Saturday, October 09, 2010

Retro Flair

Black Angels, Phosphene Dream, Blue Horizon

Long story short: I love this record. Who could've seen that com-
ing? I mean, I fell hard for the Austin outfit's Passover, but follow-
up Directions to See a Ghost felt rushed. The group's psych-rock
sound was in full effect, but the songs weren't there. I need songs.

So, while I'm sad to see that they've left local label Light in the At-
, the switch to Blue Horizon, the new imprint from Sire's Sey-
mour Stein and ex-Strangelove Richard Gottehrer--and produc-
er of the Dum Dum Girls debut--has done them a world of good.

The change may have nothing to do with it, but they appear to
have spent more time on Phosphene Dream. The songs are
there, and they didn't turn to bubblegum to make it happen--
not that I dislike that genre, but I expect rock from the Angels,
and their third LP brings all the fuzz and distortion of their first.

That said, those who never found them sufficiently original may
persist in that view. Their influences remain transparent, and yet
they sound like themselves, a tricky feat to pull off. It helps that
Alex Maas is a persuasive singer joined by talented players who
all get the chance to shine (there isn't a weak link on this disc).

I hear references to many of my favorite artists, like Syd Bar-
rett, the Velvet Underground, Clinic--even the much maligned
Doors. The short, sharp "Telephone," in particular, sounds like
a long-lost should-have-been-a-hit single from the Zombies.

Click here for "Telephone" video.

Since the band hails from Texas, it only makes sense that they'd
also throw in a few nods to the 13th Floor Elevators. They've serv-
ed as Roky Erickson's backing band, so it's fair to say they've earn-
ed the right; much like Posies Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, who
spent quality time with Alex Chilton in the reconstituted Big Star.

In a great year for psych-rock--see Ty Segall, Wooden Shjips,
etc.--the Black Angels have still managed to produce one of
the finest examples yet. And not just as far as 2010 is concern-
ed. This album, for my money, is one for the psychedelic ages.

Jakob Martin, Leave the Light On, self-released [11/16/10]

Folk-rock with soul swing, L.A. singer-songwriter Jakob Martin
adds harmonica and piano to this five-track release, which lends
the proceedings retro flair. Recommended to fans of Ben Harper,
Jack Johnson, and Dave Matthews. Not my thing, but not bad.

Endnote: Trivia: Alex's sister, Wheedle's Groove helmer Jen-
nifer Maas, is married to LITA head Matt Sullivan. The Black
Angels (and Black Mountain) play Seattle's Showbox on 11/29.
For more information about Jakob Martin, please click here.

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