Tag: Warsaw

Live Footage: The Black Angels Perform “Young Men Dead” at LEVITATION Festival

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. Austin Psych Fest 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, which included a stop at Warsaw that year with Japanese krautrockers Minami Deutsch.

Live at LEVITATION‘s second album The Black Angels — Live at LEVITATION features the festival’s founders The Black Angels. The Black Angels live album is comprised of material recorded at Austin Psych Fest 2010, 2011 and 2012, and captures a rare glimpse of the festival’s earlier, more humble days. And of course, for Black Angels fans, like myself, the album features live version of six songs from their first two albums — Passover and Directions to See a Ghost. “Since the beginning The Black Angels were meant to be heard live,” the band’s Christian Bland explains in press notes. “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 was a hypnotic and equally menacing version of Passover single “Manipulation” that featured a mesmerizing guest spot from Elephant Stone‘s bassist, sitarist and frontman Rishi Dihr. And building up more buzz for the album’s release day — which is tomorrow — the band released the live album’s second and latest single, a muscular and menacing version of Passover single “Young Men Dead.” The accompanying live footage captures the band and their live sound with an uncanny fidelity.

This weekend is a big weekend for the band: As I mentioned their live album, Black Angels — Live at LEVITATION is slated for a digital and vinyl release tomorrow. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year, you’d recall that The Black Angels and MIEN frontman Alex Mass released his solo debut, a meditative and gentler take on the psych rock sound he’s developed throughout his nearly two decade career, inspired by the birth of his son Luca.

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.

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: Salt Lake City’s Choir Boy Releases a Mischievous 80s Influenced Visual for Shimmering Pop Confection “Complainer”

Fronted by its Cleveland-born, Salt Lake City-based founder, frontman and creative mastermind, singer/songwriter Adam Klopp, the rising indie pop act Choir Boy derives its name from an insult that was given to Klopp in his early teens when he fronted some of his earliest bands. Given Klopp’s religious upbringing and angelic voice, the insult at the time, may have been both fair and fitting. 

After graduating high school, Klopp left Ohio for college in Utah. Although, his college career was short-lived, he left religion behind and quickly integrated into Provo’s and Salt Lake City’s underground music and art scenes, eventually starting Choir Boy. With the release of the project’s full-length debut, 2016’s Passive With Desire, Klopp’s work drew comparisons to Scott Walker, Kate Bush and Talk Talk.

Klopp’s Choir Boy debut won the attention of Dais Records, and building upon a growing profile, he released “Sunday Light” in 2018, which was followed by a reissue of Passive With Desire on vinyl and CD. Recently, Klopp has filled out the band with a permanent lineup: Chaz Costello (bass, sax), Jeff Kleinman (keys) and Michael Paulson (guitar). Each member has brought their unique influences to the table, helping to develop subtly more dynamic sound for the band — one in which, there’s a bit of post-punk grit and 80s-influenced swing to the mix. 

Slated for a May 8, 2020 release, Choir Boy’s sophomore album Gathering Swans is the first bit of recorded output with the band’s new lineup. And importantly, while seemingly drawing from Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry, The Cleaners from Venusand others, the material features Klopp’s achingly earnest and angelic falsetto, expressing those emotions that are particularly difficult to name. 

The album’s first single is the dance floor friendly  “Complainer.”  Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, some industrial-like drum machine and organic drumming, a looping and shimmering guitar line, an ehe enormous and rousingly anthemic hook and Klopp’s achingly tender falsetto, the song — to my ears, at least — seems like a synthesis between Meat Is Murder-era The Smiths, Tears for Fears and contemporaries like Washed Out. Interestingly, Klopp explains that the song “marked a shift in lyrical tone from previous releases. While many of our earlier songs serve as flowery lamentations of loss and grief, ‘Complainer’ snakily examines the self absorption of sadness. The opening line Oh my life was something I privately uttered while stewing over daily anxieties. It became comical to me that I would express my self pity like that, in earnest when my struggles seemed so relatively tame.  The song continues, It’s a phrase so funny when it’s spoken so sincere. But it’s not that bad, I’ve never really had it worse. I’m just a complainer. ‘Complainer’ multi-tasks as a pop song and a reminder to keep my privilege in check.”

Directed by the members of Choir Boy, edited by Choir Boy’s Adam Klopp and featuring an action cameo by Sam Rodriguez, the recently released video for “Complainer” is a decidedly lo-fi, fittingly 80s-inspired visual split between footage of the band playing the song in random locations while mischievously revealing the band’s involvement in a seedy, back alley, Fight Club-like fighting ring. 

New Audio: Rising British Pop Artist Jordan Mackampa Releases a Soulful and Radio Friendly Single

Mackampa’s work is inspired by his Congolese roots and his mother’s love of legendary soul singers like Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield. And much like his influences, Mackampa has a developed a reputation for pairing an old school singer/songwriter soul-like vocal delivery with earnest songwriting and catchy melodies with a modern approach. Building upon that momentum, Mackampa’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Foreigner is slated for a March 13, 2020 release. Along with that the rising Congolese-British artist is currently on a North American tour opening for Amber Run that includes a stop tomorrow at Warsaw — and he has been confirmed to play at next year’s SXSW.

Jordan Mackampa is a rising London-born and-based Congolese-British singer/songwriter. With the release of “Under” earlier this year and 2016’s Physics EP, and 2017’s Tales From The Broken EP and Live from the Grand Cru EP, Mackampa has received critical praise from NME, The 405, The Line of Best Fit, Clash, Indie Shuffle, Wonderland and others — with all of his previously released material amassing over 50 million Spotify streams.

Mackampa’s latest single, “Parachutes” is a breezy yet deliberately crafted track centered around a radio friendly and loose arrangement of twinkling keys, shimmering guitars, a sinuous bass line and propulsive drumming. But the star of the show is Mackampa’s easygoing and expressive vocals — in this case, Mackampa’s voice evokes the soaring high of being in love and the embittering low of heartache and betrayal within the turn of a phrase.

“‘Parachutes’ encapsulates those situations with people you’ve come across in life; who aren’t who they pretend to be and the person they are with you, isn’t someone you want to be around,” Mackampa explains in press notes. “However because you love them, either platonically or romantically, you’re conflicted by your feelings for them until it gets to a point where you don’t want to be hurt anymore… Nobody is perfect, but if you were trapped in an airplane with them and they had a parachute but you didn’t you would jump out regardless, because any pain you would experience afterwards, won’t be as bad as what you’ve already gone through.”

New Video: Acclaimed Indie Rock Act Vivian Girls Reunite for a Kaleidoscopic and Trippy Visual for “Something To Do”

Formed back in 2007 by founding members Katy Goodman (bass, drums, vocals),  Cassie Ramone (vocals, guitar) and Frankie Rose (drums, bass, vocals), the acclaimed indie rock act Vivian Girls, derive their name from the title of outside author Henry Darger’s The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. And although they went through a series of drummers in their run together, they developed a reputation for being a band for outsiders, for playing warehouses, house parties, DIY spots and small clubs. Sonically, they bounced back and forth between heart-on-their sleeves romantics and feedback-driven sheogazers. 

After their third album, 2011’s Share the Joy, the band split up and went their own ways. Katy Goodman and the band’s third drummer Ali Koehler relocated to Los Angeles, where they continued with different musical pursuits — Goodman with her acclaimed act La Sera and Ali Koehler with Best Coast and Upset while starting families. Ramone continued to make art, released two solo albums and two albums with Kevin Morby in their band The Babies. Interestingly, Ramone relocated to Los Angeles after a phone call with Goodman sparked the possibility of a reunion. 

Last spring, the trio began jamming together, keeping their practices a secret  while enjoying the simple act of playing together again. By the fall, the trio had written an album’s worth of material and entered the studio to record their Rob Barbarto-produced fourth album Memory, the first batch of original material from the band in over eight years. 

Slated for a September 20, 2019 release through Polyvinyl Records, Memory’s title may conjure the concept of its band members waxing nostalgic over halcyon days — but actually, the material may be the darkest of their catalog. Fueled by their own experiences as individuals and as a band, the album thematically touches upon their personal reflections on toxic relationships, the false promise of new love, mental health struggles and finding ways to accept oneself amidst it all. Sonically, the album reportedly evokes desperation and longing while having a newfound sense of intensity and direction. 

Interestingly, Memory’s second and latest single “Something To Do” is a shoegazey-like song centered around layers of buzzing guitars, a propulsive groove and ethereal vocals bubbling up from the murky mix — and while sonically nodding a a bit at their past, the song is a bold push forward, imbued with a dark, murky quality of a dysfunctional and fucked up relationship. 

Directed by Jason Lester, the recently released feverish video for “Something to Do” was shot on what appears to be 8mm film in the Los Angeles area and features the band members running toward themselves playing in an abandoned structure — presumably, the band running to a new future together. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Prettiest Eyes Pay Homage to John Carpenter in Visual for “Mr. President”

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the Los Angeles-based synth punk act Prettiest Eyes, and as you may recall the act which is comprised of San Juan, Puerto Rico-born, Los Angeles, CA-based founding members Pachy Garcia (drums, vocals), and Marcos Rodriguez (bass, vocals) along with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico-born, Los Angeles, CA-based Paco Casanova (keys, synths vocals) can trace their origins back to San Juan, where the band’s founding members played in a number of local bands before relocating to Los Angeles to seriously pursue music. Casanova independently relocated to Los Angeles and joined the band to complete its lineup. And with the release of a couple of EPs and their first two albums,  2015’s Looks and last year’s Pools, the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays firmly established a reputation for crafting sleazy and primal synth punk that throbs with a muscular insistence.  

The band’s third full-length album, the aptly titled Vol. 3 was released earlier this year through Castle Face Records, and album single “Nekrodisco” was a off-center, post apocalyptic ripper, seemingly inspired by Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO!-era DEVO. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Mr. President” is a minimalist track centered around howled mantra-like lyrics, industrial clang and clatter and a relentless motorik groove that seethes with uncertainty and menace. 

Directed and edited by Andrew Frescas, the recently released video further emphasizes the song’s murkiness and menace — and interestingly enough, finds the video’s director and the band collaborating to pay homage to John Carpenter’s They Live!

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Oh Sees Release a Trippy and Nightmarishly Animated Visual for “Poisoned Stones”

Over the past nine years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstays Oh Sees. And as you may recall, the act, which is led by its ridiculously prolific founder and creative mastermind John Dwyer has a cultivated a long-held reputation for wide-ranging and restless experimentation that has seen the band dabble between a variety of genres and styles including lysergic-tinged folk, furious and sweaty garage punk rippers, sci-fi driven krautrock and more — with each successive album being wildly different from its predecessor. 

Face Stabber, a 2LP album is slated for an August 16, 2019 release through their longtime label home Castle Face Records, and the album’s first single “Henchrock” was a free-flowing, skronky The Yes Album-era Yes meets Return to Forever-like expansive bit of prog rock. The album’s latest single “Poisoned Stones” continues on a similar vein — skronky prog rock but this time delivered with a muscular and forceful insistence, as the track is centered around enormous power chords and thunderous drumming. 

The recently released video for “Poisoned Stones” features 8 bit video game graphic animation by Eaten Alive Illustrations that’s a surrealistic nightmare as it follows our motorcycle riding protagonist being chased through the desert — until the bat-like creature chasing him captures him and drops him off into the lair of a cloaked magician. After killing the magician, the protagonist escapes, feeds something to a wolf, who has a mind-bending trip and allows our protagonist to ride him until they arrive at a castle that will be destroyed by an even weirder, alien-like dragon. 

Throughout the course of this site’s nine-year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink on the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstays Oh Sees (a.k.a. Thee Oh Sees, OCS, The Oh Sees, The Orange County Sound, Orinoka Crash Suite and other variations). And as you may recall, the act which is led by its ridiculously prolific creative mastermind John Dwyer has a long-held reputation for wide-ranging and restless experimentation that has seen the band dabble and bounce between a variety of genres and styles including lysergic-tinged folk, furious and sweaty garage punk rippers, sci-fi driven krautrock and more. Of course, with each successive album generally being wildly different from its predecessors, it makes the band incredibly difficult to pigeonhole.

Last year’s Smote Reverser found the band meshing classic psych rock and prog rock in a way that brought JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard to mind, but with a muscular and menacing air.

Oh Sees’ latest album, the 2LP Face Stabber is slated for an August 16, 2019 release through their longtime label home Castle Face Records. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Henchrock” is a free-flowing skronky The Yes Album-era Yes meets Return to Forever-like bit of prog rock that clocks in at a little over 21 minutes and possesses a lysergic, retro-futuristic air.

The members of Oh Sees will be embarking on a lengthy tour throughout the summer and fall months that includes a three night, October run at Warsaw — October 18, 2019 – October 20, 2019. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

July
11-13 Carnation WA Timber! Festival

August
 9 Pioneertown, CA Pappy and Harriet’s

23 Charleville Cabaret Vert festival

24 Guéret Check-in Festival

27 Ravenna Hana-Bi (Free)

29 Vienna Arena

30 Munich Strom

31 Berlin Kreuzberg Festsaal

September
Brussels Les Botaniquesen

Bordeaux BT 59

Toulouse Le Bikini

Paris Le Bataclan

London Troxy

Amsterdam Paradiso

30 San Francisco, CA The Chapel

October
San Francisco, CA The Chapel

San Francisco, CA The Chapel

4 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom

7 Vancouver, BC Rickshaw Theatre

10 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue Ballroom

11 Chicago, IL Thalia Hall

12 Chicago, IL Thalia Hall

14 Toronto, ON Danforth Music Hall

15 Montreal, QC Le National

16 Cambridge, MA The Sinclair

18 Brooklyn, NY Warsaw

19 Brooklyn, NY Warsaw

20 Brooklyn, NY Warsaw

22 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer

23 Carrboro, NC Cat’s Cradle

24 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge

25 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks

26 Austin TX Hotel Vegas

27 Austin, TX Hotel Vegas

29 Albuquerque, NM Sister Bar

31 Los Angeles, CA Teragram Ballroom