The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

Out/proud Austin combo the Black Angels – “out” as in, “far out, maaan…”; “proud” because they make no apologies for their overt brand of Sixties-channeling psychedelia – have been churning out sonic bummers since 2004, four albums and sundry EPs’ worth of fuzz, feedback ‘n’ drone that’s only grown more potent, like a barrel of whiskey aging down in the cellar. It’s just that the Angels’ brand of hooch is spiked with mescaline. The group has always been more black light than day-glo, crafting pounding tribal anthems shot through with minor-chord organ motifs and shimmering sheets of modal geetar twang. This approach has yielded a signature sound as a result, and on Indigo Meadow, with producer John Congleton setting the controls for the heart of El Sol, the Angels refine that sound even further.

While a lot of attention has been paid to first single “Don’t Play With Guns,” for obvious reasons, the grinding hard rock thumper isn’t the best track on the album. A brace of Nuggets-worthy numbers – “The Day,” “You’re Mine” and “Always Indigo” conjure ghosts of the Remains, Electric Prunes and the Seeds, respectively – ensure that no one’s going to mistake which era the band draws inspiration from. Other tracks twist the dial ahead a couple of years: the poppy “Holland” suggests Waiting For The Sun-era Doors; “War On Holiday” quotes from Pink Floyd’s “Lucifer Sam”; and “Love Me Forever,” with its echoey ambiance and baroque flourishes, nestles stylistically in the period between Sgt. Pepper’s and the dawn of Prog-rock. In fact, at times Indigo Meadow feels like the Angels pulling a Dukes Of Stratosphear, but minus the inside jokes that marked XTC’s tongue-in-cheek approach.

At a time when the contemporary music scene’s take on psych appears to spring from early ’90s shoegaze, with modern-day nü-gazers tilting towards the precious and ethereal (more Slowdive, less Swervedriver, if you catch my drift), it’s reassuring to have psychedelic pharmacists like the Black Angels who are willing to eschew trendiness for timelessness.

The Black Angels
Indigo Meadow
[Blue Horizon]