Album Review: The Black Angels’ New LP ‘Indigo Meadow’
by J. Hubner
As soon as those tribal drums start in, and that psycho-esque dissonance pipes up, you pretty much know what you’re in for throughout the next 45 minutes or so. Indigo Meadow isn’t any great leap for The Black Angels. Did you like Phosphene Dream? Well you’re probably going to like Indigo Meadow just fine. All the hallmarks of a Black Angels album are here; BRMC posturing, Nuggets borrowing, cult-ish vibe and dark psychedelia. Add just a touch of pop seasoning and you have yourself a plate full of goodies that aren’t good for you, but they taste pretty decent going down.
“Indigo Meadow” starts things off like a Black Angels’ album should start; complete with big drums, “evil”-sounding guitars, and Alex Maas singing “Lay your hands, on my chest girl, you’ve been a problem since the moment I met ya”. It’s a sound that’s permeated every album The Black Angels have put out since 2006. Nothing more, nothing less. A noticeable difference is the production. It’s much cleaner and polished than previous albums. This may be good or bad, depending on how you like your psychedelic rock delivered to your ears. “Evil Things” goes a little more metal with an almost Black Sabbath feel until the bridge when it stops momentarily for a quick ‘flower power’ moment. Pretty soon the organ comes in and it sounds like Tony Iommi jamming with The Doors. “Don’t Play With Guns” is the biggest change in their sound, with an almost pop feel to it and Maas sounding as if the spirit of Black Francis took over his body for the recording. This song at times has a Pixies sound to it, though I don’t think that was a conscious decision on The Black Angels part. Just happenstance I suppose.
A band that never seems to get mentioned as an influence on so many of these stoner/space/psych rock outfits is The Doors. Maybe it’s just not cool to mention the ‘Lizard King’ anymore, I don’t know, but listening to quite a few of these songs on Indigo Meadow I’m reminded so much The Doors that I feel I must mention them. “Holland” would’ve fit just fine on Waiting For The Sun, for example. And “Always Maybe”? There’s an empty spot on Strange Days where it could’ve sat. But The Doors aren’t the only band I hear in the distant and gloomy echo of the Fulltone Tape Echo and the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb.
“Holland” – The Black Angels from Indigo Meadow
“Love Me Forever” sounds like a Byrds and The Animals collaboration until the fuzzed-out riff comes in to remind us that these guys like things loud, too. And there’s still plenty of Strawberry Alarm Clock and 13th Floor Elevators acid-tinged tracers, err, I mean traces. Closing track “Black Isn’t Black” is the best of the lot. A doom and gloom dark blues psych monster of a track that -to my ears- sounds like a band not wearing their influences on their sleeves, but a band taking their influences and making something completely their own. Here’s hoping “Black Isn’t Black” is the jumping off point next time around.
The Black Angels have taken their sound not a step up, but a good few steps forward at least. The sound is brighter, but the haze lingers.
6 out of 10