Posts Tagged ‘mexican summer’

Design Inspiration: Bailey Elder

Been a little while since I’ve had a Design Inspiration, but not for lack of trying. Designers prove to be just as busy as ever, but its worth the wait to see behind the veil of some of my favorites when they get a chance to lay down the influences on some of their best designs. Chances are if you’ve ordered a record off of Mexican Summer in the last few years you’re familiar with Bailey Elder. Her work graces the covers and layouts of a good swath of the label’s current output. Likewise if you frequent certain corners of music and wellness, upstate beers, and even national parks. Her work inhabits an earthen quality that fits forms that seem like they spring from nature itself. The lines aren’t bound by perfection, but somehow they seem preordained. Her work has graced works from Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood to Garcia Peoples. Yet as much as Bailey’s cover work is enviable, she’s a master of the inner cover and the back cover, letting the intricate details of the full package shine through instead of focusing just on the first impression image. She’s given us few covers that have inspired her over the years and a little insight into how they’ve affected her work. Check out Bailey’s picks below.

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PAINT

The solo works of Pedrum Siadatian don’t fall too awful far from his day gig playing with Allah-Las —swiping at a kind of lived-in ‘70s aesthetic and feeling like his albums might soundtrack a lost weekend stumbling through the sands of a no account beach town out of season. Yet there’s a warbled color to his approach. The Allah-Las feel like they have a handle on modern motions. There’s a reverence for the past, sure, but still a crisp cut to their sound. Siadatian’s work with PAINT by turns comes across like a box full of waterlogged Polaroids. The colors are smudged, but the memories are still visible through the haze. That he started the band as an outlet for 4-track experiments certainly adds to the loner, private press quality that hangs over his songs like a macrame owl. Though in deference to his first outing, Pedrum has let his sequel progress past the bedroom ambiance that hangs over his debut.

The record sways on its feet, but it never falters. Siadatian saves his wooziest songs for PAINT, mixing slouched stringwork with chunky keys and crisp bass. While the private press tag felt right on target for the debut, here there’s more of a patchwork mixtape feeling. Faded cotton pop songs populate the bulk, touching on the edges of surf, but just as often he’s swaying into Middle Eastern pop, tax shelter one-off wonkiness, and a touch of packaged library music within the loose ends of the album. While the debut hit me squarely in a soft-spot for rough-edges, the quick spit-polish here actually endears this one all the more. The debut was excellent but felt like it needed just one last push. That push is wholly in force on Spiritual Vegas and it’s keeping this locked on the speakers more and more often. Las fans should flock to this, naturally, but any takers from Ariel, to Drugdealer, to The Bees should feel right at home.


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PAINT – “Land Man”

Another sun-bleached single stumbles out from Paint and it warbles around the speakers like an LP that’s been slightly cooked by the sun. The hooks and charms aren’t deadened by the slight slip of the needles, though. The ode to life on dry land updates a version that Pedrum Siadatian, penned for the 10 year anniversary LP that MexSum put out a little while back and this version is fuller with a bit more curdle in its milk. Hooked on a spiraling guitar riff that curlicues through the speakers with an irradiated swagger, the song is pretty much all I’m looking for in a PAINT tune. The LP is headed to the turntable on July 10th and it should be crawling up that wantlist after this single takes a few spins through the speakers.

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Jess Williamson on Living Grateful – Peace Mob

Its always when coming to something late that the feeling of being left out seems to burn like a secret shame in the cheeks. As much music as passes through the pages here, I somehow missed Jess Williamson’s first LP for Mexican Summer until about a year after it was out, but once it graced the speakers I was drawn in tight. With a second LP for the label (fourth overall) on the horizon, I’ve keep a much more perked ear in the direction of Mexican Summer these days. Her latest album is everything that the last promised — lush, honest, swooning, and surreal. Its the album of a songwriter comfortable in her discomfort and able to translate it into the kind of Laurel Canyon-dappled folk that seems instantly timeless. There seemed no way that Jess doesn’t have quite a few gems tucked away in her collection that may have proven influential, but rather than dig deep into the past she lands a band that was almost gone before they began, highlighting that feeling of seeing something great as it’s just being formed. Check out her recollection and ode to the sole LP from Living Grateful below.

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Paint – “Ta Fardah”

Good to see the announcement that Pedrum Siadatian (Allah-Las) has a new solo LP on the way under his Paint moniker. He struck out solo under the name briefly in 2010, but really kicked it into motion with an eponymous 2018 LP that perfectly fitted the sandblasted psych that the Las trade upon into an Ayers, Barrett bag with a bit of Rundgren thrown in as well. The record was produced by fellow L.A. scene-haunter and studio wizard Frank Maston, who’s no stranger to crafting a very specific ‘60s sound. He crops up again to produce Paint’s sophomore LP and that sound is still threaded through the excellent first single “Ta Faradah,” a soft-psych spinner that nods to Siadatian’s Iranian upbringing with nods to Middle Eastern psych and funk winding its way out on Finders Keepers and Soundways these days. In addition to Maston behind the boards band also features members of White Fence and Sheer Agony, giving the record a nice sheen that spills way beyond just the sounds here. Its a bump up from the last one, and I loved that, so keep this on your radar for July.



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Matchess – “For Lise”

Last caught Matchess on Trouble in Mind a couple of years back and its great to see them pop up in the new Looking Glass series of digital singles from Mexican Summer. The singles are intended to fund charities that benefit musicians who might be affected by the pandemic and so far the series has been stacking up nicely with great names on the way. Conan Mockasin and Sessa have already contributed with promised cuts by Kikagaku Moyo, Ariel Pink and The Green Chile also in the works. On “For Lise” Matchess lingers in the ether, pairing rolling synths with a skeletal percussion and disembodied vocals. The song is mercurial and calm, a body in suspended animation bathed in lights and colors. There’s a feeling of water in and around the track, or maybe its just the suggestion of the gentle lap the shaker makes. Either way, this one is the comedown this week needs. Bonus, since today is a Bandcamp ‘no fees’ day the whole slice goes to the charity. Keep tabs on this series. They keep getting better.




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Dungen – Live

The live album occupies a lot of facets in a band’s catalog. If it rears its head, it can act as a placeholder, a preview of a new dawn and shift in direction, the requisite a cash grab or fundraiser, or a beacon of a band’s true place beyond the studio. For Dungen, in 2020, it seems to act as a beacon, but not of the band transforming their catalog by padding out or pushing the boundaries of their normal material, rather as a mercurial showcase for their musicianship beyond their established works. If Haxän proved anything, it’s that a band known for psychedelic prowess and studio savvy was also interested in expanding the horizons of genre by injecting an experimental spirit into their catalog that put aside notions of commercial draw . While this is not quite the seismic shift that led to a soundtrack for an obscure Russian silent film, it is imbued with the same experimental impulses. On Live they transform their acument into an album of whirlwind motion, psychic interplay, and virtuoso solos.

The record showcases the band over two nights in November 2015, at Stora Teatern in Gothenburg and Victoriateatern in Malmö. In addition to the consistently searing guitar work of Reine Fiske and the flute of Gustav Ejstes, the set features their Allas Sak collaborator Jonas Kullhammar laying down some fire on the sax. With a turbulent sea of rhythm behind them these three set loose a psychedelic dervish that’s spun sound into a dizzying conjunction of psychedelia, jazz, and acid rock. The band is at their peak on these recordings, not bound by notions of what Dungen has been defined by in the past, but building something that stands as a singular document of instrumental fortitude. It’s Dungen, in as much as the players are all there, but aside from lingering recurrent melodies from their past, this is a powerful document of players pushing themselves to redefine psychedelia in the live setting. This album, paired with the recent live album by Mythic Sunship from their Roskilde appearances sets a new bar for where the live record can reach. If there was a time that Dungen sparked a fire in your soul, then let this rekindle it yet again. The band’s never lost a step, but this some of the soundest evidence how exactly they’ve kept psych vital.



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Jess Williamson – “Wind On Tin”

Very glad to see that the country croons of Jess Williamson have returned this year. In her absence there’s been a wealth of great voices added to the sunset striains of alt-country, but her’s has always been a welcomed voice in the genre. With a subtle swish of the cosmic fabric, Williamson wields melancholy through the stardust whispers of the wind. “Wind On Tin” is a spiritual sojourn born out of grief in a dessert town. Williamson claims she’s heard god on the wind, “God” or something else — nature, the vibrational thrum of the earth, the strings of the cosmos. Whatever was on the wind is strung with the fiber of the universe and her song ruffles the same hairs on the neck that may have sprung to life in her hearing. The video, directed by friend and collaborator Eli Welbourne plays into the myth of the mournful cowboy, but its saturated with just the right amount of divine light. Williamson’s new album is out May 15th on Mexican Summer.

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Allah Las

Been a few years since Allah Las issued that last foray into the surf-splashed waters of their sunshine soul and their latest, LAHS, arrives not a moment too soon. The band has long been buttered by a carefree approach to garage, folk and psychedelia, but the new LP seems even more soaked in the languid love of the West Coast sounds than ever before. The songs here don’t fuss or grumble. The Las long ago threw their watches into the surf and let them float away. When the sun dips low they know it’s time to head to the covered patio perch that drives the night. Skin tightened by the sun, but never burned, this is the soundtrack to communal Mezcal flights – melding the salt air with the salt rim as the fingerpicked guitars burble in the background.

While the vibe is wholly Californian in nature, there’s also a sense of travel and wanderlust in the bones of LAHS. They take their relaxed attitude with them while they ramble on to the next locale. The band sparked the match on this particular sound with the soundtrack to the surf doc Self Discovery For Social Survival – turning the oceanic churn into musical motion – and they continue to fan the flames here. There’s a natty, ‘60s sense of properly buttoned, yet relaxed style to the album. The smells of linen and leather waft on the breeze. The yurt they hunkered down in is communal and the days are without itinerary. Even if you can’t get away, LAHS can act as a 45-minute microcosm of vacation and leisure.

Allah Las are the guides, shifting off the path and immersing the listener in a sea of unfamiliar voices – utilizing Spanish and Portuguese to add a new dimension to their songwriting. The veil of anonymity slips over the traveler in a new land and it is as comforting as the menagerie of spices that fill the air, balanced with damp wood and that familiar snap of salt on the wind. It’s the tie that binds. No matter where they roam, the sea is always lapping at the lashes of an Allah Las record. The band slips the ties between George Harrison, José Mauro, Curt Newbury, Curt Boettcher and UK folk group Heron, weaving together an album that exudes ease from every pore.



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ARP – “Voices”

Following on the success of his 2018 album ZEBRA ARP’s Alexis Georgopoulos put together a live ensemble to play Mexican Summer’s 10th Anniversary. The live setup netted a great response and Alexis and the band wound up in the studio working out an album with a five-person ensemble combing through material from the previous album and exploring new avenues in atmospherics and dub. The first track from the new Ensemble LP finds ARP diving through the kind of haunted ambiance that drew Georgopoulos to the sparse, yet affecting works of Finis Africae. It’s a slinking, saturated track, slicked with moss and seeping through the rocks. The new LP is out November 15th. It’s a new side to the ARP story and sounding pretty good at that.



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