Another Single from Alex Maas

Three singles into the new Alex Maas record, and this is by far the one that will stand out to me before I go and listen to the Black Angelssinger’s solo record. On first listen, there’s this reverberation through your speakers, almost sort of allowing the notes a bit of levitation just outside your ear. On my end, I’m giving my appreciation to the intimate folky nature of the track; it’s as if the song was meant to serenade the masses before a worker’s march…perhaps tying into Maas reflections on looking inside society for a bit of good. Luca is out on December 4th via Innovative Leisure.

Alex Maas Announces Solo LP

I feel like many folks listening to the Black Angels all these years will be quite taken aback by Alex Maas‘ solo work, and while I love BA, I think I might even love this better. It has this nostalgic pop sound, the sort that filled every room of my home as a child (thanks Dad!). There’s still this sort of foreboding in his vocals, and perhaps in some of the lyrical content of this particular track, though the music definitely seems uplifting. Every moment here feels like its being painted with these huge sweeping brush strokes, leaving classic pop sensibility on the sonic canvas. Pretty powerful stuff. Luca is out on December 4th via Innovative Leisure.

The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

The-Black-Angels-Indigo-Meadow-Album-Cover-e1358880938544Rating: ★★★☆☆

From the moment that Indigo Meadow opens, the drums seem to crackle in your speakers, while the guitar creates a trance-like sensation.  It’s a mood that sits with you for the beginning of your listen to the new record from Austin’s The Black Angels, but like always, the band allows for that sentiment to resonate for just a few tracks.  Just a few minutes later, “Evil Things” has that heavy-handed guitar churning again, creating that psychedelic cum metal stomp, but the chorus just beyond the 1.5 minute mark indicates a world of madness and beauty that arrives later.  Of course, the band wants to leave you with a smash and grab at the end of the track, just so you know they mean business.

But, you can leave the heavier stuff for a bit, as mesmerizing tracks like “Holland” wait your ears.  Sure, there’s a stereotypical organ placed in the background, but the way the guitar slowly plods along and the vocals swirl and the shout revert listeners back to the innocence of Haight-Ahsbury; songs like these are reminiscent of the genre at its best. That same sentiment exists throughout the middle of the record, especially with tracks like “Love Me Forever,” though the Black Angels always add their own twist.  Slowly the song snakes around the reverb vocals, but they push down on the distortion pedal and let out a momentary growl.  Then it soars off into a Zombies-esque vocal harmony that lasts all of about 3 seconds.  It may seemed like a scatter-brained world you’re listening in on, but I think that’s ultimately what makes Indigo Meadow an album worthy of repeated listens.

In the past, I’ve felt, though not minded, that The Black Angels often get stuck in their own sound, but the work here shows that they’ve branched out, reaching into all of their musical influences on one record.  I’ve mentioned the heavier opening numbers, and perhaps some of the psychedelic nods that are placed here and there, and that attitude allows for a certain diversity that will keep your ears entertained throughout. You’ve got groovy nostalgic ditties like “You’re Mine, which might be one of my favorite tracks on the LP, has this fuzzy throb to it, accompanied by ringing guitar cuts and the perfect accompanying percussion.  But, you turn around and find the album closer “Black Isn’t Black” built on a different wave-length.  Yes, there’s a throb/pulse here, but it’s much more sinister…that’s only made stronger by the way the vocals were recorded for this tune, like a ghost haunting your ear drums from the echo-y cavern of your skull.

While some may choose to focus solely on the lyrical content, or the misconstrued words of others, none of that really matters to me when listening to The Black Angels.  Having seen the band live many a time here in Austin, I listen to their tunes in hopes of creating my own landscape where the band’s music will accompany me.  Perhaps they’re playing in a cave that serves as drainage into Edward’s Aquifer, or maybe they’re taking me on a haunted boat cruise along Lady Bird Lake; regardless, they’re always taking me somewhere (musically and physically) that allows me to appreciate them as musicians playing the Devil’s good old-fashioned rock n’ roll throughout the entirety of Indigo Meadow.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/02-Evil-Things.mp3]

Heavy Handed Rocker from The Black Angels

blackangelsI mean, does anyone else really need to praise The Black Angels?  They’ve long been one of the stronger groups in the psychedelic resurgence over the last five or so years, especially in the live setting.  We’re not too far away from the April 2nd release of the band’s newest album, Indigo Meadow, and it’s shaping up to be a really strong album.  Based on my first few listens to the record, there’s almost more of a rock-centric approach to the songwriting, though the traditional bombast the band has embodied continues to be there. On this track, I especially like the soft moment around the 1.5 minute mark; it’s definitely a nice touch to this track.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/02-Evil-Things.mp3]

 

New Jam from The Black Angels

blackangelsproofs-63481-Edit-239This new jam from Austin’s The Black Angels has been floating around just a little bit, but we’re just now getting a chance to post the tune for you.  Interestingly, there’s a slight change in the sound, almost having a more direct approach to the dark-tinged rock element, as opposed to their hazier past.  Clearly the band has something going, and I can only wish that rock n’ roll like this could break through to the masses.  On April 2nd the group will release their new record, Indigo Meadow, which is sure to be a new fan favorite.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/76981202″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

New Tunes from the UFO Club

What do you get when you combine bits of The Black Angels with pieces of The Night Beats? The UFO Club! Reverberation Appreciation Society has been spreading the news that they’ll be offering up a limited edition vinyl collection for a split 10″ that will feature tracks from the UFO Club, as well as a few from the Night Beats. This released song is hauntingly dark, and I dare say that it probably delves more into the psychedelia than Christian Bland’s regular gig.  It’s one of those tracks that just sort of takes you through this twisted tunnel of heavy vocals and bits of guitar noise.  Definitely give this a try, and if you like it, you can stream the whole album HERE.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/02-Chapel-In-My-Mind.mp3]

Download: The UFO Club – Chapel In My Mind [MP3]

Friday Top 10: Austin Albums of 2010

It’s that time of year folks, the time when we THINK we know what’s the best of the best.  In a year where some old faces reemerged, and some new faces joined the scene, we had a hard time narrowing things down, but these are our favorite Ten Albums by Austin bands in the year 2010.  If you think we’re wrong, we’re cool with you voicing your opinion, but be nice, these are just one group’s opinions.

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The Black Angels – Phosphene Dream

Rating: ★★★½☆

You’re probably reading about The Black Angels because you think you’re into psychedelia, but you know what, as much as the band seems to live up to the name in their own attitude, its about time we just focus on the music rather than stuffing it in some tired sack with the rest of the bands unfortunately labeled as such.  Phosphene Dream sticks with the same pastiche the band’s utilized in the past, so don’t necessarily expect to find a whole lot of new territory covered, unless you’re looking for the ghost of Arhtur Lee.

It’s always a brooding affair when you get involved with an Angel’s record, and right from the get go there’s this coating in feedback and atmospherics, probably the one that gets them tagged as psychedelic. It sounds like another run of the mill track for the band (not that that’s a bad thing), but with about a minute to go the band just jumps into this driving energetic trip down the highway, fueled by squalling guitar and heavy-handed drumming. A brilliant closing minute. But, of course, they’ve got to pay homage for a bit to their San Francisco brethren of the sixties, which means “Haunting at 1300 Mckinley” is going to show you that jangling guitar stomp covered with guttural vocal accompaniment. Maybe its par for the course, but its never bad with this group.

There’s some changes adrift for the group, but you think that The Black Angels could take it even further.  “Sunday Afternoon” only gets tied into their typical sonic attributes with that little organ grinding in the background, not to mention the hollow effect of the vocal, but its one stepped up from being super stripped down.  You’ll love that solo and the jam in the middle for its raucous power, but man, if they just got rid of all that noise, that could be ridiculous.  Wait, they do get rid of it.  Listen to “True Believers” and you’ll find the direction that seems most logical for the band following Phosphene Dream. Just because they peel back a few layers doesn’t make the track any less dangerous or ominous, especially if you use the closing moments as your measuring point. Perhaps you’ll even notice hints of Clutch, with an homage to Austin, of course, on “Entrance Song.”  The throbbing bass builds the momentum, and while its a touch repetitive withe “rolling fast down I-35” lyric, there’s a bit of a haunting to this presence, perhaps one that can only be felt by those cruising down one of the most dangerous stretches of American highway.

While it may seem like there’s some criticism for The Black Angels with this review, its far from that.  They’ve been so successful with their efforts in the past, and dominated this dark sixties influenced rock scene, that it’s hard to find things to say that haven’t been thrown around hundreds of times.  Personally, they sound a whole lot more like Love than 13th Floor Elevators, but that’s one man’s opinion.  Phosphene Dream is going to be just as successful as their last effort, and perhaps the records in the future. They’re a great band with great songs.  It’s just plain simple.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/04-Sunday-Afternoon.mp3]

Download: The Black Angels – Sunday Afternoon [MP3]

New Music from Christian Bland

Christian Bland and the Revelators is a little known Austin band, but we all know Christian.  He’s the guy shredding guitars and spreading the noise for The Black Angels.  Recently, he uncovered an album’s worth of recorded material, and will be releasing it as   The Lost Album on September 1st.  It’s going to be super limited to 333 copies, and will include a poster designed by Christian himself.  This is a wonderful glimpse into the mind of one of Austin’s leading musicians.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Christian_Bland_and_The_Revelators-The_Lost_Album-04-I_See_You.mp3]

Download: Christian Bland and the Revelators – I See You [MP3]

Austin Psych Fest Preview

In 2008, Austin Psych Fest was just a one day event meant to display the collision between the visual and musical.  Two years later, the fest has grown into a three day ordeal.  It still holds to its mission of gathering bands that are pushing the envelop of expanding your mind on various levels, which makes it more than just a festival of great music.  It will take place this Friday thru Sunday, and it features some incredible bands we know you’ll love.

Friday features great acts such as The Raveonettes, Warpaint (so good live) and Indian Jewelry.  Saturday you want to get there to see local favorites The Black Angels.  Sunday’s line-up is ridiculous: The Black Angels, The Dutchess and the Duke, Warlocks and Yellow Fever.

Be Sure to go and grab your tickets and spend your weekend at the always enjoyable Mohawk.  Keep it local, keep it rocking.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/01-reservoir-park.mp3]

Download: Dutchess & The Duke – Reservoir Park [MP3]

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