Many will spend this week sifting through the rubble that was South-by-Southwest to see who survived and who was left behind, perhaps losing themselves in a similar way that Alan Garner lost himself in Vegas during the first Hangover. As every insider type heads back to their locales and each band continues with their tour, there’s something to be said for a band that’s actually from Austin. Lost in the hype and hubbub of SXSW is that the music scene in the Texas capital is pretty damn good. One of our favorite bands from the city is psych rockers The Black Angels.
Getting their name from The Velvet Underground’s “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” the quartet makes no mistake in clearly expressing their sound through their band name. Formed in the middle part of the last decade, the band’s early material was noted for being at the forefront of the psych scene that’s always been a part of Austin, beginning with the 13th Floor Elevators back in the ‘60s.
Their sound combines elements of Iron Butterfly and of course, Velvet Underground. Heavy riffs and drone-y guitars pace their dark sound, but singer Alex Maas’ haunting vocals and dark lyrical content is what differentiates the band from other neo-psych outfits.
Over the years, the band has toured with likeminded rockers, not necessarily psych outfits, but other blues rock groups like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Queens of the Stone Age, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and even serving as the backing band for Roky Erickson, a founding member of the 13th Floor Elevators who is considered one of the pioneers of the psych rock genre. Through touring with the aforementioned bands, along with multiple major festival appearances and seeing their songs licensed to film, television and sports programs, The Black Angels have seen their profile grow over the years.
Early next month, the band will be releasing its fourth album, Indigo Meadow. Judging by the first song that’s been released from the album, “Evil Things,” the Austin-natives will be at their brooding best. The song uses all of the elements mentioned above to create a song that many will feel compelled to nod and headbang along to.
In support of the album, The Black Angels will be hitting the road for an extended headlining tour this spring, including an appearance at the hometown Austin Psych Fest. Usually by a band’s fourth album, fans know what they’re getting. In the case of The Black Angels, they’re able to build upon what their fans can expect in order to create a sound that’s more ominous