Austin Psych Fest has a new name for its annual flagship musical gathering in Austin this year: Levitation. And let me tell you, I’ve been to the last three phenomenal outings, and this one in May is looking like their biggest doozy yet, especially with the recent announcement of the 50-year reunion of pysch forefathers, the 13th Floor Elevators.
APF has always done a fantastic job at curating a mind-blowing mix of psychedelic newcomers, tried-and-trues, and classic psych acts, and this year is no different—maybe other than the fact that APF has decided to drop the “psych” tag and simply call the fest Levitation, perhaps a way to shake the shackles of feeling confined to present everyone’s definition of “psychedelic.”
Over the last few years, as psychedelic music has become more popular via the successes of such acts as Tame Impala, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, and The Black Angels, many music fans who have much more rigid ideas of what’s classified as “psychedelic” have been at odds with trying to pinpoint “true” psychedelic acts and write-off others who fall outside of their definition.
But APF has always remained aloof to those types and go out of their way to present the best and most diverse festival experience for the open-minded music fan. I think no matter where you stand, whether you’re more of a shoegazer, a pop-psycher, garage-rocker, or a far-out experimental music fan, you are gonna get what you need at APF’s Levitation. And you’ll certainly get turned on to something new.
Brooklyn based recording artist Xander Duell will be performing music from his highly anticipated second solo record, Wade Laiste, which will be released by the Swedish artist collective known as Ingrid (helmed by Lykke Li, Miike Snow, and other luminaries) internationally in March 2015. The record’s first single, “Earth on its Axis,” is available on iTunes. Xander’s wild previous effort, Experimental Tape No.2 Vol.1, was released by Mexican Summer in 2011.
The experimental nature of Duell’s music rears its head in style and content atop songwriting that touches the emotional core without hesitation or regret. There is joy and sadness here, electronics and guitars, grandeur alongside the neon-lit sleaze. Calibrate your expectations appropriately on this one, but be prepared to have them shattered by this outsider work, in the spirit of Scott Walker’s numbered albums and the prime cut of ’70s soft rock.
Carrie Ashley Hill hails from Texas and also calls Brooklyn home but wrote her first song from a much different place, literally stranded in Trinidad, Colorado. “Hill’s love-weary voice recalls breathy country legends like Emmylou Harris and the resolve of Stevie Nicks,” noted the Village Voice.
We’ve got a super-cool vinyl giveaway for you today from a fantastic new Brooklyn band called Invisible Familiars. The band may be new but the man behind the band is anything but new to the music world. Talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jared Samuel has made his living playing music and supporting a variety of NYC artists—from Sharon Jones to Martha Wainwright, and most recently, Cibo Matto, and The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger.
Samuel retreated to the seclusion of a houseboat docked in Jamaica Bay to write the music and words that would become Disturbing Wildlife. “It was the first time I’d ever spent more than one day completely by myself,” said Samuel, “wondering just exactly what is real and then, ultimately, feeling fine.”
Invisible Familiars premiered this debut album, Disturbing Wildlife, via BrookynVegan prior to its release on Tuesday, January 27 and you can stream it all here. And you can order a copy via Other Music Recording here.
Ty Segall and record label Famous Class have just released a double 7-inch vinyl single, which just so happens to double as a pair of 3D glasses! With the new “Mr. Face” EP, pressed on translucent red and blue-colored vinyl, you just look through the records to activate the supercharged 3D artwork.
The first pressing is already sold out but you can order a copy from the second pressing right here. And you can stream the four tunes on Famous Class’ Bandcamp site and find that the music is the usual killerness we’ve all come to expect from Ty.
When I was a fresh young thing at art school, we would lay around on the floor and listen to Flossie and the Unicorns, whale sounds, and watch early internet animation like Miss Muffy and the Muff Mob. I was obviously high and the inter-web was just getting going as I learned to write HTML code, so one can imagine my jaw on the floor when Miss Pussycat rolls the puppet show out and I hear her voice. FLOSSIE?!?!
Yes, friends, I found out Saturday night Miss Pussycat is Flossie and the Unicorns, and I saw her puppet show LIVE for the first time—16 years later. It was a bake-off (thus sparking my memories of Miss Muffy) and the burnt hair covered demon cake won! The crowd cheered as the stuffed long red tongue licked the little cake from the giant face sewn into the backdrop. It is all just too delightfully psychedelic to even attempt to describe, so I won’t try. I’ll just say it was perfection, and I adore you Miss Pussycat.
Typically with Baby’s, I am merely passing by on my way home to have a quick drink with a friendly bartender, and I’m drawn into some amazing unexpected show; this was no exception and might take the cake, pardon the pun.
After the little demon cake and teddy bear who baked him exited the stage, it was time for Quintron and Miss Pussycat—a solid hour and a half, maybe longer, of dance mania and one man creating a cacophony of sound. He eventually is shirtless, sweating profusely never stopping for a second, playing everything at full throttle: keys, triggers, drum loops, guitar sounds, bass lines from an organ with the microphone crammed in his mouth, wind blowing from somewhere, fist pumping, crowd surfing, dance jams.
For those of us who are retrospectively inclined music-wise, last Friday night at the Beacon Theatre was a dream come true. Ray LaMontagne put on a show akin to those we might imagine were performed back in 1971 when guitars reigned supreme, or perhaps back in 1968 when light shows were still a thing.
The collective emotions produced by those onstage and off vacillated between groove-yourself-into-feeling-good and self-reflect-yourself-into-feeling-reverent. Whatever end of the spiritual spectrum one found oneself on at any given moment during the concert, it was the hip place to be.
LaMontagne and his backup band, which included the excellent brother-sister duo The Belle Brigade (who also provided a stellar opening act of their own tunes), offered up selections from this year’s far-out(!) album Supernova; “Lavender,” “She’s the One,” “Airwaves,” and the show-stealer “Supernova” (the song) were of note. Ray’s greatest hits canon made up a large part of the show’s set list as well; “New York City’s Killing Me,” “Trouble,” “Repo Man,” and “Jolene” gradually generated eureka moments.
The best bit of the concert may just have been the acoustic set halfway through, when LaMontagne and his musical director, slash one of the wow-est bass players around, Zachariah Hickman, went to town on the best of Ray’s ballads. Stripped down and bare, the songs’ power was more immediate, and LaMontagne’s understanding of and allegiance to the history and evolution of the rock-pop-folk (ropolk?) singer-songwriter was undeniable.
Meet Residual Kid from Austin, 14 and 16-year-old brothers Max and Ben Redman holding down the rhythm section, and 16-year-old front man Deven Ivy.
We were walking the dog Saturday morning past Baby’s All Right and Alex popped in to check the vibe for the big Brooklyn Vegan CMJ day party and on stage there were 3 kids jamming.
At first glance he thought they must be the children of one of the sponsors having fun, and we were told a great band was playing at noon, so we took the dog home and came back.
To our pleasant surprise, these kids were the band, a perfect 3 piece, power-pop, grunge garage band. A good, old-fashioned shred-fest performed with the ease and grace of the most seasoned of road dogs complete with a collection of solid songs, especially the last one, ripe with breakdowns and vocal hooks. We have no idea how the 3 got so good so young, but we are psyched for what’s to come for them.
In 1993, the world of heavy metal was in flux. Grunge had entered the scene and helped give birth to the “alternative metal” genre, one that tended to be an amalgamation of various metal styles. One of the commercially less successful but critically lauded bands, both by press and fans, was Brooklyn, New York’s Life of Agony.
Their debut album, River Runs Red, and its follow-up, 1995’s Ugly, contained some of the most raw, emotional, and harrowing lyrical content, coexisting with thick, heavy riffs that spanned styles from hardcore to slower sludge metal. After calling it quits in 1999, the band has reunited a couple of times and drifted back apart again. The time felt right once once more, and there was no venue more appropriate than the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey for the occasion.
We arrived at the venue, said a few hellos, and after a few conversations, acquired a perfect spot at stage right. The show, which had sold out very quickly, was packed tight with fans eager to witness the reunion. We arrived right after opener Diablo Blvd finished, but the feedback I heard from people during and after the show was very positive.
A Pale Horse Named Death was up next. Led by Sal Abruscato on vocals and guitar, he was pulling double duty for the night, as he’s also the drummer for Life of Agony. One interesting dynamic about APHND is that in the band are two former drummers of gothic metal legends Type O Negative—Sal, and Johnny Kelly who took over on the drums in Type O when Sal left to join Life of Agony in 1993. Looking on in the crowd during the set was Type O guitarist Kenny Hickey—tonight was a night of multiple reunions.
We happened to stop by Baby’s All Right Monday just to say hey to a friend who was tending the bar (we swear we go other places, but it is definitely becoming our favorite NYC venue right now). We knew a little something about Jozef van Wissem, mainly that he had scored the Jim Jarmusch film, Only Lovers Left Alive which we have both wanted to see but have not.
We had no designs on the evening, allowing us to relax into soundscape bliss. The main takeaway: Jozef van Wissem is INCREDIBLE. He masterfully plucked and picked this wild, double necked looking lute.
He played hypnotic rounds adding and subtracting notes gradually, shifting seamlessly in and out of various melodies and movements. It is reminiscent of the Indian system of playing music as broken down in Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, a must read for the psychedelically inclined.
Towards the end of his performance he walked out into the crowd and played for each person, wanting each of us to hear and experience the true tone of his instrument. Bowing toward each of us, he honored his lute and perhaps us for sharing this moment with him. It was an intimate moment we felt quite lucky to have witnessed.
PHOTOS: MAS HINO | We first heard of Steve Gunn when he opened for Kurt Vile at Bowery Ballroom, and we missed him. He could be seen playing on the side of the stage with Kurt Vile, but we really couldn’t hear him. We made the assumption that if you are playing guitar with Kurt Vile, then chances are you are probably pretty good at guitar.
Later that month we were record shopping at Academy Records, when it was on N 6th, and up on the wall with the staff picks was Time Off and it said, “Recommended if you like Gene Clark’s No Other.” And we do, very much so, and although it doesn’t have the volume of overdubs and sounds more like when Jimmy Page breaks out the acoustic, they were right on the money that us Gene fans would dig this record.
Sadly, his show last Friday at Baby’s All Right was the second time we have not been able to see Steve Gunn together. Last summer Alex was on tour when he played 285 Kent. It was right after an awesome Tiny Desk Concert performance and the release of Time Off, so we were certain it would be packed, sold-out even, but to my surprise there were 15 people in the room.
Gunn was absolutely amazing and everyone there was stunned in disbelief that so few people seemed aware of it. He was truly on another level that night, peaking in fact, and I’m so glad I was there. His show Friday was great as well, and he delivered all the goods—cyclical and melodic guitar riffs, mellow and sultry vocals, thoughtful somewhat vague lyrics that sink into my bones, songs that slowly build into epic jams that you find yourself lost in, and this time, a packed room. There was even a touch of myth in the murmurs, dudes attempting to explain Gunn’s past to their ladies.