Published on August 17th, 2013 | by Craig Silliphant


The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

Texas psych rock band The Black Angels can be dark and trippy, but still on the accessible side of the genre.   They do have their menacing moments; on their latest album, ‘Indigo Meadow,’ singer Alex Maas vocally stalks around like Darth Vader, long black cape swishing on the deck of his Star Destroyer.  But the band has the ability to pull out of that sinister vibe and veer into lighter territory, opting for more of a 60s throwback to bands like 13th Floor Elevators and other stuff from the 65-68 Nuggets era, rather than their doomier stoner rock contemporaries like Sleep or Electric Wizard.  They beg the usual obvious comparisons to Jefferson Airplane; in fact, I think you legally have to mention that when you write an article about them.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, and I think it hits me less on this album than it did on the last one, ‘Phosphene Dream.’

The Black Angels are the creators of Austin Psychfest, which I was lucky enough to hit in 2012.  It’s an ambitious event that brings together a helluva line up every year, usually over 50 psychedelia-related acts.  The band itself has scaled down since I saw them in 2012 though, now operating as a four-piece.  This has given them some focus, allowing them to add instruments like flutes and the Tibetan singing bowl, and also allows them to experiment with song structure a bit.  And thankfully, at the heart of it, they still rely on some righteous guitar jams.

As on ‘Phosphene Dream,’ sometimes the lyrics can dip into silliness on ‘Indigo Meadow. ‘ For example, you’ll hear things like:

“That was then, when we were just people,

Doing people things, like collecting dreams…”

At least, that’s what I think he says.  The imagery is always cool, just some of wording can be slack, and they sometimes practice the ‘anything for a rhyme’ mentality that teenage cheese eating high school troubadours are famous for.  But whatever — usually the lyrics are buried enough in the groove that you can go with it.  It’s better when they just hypnotically repeat things like, “Don’t play with guns.”

I don’t mean to sound negative (unfortunately for those around me, it comes naturally).  ‘Indigo Meadow’ is another assured effort from a band that has proven themselves to be modern psych rock icons, leaders of the scene in Austin and beyond.  ‘Indigo Meadow’ shows that they’re capable of further growing their sound, and that ‘Phosphene Dream’ wasn’t a fluke.

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About the Author

is a D-level celebrity with delusions of grandeur. A writer, critic, creative director, editor, broadcaster, and occasional filmmaker, his thoughts have appeared on radio, television, in print, and on the web. He is a juror on the Polaris Music Prize and the Juno Awards. He loves Saskatoon. He has horrible night terrors and apocalyptic dreams.

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