The Black Angels - Indigo Meadow

The Black Angels aren’t trapped in the past they regularly plunder for musical booty.

Is nostalgia all bad? The Black Angels take their name from a Velvet Underground song, and are the most recent entry in a sort of Renegade History of Americana; a hot mess of psychedelia and blues rock that shares DNA with the Velvets, Jefferson Airplane, and the bands that have learnt at their heroes’ knees (or at least, from their record sleeves) – The Raveonettes, Wolfmother, The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Slavish devotion to the mores and fashions of old music can is deathly dull. There’s no point in just photocopying something you like – it’ll come out just the same, or maybe even a little worse. But besides a stint as Roky Erickson’s backing band, The Black Angels aren’t trapped in the past they regularly plunder for musical booty. Their reprises and variations on psychedelic rock’s distinguishing features – organs that sound like an acid causality has fallen asleep on them, vocals with more than a nod to Grace Slick run through at least three different filters, whammy bars twisting guitar sounds into a möbius strip of looping, mind-bending noise – aren’t left to rest on their laurels, but are put through their paces by an energetic rhythm section and a strong sense of melody.

There are a couple of bum notes on ‘Indigo Meadow’ – ‘The Day’ in particular plays the early garage rock a little too po-faced, doo-wop backing vocals and all, and sounds like Spinal Tap predecessors The Thamesman – but for the most part the Angels charitably continue to breath life into a ragged genre with a looseness and playfulness that belies their serious business name. Nostalgia isn’t all bad, so long as you remember to have fun with it.

Tags: The Black Angels, Reviews, Album Reviews

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