Net Nuggets 18: Black Angel Psych-out!

The Black Angels aren't particularly innovative—although everyone harping on about how «'60s retro» they are obviously can't be too familiar with the artists of whom the Angels are supposedly so derivative. The Velvet Underground, 13th Floor Elevators and Pink Floyd never sounded like this. No '60s band did. Said artists may have been more innovative, but musically at least, none of those bands possessed the bottom-heavy balls of the Angels; none could muster the nasty, gutsy grooves that they summon up. (You can't dance to VU or the Floyd…)

The '60s psych and garage revival is getting a bit tired—the cliché no less corny now than in 1967—but with the Angels you don't get any of that clever and sloppy punk kitsch or earnest flower power whimsy that's getting so grating these days. No, this is the spirit of rock'n'roll—a good mix of fuck-off fun and lose-yerself death trip transcendence. For all their negligible lyrics and nostalgic rhetoric—that «Turn on, tune in and drone out» Pop Art PR schtick—at least they're not cerebral. This music is sex & death. And if you're not sure whether that's a good thing, you of all people really need to hear this:

  1. Better Off Alone
  2. The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven
  3. Deer-ree-shee
  4. Bloodhounds on My Trail
  5. Black Grease
  6. Doves
  7. Ronnettes
  8. Civilization (with Roky Erickson)
  9. Syd Barrett Blues (by Christian Bland)
«Better Off Alone» was recorded for Texan student radio KVRX, whereas «The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven», «Deer-ree-shee», «Bloodhounds on My Trail», «Black Grease», «Doves» and «Ronnettes» were all recorded for Seattle radio station KEXP. All these songs are available in far better audio quality on solid studio albums Passover and Directions to See a Ghost—except «Ronnettes», inexplicably a rarity (that, incidentally, is worth the price of admission alone).

«Civilization» is the Black Angels backing original 13th Floor Elevator Roky Erickson! How's that for street cred. It makes Black Angel Christian Bland—whose first solo recording (the blues about Syd Barrett) was issued by French label Dead Bees—less questionable for writing a song about the Pink Floyd firefly, in the first-person. But Bland's home rec guitar noise trades his house for the cosmos. Stellar.

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