Album Review: Indigo Meadow by The Black Angels

by on April 24, 2013

Posted in: Album Review, Eclectic, Music, Rock

 

Artist: The Black Angels

Album: Indigo Meadow

Label: Blue Horizon Ventures

Release date: 4/2/13

Recommend if you like: The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, The Black Keys

Grade B+/A-

Who are The Black Angels?

It is an obvious fact that music constantly changes over time. New sounds and new influences rise and fall, and today’s rock bands would certainly sound strange and out of place if you threw them back 40 years. Fortunately, The Black Angels made an exception for themselves.

Since 2004, this psychedelic rock band from Austin has been channeling the sounds of the Velvet Underground, early Pink Floyd, and early blues-rock acts like Canned Heat. They have created a vibe that sounds unique and slightly off-kilter when compared to modern rock bands, but which would bring down the house at Woodstock. Their droning guitar effects, drum beats saturated with symbols and endlessly driving snares, and crooning vocals would fit right in with a Vietnam montage or a basement filled with lava lamps and Andy Warhol posters. What is most refreshing, however, is that they have the energy and musical skill to make this “throwback” sound fresh, interesting, and still unique, rather than repetitive and nostalgic.

Indigo Meadow

Indigo Meadow, their fifth album, is another solid expedition into the psych rock genre, with perhaps a generally heavier feel and more of a blues influence than their past albums. The title track, also the first song on the album, starts off strong with a thick blend of electric blues and classic rock. Its heavy drum beat and underlying squeaky keyboard/backup guitar (lots of filters and feedback makes it hard to distinguish instruments) gives a traditional psychedelic rock feel, but a bluesy lead guitar and classic blues lyrics about girl problems create an interesting Syd-Barrett-meets-The-Black-Keys sound. This formula is repeated several times on the album, most noticeably in “The Day,” “Love Me Forever,” and “Black Isn’t Black.”

Despite this heavy blues influence, the album is still primarily filled with The Black Angels’ signature psychedelic sound. “Don’t Play with Guns” and “I Hear Colors,” are probably the most noticeable of these, bringing a brighter and happier feeling to the album and offering some much needed contrast. The rest of the album generally has the darker feeling of songs like their namesake, Black Angel Death Song, but there is enough variety that this consistent feeling doesn’t get repetitive.

Hov is unimpressed

But Jay-Z Says…

 “N-ggas want my old sh-t, buy my old album,” and he has a solid point. The biggest shortcoming of this album is that there isn’t exactly a shortage of famously good music just like it. It is an enjoyable listen, but it certainly isn’t anything revolutionary, and isn’t going to be replacing any of the classics any time soon. If you already own every early Pink Floyd album, and you’ve listened to The Velvet Underground and Nico more times than you can count, The Black Angels might not be an essential addition. But, if you haven’t had an extensive exposure to psychedelic rock, or if you just can’t get enough of it no matter how many decades you’ve been digging the classics, I highly recommend Indigo Meadow.