BLACK ANGELS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Passover (Light in the Attic) 2006
Directions to See a Ghost (Light in the Attic) 2008
The Black Angels' obvious reference point is the Velvet Underground. The Austin band, which traffics in dark, droning psychedelia, is named for a VU title. They perform the occasional death song and even have a female drummer. But it's still a deficient and lazy comparison. There are all kinds of ways to drone darkly, and the Black Angels favor a low, slow-burning rumble that has as much in common with Cream, the Jesus and Mary Chain and early Pink Floyd as the Velvets. Passover is a pretty cool disc overall, but does suffer a bit in the pacing. Enough songs lurk at the same tempo that it's sometimes hard to tell one from another. The ones that shake up the formula the most "The Prodigal Sun," the raga-inflected "Manipulation" and the almost sprightly "Bloodhounds on My Trail" are the standouts.
Directions to See a Ghost is a vast improvement. Bringing Stephanie Bailey’s drumming to the forefront, the Angels forge a more rhythmic sound, swapping atonal drone for added melody. All of the familiar psychedelic touchstones remain the Doors and early Echo and the Bunnymen most especially in suitably haunting tracks like "18 Years" and "Doves." Elsewhere, the band experiments with a sitar (the Zeppelinesque-down-to-the-title "Deer-Ree-Shee") and break out some big rock guitar chords ("The Return"), but the sound never strays too far from black light poster grooving.[Brad Reno / Jason Reeher]
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