The Black Angels: Indigo Meadow
The Black Angels
Alternative & IndieRock
Blue Horizon Ventures
Brian Eno once famously commented that the Velvet Underground might only have sold 30,000 records while they were still together, but “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band”. In the case of Texas four-piece band, The Black Angels, they didn’t only start a band, they named themselves after the Velvet Underground’s ‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’ and use a high contrast negative of occasional vocalist, Nico, as their logo.
With those references, it should come as no surprise that The Black Angels’ sound is highly inspired by the Velvet Underground and some of their contemporaries. Lead vocalist Alex Maas’ voice has the same characteristic nonchalance as that of Lou Reed, while Stephanie Bailey’s dry and often primitive drums are in line with Maureen Tuckers’ bare rhythms.
Other notable influences are the Doors, especially in the wild, flailing organ on tracks, ‘Evil Things’, ‘I Hear Colors (Chromaesthesia)’ and ‘Twisted Light and War On Holiday’. There is a hint of early Rolling Stones in ‘Broken Soldier’ and the Yardbirds recieve a nod on ‘The Day’. Overall, this fourth album by the psychedelic quartet breathes the atmosphere of the 60’s flower-power era, with a dash of garage rock.
It sounds almost exactly the same as the Black Angels did on precursor, Phosphene Dream, but this is where the saying ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ readily applies.
As with most psychedelia releases, and therefore all output by the Black Angels, the production on Indigo Meadow is dense. On most songs the guitar, bass and drums are stirred into an impenetrable paste of sound, with the vocals drowning somewhere in the middle. A notable exception to this is ‘Holland’, which might be the cleanest the band has ever sounded, thanks to a crisp guitar melody and the sudden appearance of an ambient synthesizer.
The somewhat macabre lyrics on this record contrast the hippie feel of the music, with Maas proclaiming “It’s hard to kill when you don’t know who’s side you’re on” on ‘Broken Soldier’ and telling the tale of professional killers, Josephine and Angie, “The demon with Lucifer eyes” on ‘Don’t Play With Guns’.
If you’re in need of a new addition for your 60’s psychedelica playlist, look no further than the Black Angels’ Indigo Meadow; turn on, tune in and drop out.