The resurgence of psychedelic rock has been steadily building strength, and it has washed up a wave of jangly guitars and an undertow of echo. The more popular groups in the genre have been on the lighter side (UMO), or at the darkest, hitting upon a Piper at the Gates of Dawn feel (Ty Segall/White Fences/et al). Not many have delved into the shadowy reaches, but Austin veterans The Black Angels have been changing that. Their new album, Indigo Meadow, is a psychedelic fever dream filled with oil projections and black corners.
The opening title track sets the tone with Stephanie Bailey’s deep ritualistic drumming exploding into a swirling, horror film organ and guitar line. Alex Maas’ vocals have a Syd Barrett tone and a Lou Reed edge that bounces around the music in a distorted reverb haze, as he belts the chorus, “Always indigo, always indigo.” Christian Bland’s inventive guitar work and Kyle Hunt’s buzzsaw keyboards add another level of depth to the song, making it otherworldly.
Indigo Meadow features wonderful interplay between Bailey’s animalistic, driving drums, Bland and Hunt’s hand-in-hand instrumentation, and Maas’ fuzzy pipes. They can have a fun and playful sound (“Don’t Play with Guns” and “The Day”, both sounding so essential to the ’60s that it’s unreal) but also haunt with a bone-chilling presage (“Holland”, with a chorus of “I’d rather die than be with you tonight”).
Hat tip then to the immaculate production by John Congleton (David Byrne & St. Vincent, Explosions in the Sky). Every crack and corner sounds crisper and more succinct than the straggly facets of psychedelic rock today, and it’s clear that’s what’s been missing. The Black Angels don’t meander or mince words, and Indigo Meadow is a testament to that ideology.
Essential Tracks: “Holland”, “Don’t Play With Guns”, and “Indigo Meadow”