Trending
MOST READ

Best Salsa Club

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Texas Law Leaves Abortion Out of Reach for Many Women

Texas Law Leaves Abortion Out of Reach for Many Women

News: Texas’ sweeping abortion law has already eliminated all abortion clinics south of San Antonio, and the last clinic west of the city is expected to close... By Alexa Garcia-Ditta 8/27/2014
How Rebates Have the Texas Film Industry Playing Catch Up To its Neighbors

How Rebates Have the Texas Film Industry Playing Catch Up To its Neighbors

Screens: See if you can spot the common thread that is pulling at the seams of the Texas film industry. On NBC’s The Night Shift, a stock-written staff... By Matt Stieb 8/27/2014
Oaxaca’s Lila Downs Bends Gender, Politics and World Music

Oaxaca’s Lila Downs Bends Gender, Politics and World Music

Music: Swaying side to side with a child in his arms, Texas Rep. Mike Villarreal nodded politely in my direction before returning his captive attention to the... By Jade Esteban Estrada 8/27/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Music

The Black Angels' Long and Winding Road

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo


Ask Alex Maas to define “psychedelic,” and he’s got an answer ready.

“Eighteen grandmothers in a yellow polka-dot bikini, playing banjo onstage,” he says.

It’s a shitty, sarcastic answer, sure. But you gotta figure that, as frontman for the Black Angels, founders of Austin Psych Fest and a band that named itself for a Velvet Underground song and worshipped the cosmic drone back in the early ’00s when rhythm-obsessed bands like Joy Division and Gang of Four were the retro tunes of choice and the phrase “Tame Impala” meant fuck-all to anyone, he’s probably heard that one before.

Turns out this is just one more case where the dictionary is even less helpful than a rock star. “Psychedelic,” says Merriam-Webster, is a noun meaning “a psychedelic drug (such as LSD).” But let’s assume our friends are lame, and scoring Lucy in order to better understand an article just isn’t an option.

We’re back to the grandmothers and the polka-dot bikini, which doesn’t much describe the band’s sound. If it’s any help, Maas names like-minded visual artist Alex Grey as a fellow psychonaut. For the uninitiated, the music of the Black Angels, free from its more complicated antecedents, might be the Platonic ideal for psychedelic music, combining that famous Velvet hum with the self-serious lyrical poetry of Jim Morrison (not hating — somebody has to bring in the wood for carving, as Ezra Pound says). To put it another way, the Black Angels are the only hipster-era band likely to write a war protest song with zero irony. But they aren’t interested in rehashing the Flower Power era, Maas says. It’s more complicated than that.

“If a song sounds good, if it makes us feel good, then we’ll keep playing it,” Maas says. “It might be more hip-hop psychedelic, it might be more traditional ’60s psychedelia, it might be folk psychedelic music or surf or garage. There’s so many different genres, so it’s kind of difficult to just focus on one thing.” Their latest, Indigo Meadow, moves through all of these sub-genres and then some without missing a mind-blowing beat, while baiting hooks with catchy choruses and offering heavy-handed but timely criticism on “Don’t Play With Guns.”

According to an article in LIFE published in 1969, “true ‘acid rock’ goes deeper than just lyrics. It employs a monotonous, harshly amplified drone sound which can act as a psychedelic stimulus,” and that seems fair. Without Owsley Stanley’s kitchen-sink acid, there’d be no USA, circa 1967, and without 50 years of drug-abusing rock stars, there’d be no Black Angels. Even if they can’t define it, the Black Angels are the standard-bearers for modern psych-rock, and if you ever do get ahold of those drugs, you’ll be goddamn glad they’re here.

The Black Angels feat. Pure X, Wall of Death

$18-$21
7pm Sunday, May 26
The White Rabbit
2410 N St. Mary’s
(210) 737-2221
frontgatetickets.com

Recently in Music
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus