Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

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Tele Novella is a project out of Lockhart, Texas–a small town lost in time–where their classic and sincere pop song writing is slowly processed through a loner medieval-tonk machine and then captured on cassette 8-track. Their forthcoming record, Merlynn Belle, was the music they wanted to be making all along but didn’t know until it happened accidentally.

Sometimes the best things happen by accident and for Natalie Ribbons and Jason Chronis of Tele Novella, that is exactly the case with their latest single, “Paper Crown.” Ribbons  recalls how she wrote part of this upbeat song to keep herself occupied while at work. “I wrote the very first verse of this song about nine years ago when I was a cook at a Thai restaurant,” Ribbons shares. “I used to make up little ditties to sing while I would chop up lime leaves and chilies, and this just happened to be one that stayed in my head all these years.”

Although this verse was written with the assumption that it would only remain a verse, with their sophomore album, Merlynn Belle, out now, it became much more.

“When I considered this little song fragment, I was immediately very inspired and wrote the rest of the song in one sitting,” says Ribbons. With its enchanting lyrics, “Paper Crown” is the perfect tune to make you feel inspired, and make you want to live every day to the fullest. It’s the type of melody to stick with you, even when you’re chopping lime leaves and chilies.

“This song embodies a feeling that sometimes spontaneously overcomes me, where I am just heart bursting-ly, madly in love with life and with the moment,” adds Ribbons. “Times like these, I just want to do anything within the realm of my abilities to leave a mark on this world and play a part in decorating time as it passes.

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It comes out February 2021.

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The Reverberation Appreciation Society is proud to launch a brand new live series, Live at Leviation. Recorded over the history of the world renowned event, professionally mixed and mastered, this series captures key moments in modern rock and roll history, and live music in Austin, Texas. The artists and sets showcased here are the apex of modern psychedelia, performing for a crowd of their peers and fans who gather at Levitation annually from all over the world.

The first LP in this series features Japanese psych heavyweights Kikagaku Moyo. This particular record is as strong as it is meaningful in the band’s story. It showcases one of the bands very first US show in 2014 on the A-side and their triumphant return in 2019 on the B- side with them firing on all cylinders amid a sold out US tour.

Kikagaku Moyo have come a long way –both literally and metaphorically– since their humble beginnings busking on the streets of Tokyo back in 2012. A tight-knit group of five friends who bonded over the desire to play freely, and explore music associated with space and psychedelica, their initial ambitions were modest semi-regular slots in the cramped clubs of the city’s insular music scene. Yet the band’s progressive, folk-influenced take on psychedelica marked them out from their peers and re-started Japan’s psych rock scene, and soon brought them international acclaim. Fast forward a few years, and you find the band crushing headline sets at festivals, embarking on sprawling international tours, and a dedicated fanbase for their music and record label Guruguru Brain – all while steadfastly maintaining their creative freedom and DIY allure.

Kikagaku Moyo are the real deal: masterful musicians, a powerful creative force, and one of key bands in the psychedelic rock movement and we are thrilled to have them kick off the “Live at Levitation” series with this incredible record.

Janis Joplin’s final studio album, “Pearl”, will be the subject of a variety of 50th Anniversary releases, overseen by the Joplin Estate and Columbia/Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music.  The album, her final studio LP, was originally issued on January 11th, 1971, via Columbia Records it was released three months after Joplin‘s passing on October 4th, 1970, and eight days before what would have been her 28th birthday on January 19th.

JanisJoplin.com will be releasing an exclusive capsule collection which includes a fine art collaboration with the estate of Barry Feinstein, the acclaimed celebrity photographer who lensed the iconic Pearl album cover; further details will be announced soon. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is also curating a special exhibit devoted to Joplin, “Pearl” and more, scheduled to open May 21st, 2021.

Genesis Publications has announced the upcoming publication of a new limited edition book, Janis Joplin: Days &Summers – Scrapbook 1966-68. During her career, Joplin created a personal record of her meteoric rise to fame and the flowering of Sixties counterculture, including posters, souvenirs, press clippings, photographs and records, and annotated them with her comments. Featured alongside are previously unpublished items from her personal archive, including letters she wrote home to her family and a preceding scrapbook from her senior high school years, 1956-59. The book’s in-depth text provides a new account of the singer’s extraordinary life. It’s available to order at Joplin’s above website.

From the January. 8th announcement: The only album Joplin ever recorded with the Full Tilt Boogie Band, the touring ensemble that had backed her on the Festival Express (a mythic 1970 concert tour by railroad across Canada with the Grateful Dead, the Band and others), “Pearl” included canonical studio recordings of songs she’d introduced to audiences on tour.

Peaking at #1, a position it held for nine weeks, Pearl showcased some of Janis’s most familiar and best-loved performances including her cover of Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” and the off-the-cuff a cappella “Mercedes Benz,” the last song she ever recorded.

Pearl has been certified 4 times Platinum by the RIAA with Janis Joplin’s overall album catalogue–including greatest hits compilations–accounting for 17 Platinum and 3 Gold certifications (approximately 18.5 million records) in the United States. Janis Joplin’s Greatest Hits was RIAA certified 9x Platinum on November 22, 2019 while “Piece of My Heart” (her breakout single from Big Brother & The Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills, one of 1968’s top-selling albums) More than 31 million Joplin albums have been sold worldwide.

Scheduled release for April 2021, Vinyl Me, Please, the “best damn record club out there,” in association with Columbia/Legacy, will release a collectible 50th anniversary limited edition of Pearl pressed on white “Pearl” colour 180g vinyl. 

In July 2021, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, in association with Columbia/Legacy, will also release a limited edition 50th Anniversary Edition of Pearl as an UltraDisc One-Step 180g 45RPM 2-LP box set. Mastered from the Original Master Tapes with Mobile Fidelity’s One-Step process.

Janis Joplin: Days & Summers

Janis Joplin: Days & Summers Scrapbook 1966-68

‘I’m sure you’ve heard that I’m a new breed swinger now, the idol of my generation, a rock’n’roll singer. Yes fans, yes, it’s true.’ – Janis Joplin

As the first-ever female rock star who dazzled listeners with her powerful voice and fierce uninhibited style, few musicians have attained the same iconic status as Janis Joplin. Now, Janis’s personal scrapbook is revealed for the first time, compiled between 1966-1968, as the singer found her star rising.

‘We’ve had Janis’s scrapbook for a long time. It was really important to her. Scrapbooks may sound quaint and old-fashioned today, but by sitting down, cutting these things out, sticking them in place and annotating them, Janis has given us a unique record of the period.’ – Michael Joplin

In her handmade scrapbook Janis Joplin created a personal record of her meteoric rise to fame and the flowering of Sixties counterculture in which she was to play a lead role. From the singer’s earliest intimate blues gigs in local coffee houses, to her first appearances with Big Brother and the Holding Company, to the band’s breakthrough performance at Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, Janis’s story is remarkable. Throughout it all, she collected posters, souvenirs, press clippings, photographs and records, and annotated them with her comments.

More than 50 years later, Janis’s scrapbook is revealed for the first time. Featured alongside are previously unpublished items from her personal archive, including letters she wrote home to her family and a preceding scrapbook from her senior high school years, 1956-59. Collectively, they offer a brand new perspective on the Port Arthur girl that transformed into a rock goddess, setting the world on fire with her talent.

‘Her voice was so powerful it would cut through a rock… Right away we knew she was the one. We said to her, ‘We’re working next weekend, hope you’re ready.’ – Peter Albin, Big Brother and the Holding Company

Written by the people who really knew Janis and those inspired by her, the book’s in-depth text provides a fascinating, new account of the singer’s extraordinary life. With an introduction by Grace Slick and an afterword by Kris Kristofferson, the book’s list of nearly 40 contributors includes Big Brother bandmates Peter Albin and Dave Getz, Jefferson Airplane members Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen, musicians Mick Fleetwood, Chrissie Hynde, Tom Jones, Taj Mahal, Michelle Philips and Jimmy Page, talk show host Dick Cavett, as well as siblings Laura and Michael Joplin.

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Other figures interviewed exclusively for the project include Woodstock Festival organiser Michael Lang, American artist Stanley Mouse, writers Ben Fong-Torres, Richard Goldstein and David Dalton, plus legendary rock photographers Henry Diltz, Bob Gruen and Elliott Landy.

‘An amazingly talented human tornado who just whirled her way into our consciousness. We try to describe her but, like being in love, it’s difficult telling someone else how stunning the impact is. You know when you feel it, and Janis was probably the best at translating those all-consuming emotions.’ – Grace Slick

Janis Joplin was an American singer, songwriter and arranger, from Port Arthur, Texas, who moved to San Francisco in 1966 to join local band Big Brother and the Holding Company and pursue her dream of becoming a musician. She died aged 27 on October 4th, 1970. She is one of the most influential icons from the Sixties and considered one of the best female blues singers ever. ‘There was just nothing else like her – total rebelliousness, abandon, musical excellence, and connection with everyone in the audience. Pure magic. Everybody just loved her. She gave us a voice that was anti-establishment, and I’ve lived by it ever since.’ – Chrissie Hynde

THE SIGNATORIES

Each book in the Days & Summers edition is estate-stamped with Janis Joplin’s signature, and hand-signed by the following contributors:

Laura Joplin: Janis Joplin’s sister
Michael Joplin: Janis Joplin’s brother
Peter Albin: American musician, guitarist and bassist. Founding member of Big Brother and the Holding Company
Dave Getz: American musician, teacher and visual artist. Drummer in Big Brother and the Holding Company
Jorma Kaukonen: American blues, folk, and rock guitarist. Founding member of Jefferson Airplane

THE COLLECTOR COPIES

Collector copies are numbered from 351 to 2,000, authenticated with the Janis Joplin estate stamp, and hand-signed by the contributors.

Limited to only 2,000 copies worldwide, each book in the Days & Summers edition is hand-numbered, estate-stamped with Janis Joplin’s signature, and hand-signed by her Big Brother bandmates Peter Albin and Dave Getz, Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen, and Janis’s siblings, Laura Joplin and Michael Joplin.

The large-format book (325mm x 305mm / 12¾” x 12″) is printed on heavyweight 200gsm paper with gilt and deckled page edging. Collector copies are quarter-bound in a navy, vegan leather, and light blue binding cloth blocked with gold, pink and blue foiling. Days & Summers is the name Janis Joplin gave to the scrapbook she kept during her high school years, and the book’s cover design is similarly inspired by Janis, featuring her own hand-drawn lettering and decorative linework.

All copies in the limited edition include a special 7″ single containing two exceptionally rare recordings: two blues tracks from The Typewriter Tape recorded in 1964 by Janis Joplin and Jorma Kaukonen (‘Daddy Daddy Daddy’ by Janis Joplin, and the blues standard ‘Trouble In Mind’). Capturing Joplin at a pivotal moment, before joining Big Brother & the Holding Company, The Typewriter Tape has attained mythic status among bootleg recordings. Given the historic nature of the two tracks, the single is pressed on 180-gram audiophile vinyl.

The Collector signed book and vinyl record set is presented in a navy, cloth-bound slipcase.

  • Extras:
    7″ vinyl with two blues tracks from The Typewriter Tape recorded in 1964 in Santa Clara, California by Janis Joplin and Jorma Kaukonen: ‘Daddy Daddy Daddy’ by Janis Joplin and ‘Trouble In Mind’. Foreword by Grace Slick and Afterword by Kris Kristofferson with a stamp of his signature.

The follow-up to her 2018 sophomore release First Flower, the breathy, romantic “Only One” serves as the A-side to Molly Burch’s new 7” Ballads, out now on Captured Tracks. “I decided to call the 7” Ballads as an homage to the powerful female vocalists I idolized growing up,” Burch said. “Seems sort of classic. Both songs really embody what I love to do—sing with emotion, and drama, and romance, taking as much time as I need. Following the release of her critically acclaimed sophomore album, ‘First Flower’, last October, Texan chanteuse Molly Burch returns with two heart-stopping tracks. Entitled ‘Ballads’ in homage to the strong and powerful female vocalists that she admires, this 7” EP embodies what Burch loves to do and what she does best: crafting music with emotion, drama and romance, giving her voice all the room it needs to burn bright.

“Only One” is off of Molly Burch’s 7″ Vinyl, ‘Ballads’. released August 2nd, 2019

Molly Burch’s previous records had a distinctly twangy vibe to them that had her compared to Patsy Cline and other ’60s country singers. But starting with last year’s cover of Ariana Grande’s “Needy,” she’s been heading in poppier directions. New single “Emotion,” which she co-wrote and recorded with Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum, takes her into disco territory with popping bass and sultry vocals. “For me, the theme of the song is about feeling a spectrum of emotions, embracing that sensitivity, and using it as fuel to create something positive,” says Molly. “‘Emotion’ is a celebration of being alive.”

Austin singer and songwriter Molly Burch returns this new year with a fresh sound on “Emotion’’, a disco-tinged, dynamic shot of adrenaline produced by Captured Tracks label-mate Wild Nothing (Jack Tatum).

In January 2020, Burch headed to Tatum’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia, looking to write new material with a distinct pop sound and production in mind. Sharing some of her latest demos and a playlist of her favourite pop bangers with Tatum, they set out to make a heart-pumping dance track of their own. On “Emotion”, Burch’s voice is as strong and masterful as ever, pairing a lighter, polished vocal performance – a surprising, but captivating departure from her signature smoky delivery – with Tatum’s compelling bass lines, beats, and shimmering synths. Burch says, “for me, the theme of the song is about feeling a spectrum of emotions, embracing that sensitivity, and using it as fuel to create something positive. “Emotion” is a celebration of being alive.”
 
Released January 1st, 2021

Molly Burch “Emotion” feat. Wild Nothing · available on Captured Tracks Released on: 2021-01-01

“Somewhere in far West Texas – ”a place where the dead outnumber the living” – the band Ak’chamel The Giver Of Illness are fourth world post-colonial cultural cannibalists circumcising the foreskin of enlightenment. Throughout years they have designed a unique sound evoking a sort of haunting, deep psychedelic folk music. This is a fascinating journey through funeral folk, mystic, psychedelic rock, and so on, and so forth.”

First vinyl release of Ak’chamel after a prolific cassette discography, “The Totemist” marks a new direction for the mysterious group. Equipped with studio quality recordings and a (somewhat) lighter tone, opposed to the oppressively lo-fi sound the group is known for. Performing in homemade costumes and masks, they have played festivals in various cities around the U.S gaining international attention from Vice, The Wire, Tiny Mix Tapes, Consequence of Sound, and many more. They have amassed over 10 cassette albums and 1 VHS full length film.

This is a deep psychedelic-folk album with hints of mysticism, some of which was written and recorded in a ghost-town in the Chihuahuan Desert in far West Texas – a place where the dead outnumber the living. Various overdubs and field recordings were captured in the historic Terlingua cemetery : an ancient burial ground filled with small grottoes and graves made of sticks and stones. This being the final resting place for miners who succumbed from illnesses derived from the toxic rare-earth element known as mercury.

Ak’chamel, The Giver of Illness are fourth world post-colonial cultural cannibalists circumcising the foreskin of enlightenment. Performing in homemade costumes and masks, they have played festivals in various cities around the U.S gaining international attention from Vice, The Wire, Tiny Mix Tapes, Consequence of Sound, and many more. Enter the fourth world now !.

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Released February 2nd, 2020

All tracks composed, performed, recorded and produced by Ak’chamel, The Giver of Illness.

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bonnie whitmore music magazine

Best described as a roots or Americana artist, Austin, Texas’ Bonnie Whitmore is a veteran musician who has trod the boards throughout North America as an in-demand session and stage bassist for more than two decades. But she has also developed a unique musical compositional style all her own – one that combines many elements of the music she loves, regardless of genre, and a lyrical directness and powerful honestly that makes for a truly compelling listening experience.

Whitmore released her latest album, “Last Will & Testament” in October, through her own label, and Whitmore herself co-produced the 10-song release alongside Scott Davis, working out of the Ramble Creek Recording Studio. Although the word eclectic can sometimes be over-used or mis-used, it is rather appropriate for Last Will & Testament, as Whitmore is unafraid to mix and meld styles and genres to suit the emotional and lyrical tapestry she weaves with each individual song.

“To me as an artist, it’s about the creation of whatever it’s going to be, and not to make it form into something that’s supposed to be more marketable, which I know goes against everything you’re supposed to be doing in music if music is your livelihood,” she said, from her home in Austin, where she is doing her best to stay busy writing new material and promoting the album during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“I think I have a very eclectic taste, so I am not surprised that my music is eclectic within itself. I do like to take things that are sort of polar opposites of each other and mix them together. As a bass player, my influences are [legendary session player] Carol Kaye and Kim Deal of the Pixies – very different bass players, but both are integral parts of where I come at it musically. Americana is just sort of the all-encompassing, ‘everybody’s welcome,’ kind of genre, because they accept everybody into it.”

With the release of Bonnie Whitmore’s latest record, the celebrated Texas-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist borrows just enough stylistic “ingredients” from just enough musical “neighbours,” she succeeds in baking one of the tastiest confections of 2020 — a soaring seduction that owns roadhouse authenticity and drips cathouse allure. Among the record’s many highlights, “Time to Shoot” shines brightly. 

Written by Bonnie Whitmore From the album “Last Will & Testament” (2020) CD Baby (on behalf of Aviatrix Records)

An old photograph of a Clash concert

It all began with Marty Robbins, whose cowboy ballads entranced and inspired Clash co-founder and vocalist Joe Strummer from across the Atlantic for years. When Amarillo-native Joe Ely toured London in ’78, Strummer went backstage to introduce himself and the band. They were huge Ely fans, and while he had never heard of them, they bonded over shared interests in rockabilly, movies, and poetry. They spent the next few days showing Ely around London, even taking him to their studio.

“It was like the West Texas hell raisers meet the London hell raisers,” Ely said. In Ely, the Clash finally had a direct connection to the world they’d only heard on records and seen on television.

“To them,” Ely said, “Texas was a mythical place that they only knew about in old Marty Robbins gunfighter ballads and Westerns and stuff.”

When Strummer brought up an upcoming American tour, the only places he wanted to play were those he’d heard about in songs—El Paso, Laredo, Wichita Falls. Ely returned home to Lubbock, and soon enough, the Clash called to book several Texas dates with Joe Ely Band as opening act. They played their first Texas show at the Armadillo World Headquarters, the 1970s venue that propelled Austin’s music scene to national attention and forever shaped the city’s image.

A ticket stub for The Clash at the Austin Coliseum

The night was October 4th, 1979, and Michael Corcoran’s in-depth article, “25 Most Significant Nights in Austin Music History,” features it at number twelve. Corcoran quotes the oft-cited description of the performance as “Ely and his band pouring gasoline all over the stage and then the Clash coming out and lighting a match.”  The all-night jam session that followed, with Ely and the Clash joining local punk band the Skunks on stage at the Continental Club, turned an unforgettable night into one of true, incendiary fame.

When the Clash returned in June of 1982 to film “Rock the Casbah,” the Armadillo had been closed a year and a half. Perhaps in homage to the venue that hosted that first Texas performance, the video features a recurring armadillo running through various shots. Maybe it was just a funny thing to include, but a photo from that show did end up on the back of the London Calling album, suggesting the ‘Dillo’s significance to the band.  The song was released as the second single from their fifth album, Combat Rock. “Rock the Casbah” was musically written by the band’s drummer Topper Headon, based on a piano part that he had been toying with. Finding himself in the studio without his three bandmates, Headon progressively taped the drum, piano and bass parts, recording the bulk of the song’s musical instrumentation himself. This origin makes “Rock the Casbah” different from the majority of Clash songs, which tended to originate with music written by the Strummer–Jones song writing partnership. Upon entering the studio to hear Headon’s recording, the other Clash members were impressed with his creation, stating that they felt the musical track was essentially complete, relatively minor overdubs were added, such as guitars and percussion

Joe Strummer was not impressed by the page of suggested lyrics that Headon gave him. According to Clash guitar technician Digby Cleaver, they were “a soppy set of lyrics about how much he missed his girlfriend”. Strummer just took one look at these words and said, ‘How incredibly interesting!’, screwed the piece of paper into a ball and chucked it backwards over his head. Strummer had been developing a set of lyrical ideas that he was looking to match with an appropriate tune. Before hearing Headon’s music, Strummer had already come up with the phrases “rock the casbah” and “you’ll have to let that raga drop” as lyrical ideas that he was considering for future songs. After hearing Headon’s music, Strummer went into the studio’s toilets and wrote lyrics to match the song’s melody.  This phrase had originated during a jam session with Strummer’s violinist friend Tymon Dogg. Dogg began playing Eastern scales with his violin and Strummer started shouting “rock the casbah!” 

Further inspiration for the lyrics of “Rock the Casbah” originated from Strummer observing the band’s manager Bernie Rhodes moaning about The Clash’s increasing tendency to perform lengthy songs. Rhodes asked the band facetiously “does everything have to be as long as this rāga?” (referring to the Indian musical style known for its length and complexity).

Strummer later returned to his room at the Iroquois Hotel in New York City and wrote the opening lines to the song: “The King told the boogie-men ‘you have to let that rāga drop.’ The song gives a fabulist account of a ban on Western rock music by an Arab king. The lyrics describe the king’s efforts to stop his population from listening to this music, such as ordering his military’s jet fighters to bomb any people in violation of the ban. The pilots ignore the orders, and instead play rock music on their cockpit radios. The population then proceed to “rock the casbah” by dancing to the music. This scenario was inspired by the ban on Western music in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution

To watch the video now is to see glimpses of the Austin that long time natives speak of wistfully, reverently. As much as I wanted to believe in Austin Motel’s place in punk rock history after learning about the Clash’s Texas connection, I am sorry to report that the shots of a motel swimming pool were not taken at the Austin Motel.  After a deep dive into obscure internet wormholes about the video, my best guess for the pool featured at 2:05 and 2:08 is the Sheraton Hotel near Interstate 35 and 11th Street. According to Songfacts.com, the actor who played the Rabbi, Dennis Razze, said auditions were held at the Sheraton, and pictures of that hotel pool do look like those in the video.

At fifty-four seconds, the two main characters, The Sheik and The Rabbi, drive in to Austin with the Capitol Building in the background. That skyline sure looks different, though, doesn’t it? Other noteworthy shots of 1982 Austin are fun to spot, and often difficult to discern. The Winchell’s Donuts is now a Subway. A close examination of this location, and a trove of trivia about the video, can be found in Adam Norwood’s delightfully obsessive blog.

The Burger King 27th and Guadalupe didn’t change too much—it’s now a Whataburger. Texans love Whataburger, if you don’t know, so this is one change that old-timers probably aren’t mad at.  The Alamo Hotel at the corner of 6th and Guadalupe appears to now be the Extended Stay America. Fun fact: scenes from the music video for Willie Nelson’s “Pancho and Lefty” were filmed at the hotel’s bar. It was knocked down in 1984. The planes are flying into Bergstrom Air Force Base, which is now Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

The City Coliseum, which is now the Palmer Events center, was originally an aircraft hangar. Footage from inside The Coliseum was, according to Razze, “absolutely crazy, because they just worked us into the audience in front of the stage and shot us and the band in real time during the concert.”

The legend of the Clash lounging poolside at our motel may be debunked, but if you want to walk the same path as the armadillo featured in the video, it’s tough to find a better starting point. Plus, the former site of the Armadillo is only a ten-minute walk away, and located next door is Threadgill’s World Headquarters, a restaurant dedicated to honouring the renowned venue. Memorabilia covers the walls, and the juke box features one hundred albums by artists who played the ‘Dillo. In the spirit of two worlds colliding—Texas’ Joe Ely and London’s definitive punks—you can chow down on chicken fried steak while listening to that “crazy Casbah sound.”

Just be sure to wait thirty minutes before jumping back in the pool to avoid any cramping.

The music video for “Rock the Casbah” was filmed in Austin, Texas by director Don Letts on 8th and 9th June 1982.

The music of Alex Maas has always mesmerised. Now, on his soul-baring solo debut “Luca”, the Texan and The Black Angel’s singer journey is taking an equally hypnotic detour along the wild trails of his indigenous homestead. Driven by the force of nature, each phase of life is celebrated through songs of love, hope, human connection whilst navigating perils of modern society and tentatively facing the darkness. As the shamanic vocalist and bass player of The Black Angels, Alex Maas knows neo-psych-rock well; yet its menace is barely noticeable across his masterfully crafted soul-baring debut solo album. Named for Maas’ firstborn, whose name means “bringer of light,” Luca was a long time coming, with some of its songs dating back almost a decade, put together piece-by-piece over the course of a couple years. The record began its transformation from loner folk leanings to a worldlier embrace of gentle psychedelia.

It’s a record fuelled by memories of an upbringing in the strange, unique paradise of his father’s plant nursery in Seabrook, Texas by the waterfront of the Gulf of Mexico, and the Native American sounds that would drift through the garden’s hidden speakers, ricocheting off multi-coloured pottery mazes of curiosities from across the world.

Casting shades of deeply personal wide-eyed innocence and the darker realms of paranoia, Luca has its sights set on the near and distant future. Subtle psychedelic flourishes and instrumentation come from a cast of expert players in Austin but this is a deeply personal endeavour.

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 It’s been a while since the Black Angels released an album and I’m happy to hear Alex’ Voice again, Driven by the force of nature, The Black Angels singer’s solo journey takes an hypnotic detour along the wild trails of his indigenous homestead with songs of love, hope, human connection whilst navigating perils of modern society and tentatively facing the darkness.

released December 4th, 2020

Sibling duo the Oh Hellos have been musical collaborators for years, but Maggie and Tyler Heath have never undertaken anything quite like their latest project — four EPs framed around a question. The Austin-based artists were more interested in following whatever threads of inquiry their curiosity might reveal. By the time they were done, they’d undertaken a deep-dive examination of faith, one they expected would pan out as a “deconstruction slash reconstruction,” according to Maggie. Instead, they experienced an implosion or sorts.

Their first release, in late 2017, was Notos, named for the god of summer’s south winds — and dangerous storms. Euros, named for the god of east winds and autumn, followed in early 2018. Neither, obviously, was released to coincide with its actual season — a pattern that continued with Boreas, named for the north winds that bring winter’s freeze, and Zephyrus, who brings spring’s gentle west winds. Boreas ; Zephyrus’ release day is today (October. 16th).

They’d actually intended to release Boreas last winter. “Go figure you wouldn’t be able to exactly map out what you’re going to believe after several years of questioning your faith and your upbringing and your head, you know?” Maggie notes. “So just to make sure we were leaving plenty of room for us to be honest with ourselves, and honest with the project, took longer than we expected.”

And then the pandemic arrived. Eventually, they decided to stop waiting and unleash the winds of winter and spring. Each segment is filled with multi-layered orchestral arrangements, richly textured harmonies and lyrical complexity. Their distinctive style brings to mind progressive folk-rock predecessors Renaissance, Fairport Convention, the Strawbs, It’s a Beautiful Day and Steeleye Span.

Tyler admits he knows none of those bands. The Heaths list Fleet Foxes, Sufjan Stevens as influences. “We are very bad at nailing down exactly where we sit on the genre spectrum,” Tyler confesses, adding, “We have appreciated when people describe us as folk punk.”

These carefully constructed works, in which each note seems lovingly placed, then given enough space to define its own contours. The juxtapositions are so seamless, it takes a minute to realize the lovely 46-second interlude of “Holding on Where I am Able” is a separate work and not just an introduction to “Theseus.” The Heaths are pretty sure their Celtic lean comes from Irish lineage on their mother’s side. Being the daughter of a band director, she set them on their musical path early. Their father, who’d played music in school, also encouraged them.

Born four years apart (Tyler came first), they grew up in Angleton, Texas, near Houston. Maggie sang in church and school choirs. Tyler didn’t, but became fascinated with harmony because his mother would always harmonize on church hymns instead of singing the melody. It stuck with him. He started writing songs as a young teen. “At some point, I realized I was enjoying singing and song-writing enough that I sought out some voice lessons, just to make sure that I wasn’t gonna build any bad habits that would damage my voice,” he says.

Maggie received some classical vocal training while attending Texas State University in San Marcos. Tyler studied music composition at the University of Texas at Austin, then moved to San Marcos, where he and Maggie started collaborating about nine years ago. Now living in North Austin, they intentionally moved within walking distance of one another. They do most of their recording at Tyler’s home studio.

Though they share credit as producers on their albums, Maggie tends to do the writing and Tyler the arranging. When they perform live they bring a big bunch of players — including some who came up in punk and hardcore scenes.

They’re not out to re-create every sound on their albums, however. “We reinvent it live,” Tyler says. “There’s a lot of adaptation and translation. And then there’s a lot of additional arranging, where we look for the parts that we feel are the most important to get across live. “We have to condense down the music so that it still feels the same, or brings you the same emotions, without being able to literally have 10 guitar parts all happening at once to create these big, expansive textures,” he adds. “Pretty early on, we realized we’re not gonna hit this note for note, but that’s probably OK. How can we just lean into that? As much energy and intensity as we squeeze into the records, I feel like the live show is just cranking up that dial even further. Just trying to have as much fun as possible. And also get the aggression out a little bit.

The series concludes. Zephyrus, the final cardinal wind of this project, brought the gentle warmth of spring that summoned up a new year of growth rooted in the fertile ashes of all the structures that keep us isolated and unfeeling — the kind of growth we can see in ourselves, if we can muster the courage to be vulnerable. The arrangements mirror and embrace this shift, rising up like tender leaves breaking through concrete and cascading down like mountain rivers surging with the first thaw of the season. It’s been a long year; thanks for listening.

released October 16th, 2020

Produced by Maggie Heath, Tyler Heath
Written by Maggie Heath, Tyler Heath

Performed by The Oh Hellos.