Austin, Texas’ The Black Angels have been assembling a modern spin on psychedelic rock since 2004. By channeling a hybrid of Velvet Undergound psych pop, Black Sabbath proto metal and Blue Cheer’s heavy blues they have lead a charge to nurture a psych community by helping to found and curate Austin Psych Fest, a four day music and arts festival dedicated to all things psychedelic.
Their recorded efforts have demonstrated a commitment to an assertive, dense, and kaleidoscopic worldview. While Indigo Meadow stays firmly rooted in these stylistic conventions it also offers some nuanced texture. By downsizing to a four piece the band has granted greater influence to producer and live mixer John Cagelton, resulting in a vibrant, compelling album with fresh production clout.
The title track plays as theme song, filled with swirling organ atmosphere and Alex Mass’ weighty incantation of “always indigo”. Menacing and heavy on “Evil Things”, instrumentation is wound tightly and playing direct. The Angels’ strength lays in their ability to remain compact in their power, offering less musical sprawl then many of their contemporaries. As a whole the album flaunts this ability to burn with torrential intensity yet maintain Velvet Underground pop sensibility. The substantial mass of Christian Bland’s dark, distorted power chords overlay crisp drumming from Stephanie Bailey and precise, linear bass work from Mass and Kyle Hunt. “Don’t Play with Guns” is fierce, fiery and ominous but “Holland” and “Twisted Light” shift the color palette, exuding thick shadows that lean and lurk with tight organ and guitar exploration. “You’re Mine”, “Love Me Forever” and “The Day” highlight a power blues and psych pop side.
The Angels excel most at quickly creating a heavy mood. With the brooding textures from Cagelton, Mass’ opaque and foreboding lyrics, and wickedly succinct instrumentation Indigo Meadow affirms and deepens a growing catalog of cavernous psych rock.