collaboration with director Astrid Serck, the recently released video for “Sacred Core,” is centered around motion and stillness — and as a result, there’s gorgeous black and white footage of beaches and churches, movement in and around an old house, blinding sunbeams and footage of the band playing shows in Oslo and San Diego. “To me, the song is like an open landscape – it’s grounded, but at the same time moving. I wanted to capture that feeling visually with footage from windmill fields and beaches, where there’s constant movement — like a rhythm, as opposed to the solid ground. A contrast between motion and stillness. Something to hold on to as well as something loose and vibrating,” Astrid Serck says in press notes. 

“The core is what you hold on to. The motion is what you can let go. The sunbeams are blinding you, like a sacred light. The ceiling of a church is another symbol for sanctity. The moon is dancing, in disturbing ways, on the screen. In the video there is also an abandoned house, left with the door open. It´s a metaphor for the feeling of something that is lost, you can go back there, but only the memories are left. In addition there’s live footage of the band filmed from shows in Oslo and San Diego.”

With the release of their debut seven inch through Third Man Records, the Los Angeles-based indie supergroup Oozelles (pronounced oo-ZELZ) — Dante White Aliano (vocals, guitar), David Orlando (drums), Jada Wagensomer (bass), Samuel Banuelos (guitar, keys, percussion), Gregory Marino (sax, flute, electronic wind instrument) and Philip Minning — exploded into the local and national scenes, receiving attention for a sound that the band describes as “a stickier sub-tropical Birthday Party, Contortions or CAN ghost writing for The Gun Club or The Flesh Eaters.”

Thematically, the band which features former and current members of Warpaint, Starlite Desperation, Dante vs. Zombies, Sex Stains, Detroit Cobras and others, focuses on the dark and murky — and touches upon or makes references to human trafficking, secret doors at weddings, war criminals in mental hospitals, hippie arson, premature burial, vampire sugar parents, pathetic, blood soaked manifestos and pit-bulls attacking pizza deliver drivers.

Building upon a growing profile, the rising Los Angeles-based act’s Dante White Aliano-produced, self-titled debut is slated for a May 1, 2020 release through ORG Music. The album’s first single is the Phosphene Dream-era Black Angels-like “Refill The Swamp.” Centered around propulsive, tribal-like drumming, reverb-drenched guitars, shimmering organ arpeggios, Aliano’s expressive howls and an enormous hook, the song manages to be evoke a creeping and shadowy late night dread — but with the sort of campiness that reminds me of Roger Corman‘s adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe starring Vincent Price and Troma Films.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Video: Oslo-based Psych Rock Act Mayflower Madame Releases a Menacing Visual for Shimmering “Swallow”

Over the past couple of years of this site’s almost ten year history, I’ve managed to write a bit about the rising Oslo Norway-based psych rock/post-punk act Mayflower Madame — Trond Fagernes (vocals, guitar, bass), Havard Haga (guitar) and Ola J. Kyrkjeeide (drums). Formed back in 2011, the band’s hazy and smoky sound was conceived in and inspired by their gritty surroundings: they first rehearsed in a desolate, industrial building, where they shared space with a local carwash company. Shortly after their formation, they recorded a four-track demo, which lead to them being named “Unsigned Band of the Week” on one of Norway’s biggest radio stations.

The band then spent several years touring and playing shows across Scandinavia, carefully honing their sound along the way. The band’s full-length debut, 2016’s Observed in a Dream featured eight tracks of psych rock/shoegaze paired with dark romanticism in a way that was icy, brooding and hauntingly majestic. The Norwegian psych act toured across North America and Europe, followed by 2018’s Premonition EP — four songs of apocalyptic love songs.

Building upon a growing profile, Mayflower Madame supported Premonition EP with more touring and appearances across the European festival circuit with stops in France, Germany, the UK and Eastern Europe. So far, the band has shared stages with the likes of Killing Joke, Moon Duo, Night Beats, Psychic Ills, Froth, The Underground Youth, Crocodiles, Cosmonauts and La Femme. Most of this occurred between recording sessions for their forthcoming sophomore album.

Slated for a March 27, 2020 release through a collaboration between French label Only Lovers Records, Portland‘s Little Cloud Records and Parisian label Icy Cold Records, Prepared for a Nightmare reportedly finds the members of Mayflower Madame further developing their unique blend of psych-noir and post punk with elements of shoegaze and noise rock.  “Vultures,” the album’s menacing and propulsive first single manages to recall The Black Angels, My Gold Mask, and Chain of Flowers, as its centered around forceful drumming, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars and rousing hooks and an enormous sound. The album’s latest single “Swallow” continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor: shimmering reverb-drenched guitars, atmospheric synths, a gentle seemingly Texan twang, an enormous hook and a deeply menacing and uneasy vibe. And in some way, the song seems to evoke the feelings of dread and despair that many of us are starting to feel now. 

Continuing an ongoing collaboration with Astrid Serck, the recently released video features a stylistic and hypnotic array of trippy visuals that further emphasizes the song’s sense of menace and unease seen in blood red backgrounds.  

New Video: Montreal’s Les Deuxluxes Releases a Flamboyant and Psychedelic Visual for “Lighter Fluid”

With the release of their critically applauded mini-album, 2014’s Traitement Deuxluxe, the Montreal-based psych rock duo Les Deuxluxes, vocalist and guitarist Anna Frances Meyer and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Etienne Barry, quickly exploded across  Quebec’s music scene. Building upon a growing platform across the province, the Montreal-based duo released, their critically applauded full-length debut, 2016’s Springtime Devil. 

Since the release of Springtime Devil, the duo of Meyer and Barry have released a handful of attention grabbing singles, including the French translation of album title track “Springtime Devil,” “Diable du pringtemps.” Along with that, they’ve made appearances across the province’s major festival circuit, playing sets at Montreal Jazz Fest, Festival d’ete de Quebec, POP Montreal and M for Montreal — and they’ve opened for the likes of Lisa LeBlanc, Marjo, and Jon Spencer. They ended 2016 with a mini-tour of South America that included stops in Santiago, Chile; Valdivia, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Sao Paulo, Argentina. 

Written in the remote Quebec countryside, where the duo isolated themselves and recorded live to tape in a 19th century church, Meyer’s and Barry’s latest album, Lighter Fluid, the duo’s first album in over three years was released last Friday through Bonsound Records. Centered in old school rock ‘n’ roll riffage, the album’s 11 tracks draw from psych rock — while arguably be some of the most eccentric material they’ve written and released to date. Interestingly, the swaggering album title track “Lighter Fluid” is a perfect example of the album’s overall sound and aesthetic: power chord driven riffs, thunderous kick drum and enormous arena rock friendly hooks with boy-girl harmonizing paired with Meyer’s powerhouse vocals. The end result is a song that seems — to my ears, at least — indebted to classic AC/DC, JOVM mainstays White Mystery and The Black Angels. Simply put, this one fucking rips.

Directed by Ariel Poupart, the recently released video for “Lighter Fluid” is a mix of the fittingly flamboyant and psychedelic with the occult, as the band performs the song in front of a boiling cauldron and in front of some trippy and mind-bending backdrops. 

New Video: Rising Oslo-based Psych Act Mayflower Madame Releases a Menacing Visual for “Vultures”

Rising Oslo Norway-based psych rock/post-punk act Mayflower Madame — Trond Fagernes (vocals, guitar, bass), Havard Haga (guitar) and Ola J. Kyrkjeeide (drums) — formed back in 2011. The band’s hazy, smoke-laden sound was conceived in and inspired by their gritty surroundings: they first rehearsed in a desolate, industrial building, where they shared space with a local carwash company. Shortly after their formation, they recorded a four-track demo, which lead to them being named “Unsigned Band of the Week” on one of Norway’s biggest radio stations. 

The band then spent several years touring and playing shows across Scandinavia, carefully honing their sound along the way. The band’s full-length debut, 2016’s Observed in a Dream featured eight tracks of psych rock/shoegaze paired with dark romanticism in a way that was icy, brooding and hauntingly majestic. The Norwegian psych act toured across North America and Europe, followed by 2018’s Premonition EP — four songs of apocalyptic love songs. 

Building upon a growing profile, Mayflower Madame supported Premonition EP with more touring and appearances across the European festival circuit with stops in France, Germany, the UK and Eastern Europe. So far, the band has shared stages with the likes of Killing Joke, Moon Duo, Night Beats, Psychic Ills, Froth, The Underground Youth, Crocodiles, Cosmonauts and La Femme. Most of this occurred between recording sessions for their forthcoming sophomore album. 

Slated for a March 27, 2020 release through a collaboration between French label Only Lovers Records, Portland’s Little Cloud Records and Parisian label Icy Cold Records, Prepared for a Nightmare reportedly finds the members of Mayflower Madame further developing their unique blend of psych-noir and post punk with elements of shoegaze and noise rock.  “Vultures,” the album’s menacing and propulsive first single manages to recall The Black Angels, My Gold Mask, and Chain of Flowers, as its centered around forceful drumming, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars and rousing hooks and an enormous sound. 

Directed by Astrid Serck, the black and white video is a hypnotic visual featuring a combination of collage-based laminations and imagery, live footage of the band performing and a dance sequenced performed by Norwegian drag artist Remi Johansen Hovda. The video manages to capture the tense and uneasy vibes of the song — and at points it feels as though someone or something is lurking just over your shoulder. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Death Valley Girls Release a Creepy Halloween-Themed Visual for “Wear Black”

I’ve managed to write a bit about the Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock act Death Valley Girls over the past few years, and as you may recall the act which is currently comprised of founding duo Larry Schemel (guitar) and Bonnie Bloomgarden (vocals, guitar) and a rotating cast of collaborators that includes Alana Amram (bass), Laura Harris (drums), Shannon Lay, members of The Make Up, The Shivas and Moaning, as well as The Flytraps’ Laura Kelsey can trace their origins to when they were formed by Schemel, Bloomgarden, Rachel Orosco (bass) and Hole‘s Patty Schemel (drums). Despite the series of lineup changes throughout the band’s history, the JOVM mainstays’ sound and aesthetic has primarily been influenced by The Manson Family and B movie theatrics while thematically focusing on the occult.

Interestingly, last year’s Darkness Rains might arguably be the darkest and most menacing batch of material of their growing catalog. Sonically, the album found the band crafting  a feral mixture of proto punk, proto metal and stoner rock  with a healthy dosage of mysticism. “Wear Black,” the album’s latest single features a hallucinogenic and sweaty arrangement of thunderous and propulsive drumming, glistening organ arpeggios, fuzzy power chords, enormous hooks and soaring vocals. Much like the rest of the album’s material, the song manages to evoke occult-inspired sacrificial rituals while sonically recalling The Black Angels, Roky Erickson and others.

Just in time for the holiday season, the members of Death Valley Girls released a Brandon McKnight-made video for “Wear Black” that’s split between live footage of the band performing at Saint Vitus Bar — occasionally through kaleidoscopic filters,  edited stock footage, old horror movies featuring hellish and unnatural medical procedures and people behaving as though they were possessed, as well as footage of masked figures performing bizarre and occult-like rituals. It’s appropriately creepy — and absolutely perfect for today.