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The Black Angels Bring Their Phosphene Dream To Town

By Michele Lenni in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 15, 2011 5:40PM

blackangles.jpg This Austin, Texas quintet have made their mark on the music scene by combining their love of '60s garage and psychedelia and carefully mixing it with a more down-tempo, fuzzed-out, nod to the early '90s drone era led by head rock heroes like Spectrum and Jay Spaceman. Formed in 2004 and named for the classic dark and enigmatic Velvet Underground song The Black Angel's Death Song, it's not surprising that much of their catalog takes a similar morose and foreboding tone.

However, With the release of their third full-length album, the band decidedly takes a turn towards a sunnier and groovier sound. Phosphene Dream is an album built on a more traditional, straight ahead '60s garage-psych aesthetic. Recorded in Los Angeles with producer D. Sardy (Black Mountain, Holy Fuck), it is an album layered with more up-tempo, groovy melodies, swirling organs and punctuated with much more persuasive percussion and less droned-out, headier rock than their last two efforts, Passover and Directions to See a Ghost. Think more 13th Floor Elevators and less Spacemen 3.

Though a great deal of the record continues to remain a bit sludgy, our favorite moments of the record are when, whether pushed by Sardy or their own devices, they seem to have let the sun stream through the sessions and not only lightened their sound but have grown and developed into a tighter breed of songwriters. Songs like Haunting at 1300 McKinley, Telephone and Sunday Afternoon are decidedly more compact and breezy than anything they've attempted in the past eight years. This isn't to say that we aren't fans of their more drugged-out psych. We still gravitate to the more atmospheric songs on the record like True Believers, where frontman Alex Maas seems to have channeled the same vibe as Grace Slick and The Jefferson Airplane did on the classic psychedelic album, Surrealistic Pillow.

If you love this band as much as we do, you're in luck. They will be taking the stage this Monday, April 18 at Lincoln Hall. We highly recommend that you get tickets now as they will most likely sell out, like many of their other shows in Chicago.

Black Angels and Suuns play April 18 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N Lincoln, 8 p.m., $20, 18+