Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Album Review: The Black Angels - Phosphene Dream

The Black Angels’ motto has always been “tune in and drone out” thanks to their heavy reliance on organ-driven psychedelic sounds. Well, on their new album Phosphene Dream, The Angels seem to still be deeply entrenched in this mantra. Granted, things have changed a bit. The band is heavily influenced by Lou Reed and his legendary art-rock group, the Velvet Underground. So much so that the group’s official logo is a picture of Velvet Underground member Nico. Where The Black Angel’s songs once drifted and dragged along in ways quite similar to the Velvet Underground, things are a little different on Phosphene Dream. Perhaps this is because they recorded the album in Los Angeles instead of in their hometown of Austin, Texas. Either way, the group has taken a small step outside their comfort zone, but definitely not a leap. Give a listen to “Telephone” and you may think that the Angels are trying to be featured in the next Apple commercial. “True Believers” sounds like a lost single from Jefferson Airplane and “Sunday Afternoon” chugs along like a song by The Doors. It’s clear that on Phosphene Dream The Black Angels are wearing their influences on their sleeves. That’s not to say that the group hasn’t formed their own musical niche in the ways of psych-rock. The ominous drone (a sound that is entirely their own) that was once at the forefront of their music now shares the spotlight with bluesier-than-ever guitars and hard-hitting drums. It seems that producer Dave Sardy (Oasis, Wolfmother, Band of Horses, Black Mountain) has given The Black Angels some of the confidence they need to baby-step away from their comfort zone. Hopefully on the group’s next album, they’ll be ready to take some bigger strides.

Watch The Black Angels perform “Telephone” on Late Night with David Letterman.

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