Woods: “Sun City Creeps”

Song of the Day

Woods: “Sun City Creeps”

Posted by on Apr 29, 2016

All this week, the Song of the Day highlights Levitation Fest artists.

UPDATE: Levitation Fest has been cancelled due to weather concerns. Read more here.

The New York band Woods has crafted its own tightly-curated universe over the past decade. The Woods umbrella now shades everything from Woodsist Records to Woodsist Fest, in addition to nine albums and dozens of tours. Throughout, the group has remained remarkably DIY; Woods’ enterprise is a kindred spirit to the Black Angels’ own band/label/festival hybrid, though on a smaller scale.

But with each album, Woods seems to open up that tent just a bit more. They started out as a ramshackle folk band, and now their music can include everything from psychedelia to reggae without batting an eye. New album City Sun Eater In The River Of Light throws a curveball right out of the gate with “Sun City Creeps.” The song bends back towards Mulatu Astatke, whose experiments with Ethiopian melodies, jazz, and funk are singular, breathing creations. Woods don’t copy him so much as breathe him in. The exhale comes out twisting, caught between the psychedelic and the dancefloor.

Catch Woods on Saturday, April 30 in the Elevation Amphitheatre at 9 p.m. City Sun Eater In The River Of Light is out now via Woodsist.

–Art Levy

Imarhan: “Assossamagh”

Song of the Day

Imarhan: “Assossamagh”

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016

Photo by Jo Bongard

All this week, the Song of the Day highlights Levitation Fest artists.

Tuareg music has moved west over the past few years thanks to the trailblazing of acts like Tinariwen and Bombino. Imarhan follows in their footsteps–frontman Sadam is even related to one of the members of Tinariwen–but the band heads in a slightly different direction. Imarhan hails from Tamanrasset, a city in southern Algeria not far from the Tuareg community’s roots in Mali and the Sahara. Dislocation is the theme in Tuareg music, and Imarhan piles a lot of different sounds together.

But the band also sounds rooted and steady, more focused on the slow-burn than Bombino’s blasts. The groove on “Assossamagh” is a complex creation, shaded by reggae but constantly pulling you forward. That bluesy Tuareg guitar style churns through the song, gritty and determined but still dreaming.

Catch Imarhan on Friday, April 29 on the Levitation Stage at 3:05 p.m. Imarhan is out April 29 via City Slang.

–Art Levy

Shabazz Palaces: “Motion Sickness”

Song of the Day

Shabazz Palaces: “Motion Sickness”

Posted by on Apr 27, 2016

All this week, the Song of the Day highlights Levitation Fest artists.

Shabazz Palaces make cosmic music, simultaneously far-reaching and hyper-focused on the smallest details. Seemingly a lifetime ago, Ishmael Butler explored the edges of rap with Digable Planetsreuniting for a tour this summer–but with producer Tendai Maraire, the Seattle duo blows up those edges. “Focus” is the first word on Shabazz Palaces’ stunning 2014 album, Lese Majesty, and from there, the music unravels in a series of suites, each song an unlocked door.

But even if they give you doors, Palaces don’t give you answers. Late in the album, “Motion Sickness” spins in place, a gleaming glyph. There’s a hustle and hustler at the center, treading water before the water catches up. It does, and Butler and Maraire are there to ride the waves.

Catch Shabazz Palaces on Friday, April 29 in the Levitation Tent at 7:05 p.m.

–Art Levy

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: “Gamma Knife”

Song of the Day

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: “Gamma Knife”

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016

All this week, the Song of the Day highlights Levitation Fest artists.

“Gamma Knife” starts mid-drag race; it’s all you can do just to hold on tight. Of course, with a name like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, you always knew you’d be taken for a ride. At Psych Fest in 2014, the Australian group sounded like T. Rex-indebted hippies, but on Nonagon Infinity, they’re bringing out their reptilian side. The new album is described as a “never-ending album”: each song tumbles into the next one, and the last song loops back to the first. Looping back to “Gamma Knife,” it’s a variation on the same bare-knuckle riff that tears through the album. King Gizzard sounds like some unholy mixture of Motorhead and LSD, speeding down the highway with a head full of stars.

Catch King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard on Sunday, May 1 on the Reverberation Stage at 4:30 p.m. Nonagon Infinity is out April 29 via ATO Records.

–Art Levy

Courtney Barnett: “History Eraser” (Live In Studio 1A)

Song of the Day

Courtney Barnett: “History Eraser” (Live In Studio 1A)

Posted by on Apr 25, 2016

All this week, the Song of the Day highlights Levitation Fest artists.

If psychedelic music is all about exploring the inner mind, then Courtney Barnett might be the most psychedelic artist appearing at Levitation Fest this weekend. Her songs are as funny as they are poetic; in fact, her jokes are poetic, precisely because they hit at some larger truth about Living In The Contemporary World, even if the details are completely her own.

The Studio 1A version of “History Eraser” exists somewhere between reality and unreality, and Barnett is part tour guide, part accomplice. The song has a Dylan-goes-electric jolt to it, bumping over a few jangly chords as Barnett rattles off her thoughts like a machine gun. The most dangerous weapon is a cocktail, spilled throughout: love mixed with alcohol.

Catch Courtney Barnett on Saturday, April 30 on the Reverberation Stage at 6:05 p.m.

–Art Levy