Archive for the ‘The Black Angels’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 18, 2022] The Black Angels

The Black Angels are a psychedelic band from Austin, Texas.

I’ve known about them for about ten years.  Their music sounds pretty similar from album to album–fuzzy guitars, catchy riffs and Alex Maas’ recognizable haunting voice.

I Wasn’t really sure what to expect in a live show from them–I assumed some psychedelia.  So I was a little surprised at how stripped down their stage was.  There was a five panel screen and some vertical lights between them.  The l ights shone all different colors and patterns and set the tone of the stage.  The overhead lights were mostly there to add mood.

In other words, I could barely see anyone.  Which was kind of cool.  It created a dark ambiance and meant you focused more on the music than the band members.  The only person I could see with any real clarity was drummer Stephanie Bailey, who pounded the hell out of the drums.  The other three guys, Christian Bland, Jake Garcia and Ramiro Verdooren all played guitar or bass or keyboards.  There was so much switching around of instruments–even though both Bland and Garcia play left handed guitars!

I stood in front of Bland and it was really fun watching him solo and riff and make some really interesting sounds out of his pedals and amps.  He had a bicycle bell on his mic stand (the roadie rang he bell while setting it up), but he never used it in the set. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 18, 2022] The Vacant Lots

The Vacant Lots are two guys from Brooklyn.  And wow are they loud.

The two guys are Jared Artaud who played guitar and sang and Brian MacFadyen who did pretty much everything else.  MacFayden stood at a keyboard rig and played keys and drum loops (I’m not exactly sure what was looped, as some of the songs were repetitive, but it was clear he was trigger some drum sounds live.  He also played a cymbal, which was a nice live touch and meant that he was never not busy.

The music was essentially electro, but Artaud’s live guitar added a layer of “live-ness” that elevated the whole affair.  As did Artaud’s whole vibe.  He had on big black boots, a fringed jacket and sunglasses.  He stood there playing Jesus and Mary Chain kind of drone guitar and it worked a treat. He also walked around a bit and added some feedback, really cementing the live feel.

But it was MacFayden’s rig that was so loud.  The drums were maxed out and echoing and I had earplugs in from the get go.

I slightly preferred the songs that MacFayden sang, but they weren’t radically different from each other.  I don’t think I’d listen to them as a studio band, but live they were pretty great.


  1. Departure (single)
  2. Never Satisfied ψ
  3. Consolation Prize ©
  4. Thank You ©
  5. Fracture
  6. 6 AM ψ
  7. Mad Mary Jones ψ

© Closure (2022)
⇔ Interzone (2020)
ψ Departure (2014)



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[POSTPONED: March 12, 2022] The Black Angels / L.A. Witch [moved to…]


I really got into The Black Angels with their 2013 album Indigo Meadow.   I’ve recently been enjoying their Live at Levitation vinyl.

They’re just one of a bunch of younger bands who are exploring psychedelic music in a heavier vein than the original psychedelic bands.  And I like it a lot.  Plus they are supposed to put on a trippy show.

I mean, their post says

HERE is an incredible show. It will shock and amaze you.

And a poster would never lie. (more…)

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aareentry SOUNDTRACK: THE BLACK ANGELS-Tiny Desk Concert #132 (June 8, 2011).

I hblakangelsave The Black Angels’ 2013 album Indigo Meadow and I like it a lot.  It has a cool retro psychedelic vibe while still retaining a heaviness that sounds great.

For this Tiny Desk Concert, which is more or less in support of their 2010 album Phosphene Dream, the band strips down to almost a folk band.

There is an acoustic guitar, and hollow-bodied electric which I think is not plugged in (one guitar plays the bass lines and other one plays the solo notes), there’s a harmonium (the second one in a few weeks on the Tiny Desk), there’s a drummer (with basically a floor tom) and the lead singer with a tambourine.

No one is amplified except the singer–whose voice is processed to sound extra trippy (note especially the first lines of the second song, where he sounds like he’s singing from outer space).  His singing is very gentle (especially since they are basically unplugged, which makes the effects seem even more powerful).

The band plays four songs, “Bad Vibrations” which is a great way to start off.  “Haunting At 1300 McKinley” showcases that echoing voice very well.  One of the guitarist sings nice harmony vocals as well.  The harmonium has that vibrato sound that also makes the song seem trippy.

“Entrance Song” has the other guitarist singing harmony (deeper voice compared to the singer’s rather high voice).

For the final song, “Too Much Hate,” the singer plays the guitar (leaving the former guitar player with nothing to do).  The sentiment of the song is excellent, really showing off a hippy vibe.

I really like The Black Angels a lot, and this makes me think I need to check out their earlier stuff too.

[READ: February 3, 2016] Astronaut Academy: Re-Entry

I enjoyed Book 1 a lot but I enjoyed this sequel so much more.  I’m glad that I put off reading this one until after the first because even though there were no mysterious things that I wouldn’t have gotten, the whole experience is definitely greater if you read these in order.

This book opens with a similar style–brief episodes about each person–and what they have been up to over the summer.  I enjoyed that Hakata Soy has been spending his time on earth (such a novel idea).  But that’s when he gets the devastating news that Princess Boots, the girl he gave his second heart to in the backstory, actually gave it away and is now dating his arch-nemesis Rick Raven.

Scab Wellington was released from prison (which makes Maribelle Mellonbelly happy).  And Thalia Thistle still hasn’t told her dad that she plays Fireball. (more…)

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june2SOUNDTRACK: THE BLACK ANGELS-Indigo Meadow (2013).

indigoThere’s another round of bands with Black in their name.  I had heard good things about this particular “black” band so I decided to get Indigo Meadow, their 4th album.  And while the album cover hints at the type of music (retro psychedelia), I was unprepared for the insane retro feel of this album.

The guitars are fuzzy, the keyboards are straight out of the 70s, there’s a middle eastern vibe and the vocals even sound of that era (a little tinny, a little fuzzy).  The music is a little heavier perhaps than the music of the era (well, except for Black Sabbath, of course)–louder, faster drums, newer guitar noises, things that make it sound new, not just like a lost relic

There’s something minor key and ecstatic about the way the title track builds and builds.  It’s an auspicious opening to the album.  It’s slightly off kilter but ever so catchy.

“Evil Things” has a big old heavy metal riff, but it throws in some different items–a slow soaring chorus and a big old Doors’ keyboard solo (over the top of that heavy metal riff) which creates an interesting mix of sounds.  “Don’t Play with Guns” has a slightly different sound, with a sixties pop chorus (under that psychedelic fuzz of their guitars).  The delicate keyboard opening of “Holland” quickly morphs in to a more retro keyboard sound with more echoed vocals.  It is one of the longer songs on the album at 4 minutes (So despite this album being psychedelic, the songs are all pretty short, emphasizing their pop roots).

Like “The Day” which is only 2 and a half minutes.  “Love Me Forever” has a very Byrds-ian feel, but with a far heavier chorus.  “Always Maybe” has an exotic sounding guitar riff and “Broken Soldier” has a really chorus (for a pretty dark song).

“Twisted Light” alternates between that retro keyboard and a buzzy guitar riff.  And the harmonies reinforce that era’s feel.  “You’re Mine” even sounds like it might be a cover (that chorus is a perfect example of psychedelic pop).  The final song plays with the set up somewhat by having the first two minutes build quietly before the big fuzzy guitars propel the song to the end.

So yes, the album is not original (although it is, since they take a style and aren’t afraid to tweak it) and it does not deviate from the style very much.  But it’s done so well.  And f you enjoy psychedelic pop (with a bit of heavy metal sprinkled on top), this i s an album that you will enjoy.  It’s 45 minutes of fuzzy pop fun.

[READ: August 17, 2014] “Ba Ba Baboon”

This is a story of deception, dishonesty and dogs.  It is told in third person and as we begin, we see that there are two people hiding in a pantry.  It turns out that the protagonist, Brooks, and his sister, Mary, are the ones hiding.  And they are hiding in someone else’s home.  We learn that whoever they are hiding from may have left.  But before we learn why they are in the closet, we learn a bit about Brooks.

He had an “accident” some time ago which did damage to his brain.  Someone smashed the left side of his head with a brick and took his car and wallet.  His memory isn’t what it used to be, but his “old self” likes to make jokes at his own expense (like singing “If I Only Had a Brain”).  And he is also rather different–he can’t tolerate smoke anymore even though he used to be a smoker, he can’t wear any dark clothes and he is intolerant of creases in his pants.  And, worst of all for Mary is that Brooks used to be the one who looked out for her–her big strong older brother, and now it is her turn to look after him.

So why has she gotten him trapped in a closet?  Mary says “we’ve been in here for an hour.  I don’t see the dogs.”  It turns out that on the other side of the flimsy door are two of the biggest dogs they have ever seen.  These are vicious guard dogs who can be turned of with a safe word, which Mary thinks is “Baba Beluga” or something like that. But that clearly isn’t it. The dogs and the house belong to Wynn, a “friend” of Mary’s.  (more…)

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5.20SOUNDTRACK: BLACK ANGELS-Evil Things (2013).

blackangelsThis song has a 70s era metal sound (with a heavy early Black Sabbath feel).  It opens with a big riff and surprisingly quiet vocals (the vocals are not really sung loudly, they’re almost whispered, and they are very clean–it’s a nice contrast to the big buzzy guitars).  But for al the buzzy guitars (and the wonderfully dated to 1967 keyboard sound), there are passages that are quiet and almost gentle.  Indeed, there’s a lot going on in this song.  It’s a nice marriage of heavy metal and psychedelia.

I love the way the end seems like it’s uncontained–like they couldn’t control the feedback.  It’s interesting that Bob and Robin on NPR relate this more to psychedelic bands of the late 60s and yet I hear more Black Sabbath–of course, Sabbath was a lot more psychedelia than we let on.

I’d like to hear more from these guys

[READ: May 16, 2013] “Cats Robo-Cradle”

The five brief pieces in this week’s New Yorker are labeled as “Imagined Inventions.”  And in each one, the author is tasked with inventing something.

Since Atwood wrote Cat’s Cradle, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this piece—the title of which was just kind of odd.  As with many magazine titles, I feel like perhaps she didn’t come up with the title because that’s not what she calls her invention–someone just tried to tie it into her famous novel.

Anyhow, she begins her piece by talking about the fascinating-sounding Museum of Failed Products in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  She says that there are so many interesting things there, some of which she feels must be better than her own invention, and must be better than Pop-Tarts.  She says she predicted the failure of Pop-Tarts because when her family first tried it, the jam exploded all over the toaster.  So she knows from good and bad ideas.

Her idea has to do with the death of so many birds and rodents from feral cats.  Recall that birds are predators of insects so their dwindling number is affecting forests and garden.  When cats kill the birds (and the rodents that larger birds eat), they are permanently impacting the climate.  Her idea is for a safe (to the cats) trap which she calls the Robo-Coyote. (more…)

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