Several years ago, I took myself along to a (then) new venue here in Glasgow called, ‘Stereo.’ I was going to see an up and coming ‘local’ band called (at that time) Paper Planes who were playing in a ‘support’ slot. Perhaps it was because I’d had a few beers, but I made the rash decision to miss my last bus home and check out the ‘headliners.’
And I’m so glad I did! They absolutely blew me away, and since that day I have been a confirmed fan of THE BLACK ANGELS.
‘Indigo Meadow’ is the Austin four-piece’s fourth studio album (the long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s ‘Phosphene Dream’) and cements their reputation as psych music’s foremost band.
That said however, I feel this latest release evidences a more accessible sound and will attract listeners who may not particularly consider themselves fans of the ‘psych’ genre. But die-hard fans will not be disappointed either – this is still most definitely a BLACK ANGELS album!
A statement of intent is issued with the first thumping drum beat of the album opener / title track. ‘Indigo Meadow,’ stomps its way through its near three-minute duration in a really direct and determined fashion. It takes no prisoners; no faffing about – just straight into a slightly ‘eastern’ feeling, psychedelic song with hooky guitar loops and here’s the thing – a catchy sing-a-long chorus.
Contrast this with ‘Evil Things,’ and its Sabbath-esque riff running right through the core. The pace is slower and the mood decidedly heavier. It’s right in your face, this one! ‘Don’t Play With Guns,’ was released as the first single from the album and was prophetically written just days before the terrible happenings at Aurora, Colorado last year.
‘Holland,‘ slows things down a little. The vocals are bit more ‘dreamy’ although the kick-drum maintains a steady rhythm that, despite the quiet Seventies style organ breakdowns veers the song away from a purely downbeat feel.
‘The Day,’ retains a bit of a Seventies vibe with a pomp and stomp that edges close to the Glam beats and harmonies of that era. ‘Love Me Forever,’ sounds like it took inspiration from even further back, in the Sixties! Again, the guitar has an ‘eastern’ flavour (and maybe there is even a sitar actually at play on this one?) although the chorus bursts through in true heavy psych fashion.
‘Always Maybe,‘ returns to a more hazy, bluesy feel with shimmering guitar and reverb-drenched vocals. (Is there perhaps a little 13th Floor Elevators ‘bubbling’ going on way in the background?) ‘War On Holiday,’ is one of those tracks that may pass you by on the first couple of listens to the album – it did me – but when I had to actually ‘listen’ to it you notice the subtle little nuances sitting in amongst the general rocking of the song. ‘Broken Soldier,’ is another with a stomping beat that marches right across your aural senses, reminding you that psych music has more to it than just hazed dreams. (Accidental reference to Psychic Ills – sorry.)
‘I Hear Colours (Chromaesthesia)‘ is another driven on by the pounding drum beats. The general background drone is offset by definite Sixties sounding vocals and as the song develops, so does the overall pace and psychedelic, trippy feel. ‘Twisted Light,’ starts out on the quiet side but soon progresses to a heavier sound with buzzing guitar riffs and rolling drum rhythms laying the base for the Hammond organ whines.
‘You’re Mine,‘ is probably as close to a ‘pop’ song as you’ll get with THE BLACK ANGELS. It’s ‘lighter’ than the other tracks and has an infectious beat – again incorporating a Sixties feel with the whirling organ and harmonies. (I don’t hear any hand-claps. there should be hand-claps!)
The album closes with ‘Black Isn’t Black.‘ Now, tell me this doesn’t sound like ‘Haunting At McKinley 1300′ from their last album at the outset! At four minutes and twenty-one seconds, it’s the longest track on ‘Indigo Meadow.’ For just over half of its duration, things are pretty quiet, but the final couple of minutes burst into life although again, I find the guitar loop very familiar sounding…. buggered if I can say why though!!
THE BLACK ANGELS can do no wrong in my book. They are, in my opinion, one of the finest bands around right now. This album proves it. I rest my case.
(‘Indigo Meadow,’ is released through Blue Horizon on 1st april 2013)
(10 / 10)