Friday, June 28, 2013

Alias Means Releases 'Light Matter'

A Quirky Country Music Contemplation on Life and Love
Release Date: August 27th, 2013

A young man with an old soul, Alias Means has long been entrenched in the Americana/country/bluegrass music scene, playing all of the established showcases, such as Ronnie Mack’s Barndance (which started careers for the likes of Rosie Flores, Dwight Yoakam and Lucinda Williams), The Grand Ole Echo, and the infamous Art Fein’s Elvis Birthday Bash (where actor Fred Willard actually gets up and sings).

Inspired by varied artists from Earl Scruggs to the Rolling Stones, Alias Means is not one to lock himself into a box, when it comes to playing music. Ranging from rock n’ roll, country rock, honky tonk and bluegrass, Light Matter showcases Alias’ versatility for instruments and the ability to move through genres with ease. He is a man who can equally be at ease singing an Elvis tune at Ronnie Mack’s, a Stones karaoke in Little Tokyo, or a Lithuanian folksong in Vilnius. Oh, yeah—and he can write.

The record starts off with “Delicate Mind”, a rocking number that’s also a cheatin’ song of sorts (the subject doesn’t cheat per se, but doesn’t fully commit to the relationship). Means sings, “She said she was an actress--But she could only fake it--I said she’d need some practice--If she was gonna make it”. Then we move into a lost-love country song with “Sleeves” and the sentiment, “No matter where I ramble—No matter when I leave—There’ll always be a piece of me, Hiding up your sleeve.” “Things I can’t Explain” moves us into ballad territory, as does “Winterblind” while “No Concern of Mine” mines pop music leanings. “Thor’s Scene”, a psychedelic country poem ends the record with the message to do what you believe in—“ I don’t care where the wind blows, directions are my own, I pawned in my protection for a sunrise on the road--I don’t care where the fools go, I’m going where I go, And knowing where I’m going is all I need to know”.

Light Matter is his first official record and he’s assembled a recording crew that is a virtual “Who’s Who” of Los Angeles players. Paul Marshall is on bass (Strawberry Alarm Clock, I See Hawks in LA), Marty Rifkin on pedal steel (Glen Campbell, Dwight Yoakam, Bruce Springsteen), Darice Bailey on Keys (Eugene Edwards, The Coals), Jorden Levine (Ocean 11) and Gene Micofsky on guitars and with Matt Lucich (Queensryche, Pat Monahan) on drums. Alias himself contributes guitar, harmonica and piano and Brian Descheneaux (Means’ oft-partner in karaoke) adds backing vocals. Alias mixed the record on his own and then enlisted Joe Gastwirt (Grateful Dead/American Beauty, Dylan’s Time out of Mind) to help with mastering.

The cover photo was made using the Collodion wet plate process that was introduced in the 1850’s and replaced daguerreotype photography. It was taken in front of an old church with a telephone pole prominently in the picture almost mimicking the church’s cross. The photo echoes the record’s musical themes of spiritual vs. technological and old vs. new.

In a dramatic turn, Alias found inspiration for the record, when almost succumbing to an early death after sustaining a head injury. With his Doctors calling him “a walking miracle”, he found himself wanting to be more serious about his music. “I felt like someone was tapping me on the shoulder and telling me-life is short, you should really do this,” says Means, “I think when you make it through something as traumatic as that, there must be a reason.”

Taking it seriously is one way to put it. When Means couldn’t find a studio that had everything in place that he wanted, he decided to create his own. “It took me a while, but I eventually got what I wanted for my production,” he said. Paying for the studio and the record were another matter. Holding down a day-job that didn’t pay nearly enough for the expense of the recording, Means solved his dilemma by falling back on a hobby that he had loved and was good at—gambling at casinos. “There are moments when I have won thousands of dollars and then lost it,” he said, “But I always walk out with the money I went in with and eventually I was able to pay for the recording.” Currency issues aside, we have a feeling that for Alias Means Light Matter is a sure bet.

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