"Are they black?" --Iggy Pop. Formed in 2004 and hailing from the mescaline-infused outskirts of Austin, Texas, this gang of misfits has been on the road non-stop since their birth, performing at such venues as Sin-e, The Empty Bottle, and Spaceland. In early 2006, the band's self-titled debut EP was dubbed highly recommended in Spin Magazine, and received heavy radio airplay on such influential stations as KEXP and BBC Radio 1 by Zane Lowe. In January 2006, the EP stood tall at #28 on the CMJ 200, a rare feat for a four-song introductory EP. This year will see the band spread their lysergic wings across the globe, perfoming live throughout North America, the UK, Europe, and Australia. The Black Angels reach high and stretch out over the ten songs on their introductory album "Passover" with trance-inducing guitar lines from Christian Bland, Nate Ryan's filthy medical dumpster bass, additonal four and six string work from Kyle Ryan, and the grizzly preacher vox of lead shaman Alex Maas. Fifth track "Black Grease" is a bluesy monster full of swagger propelled by primitive beats of drummer Stephanie Bailey and nouring drone of organist Jennifer Raines; the gritty twang of "Bloodhounds on My Trail" seems like a perfect lost 'nugget' from the golden age of garage rock; and the other eight all seem like singles as well. The debut full-length from The Black Angels comes down as strong as the Day of Judgment. drone of organist Jennifer Raines.
Every now and again a band capable of not just capturing the spirit of a bygone era but portraying it with uncanny authenticity and accuracy arrives, and in an era where music lovers seem increasingly ravenous for psychedelic-inflected rock, Austin's the Black Angels are precisely that act. Following on the heels of their recent Turn On, Tune In, Drone Out
EP, the quintet transports listeners to a land of napalm-bright LSD flashbacks with an elegantly unholy sound that proves both eerie and ethereal. "Young Men Dead" and "The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven" walk the line between celebratory dance and grief-filled dirge. These tracks unnerve the conscious mind with unsettling drones and vocals that seem to have emerged from some parallel universe where the struggle, strife, promise, and even the seedy underbelly of the Love Generation lives on in each primal drum beat and louder-than-loud bent note from a guitar that could not have been built anywhere on Earth, but has been drenched with the sweat and blood of a generation on the verge of either victory or collapse. If there is an act in American popular music with a future brighter and vaster than the cosmos, the Black Angels are it. --Jedd Beaudoin