The band is fully assuming the mantle of its Velvet Underground roots with its latest album.
It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from the Black Angels. They spoiled us with a track record of releasing an album about every two years and touring only consistently in between. But the last four years, we’ve been left to wonder what they’re up to. Unparalleled as they are in their dedication to psychedelic rebirth and reinvention, we have some breadcrumbs to follow.
The Austin-based group has been working since 2011 with the Reverberation Appreciation Society to organize Levitation Fest (formerly known as Austin Psych Fest), a carefully curated collection of U.S.–based and international acts representing new and classic psychedelic, experimental, and noise rock, including Tame Impala, the Dandy Warhols, Shannon & the Clams, Lightning Bolt, Graveyard, and the Zombies. Though county officials demanded they cancel last year’s anchor fest in Austin due to inclement weather and flooding on Carson Creek Ranch, other miniature versions continued in Vancouver, Chicago, and France. The last major Black Angels tour in 2014 brought an original psych trailblazer Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators back on the road with a fresh backing band, the Hounds of Baskerville. And Christian Bland, the source of much their meandering psychedelic guitar sound, has been dabbling in side projects, including the sun-soaked and reverb-rich Christian Bland & the Revelators.
Flash-banging their way back into reality, the band is fully assuming the mantle of its Velvet Underground roots with its latest album, Death Song. In the lead up, they have dropped three singles, complete with videos and visualizers, which reveal a tone both retrospective and reinvented. “I’d Kill for Her” builds logically on the femme fatale concept of “Don’t Play with Guns” from Indigo Meadow, while “Currency” invokes the pace and fire of Phosphene Dream, as well as the cutting political critique of their 2006 album, Passover. Third single “Half Believing,” primarily features Alex Maas in an unusually despairing tone, at times approaching Angel Olsen–level anguish.
In addition to an artful selection of rare acts, the Black Angels’ Levitation Fest also distinguishes itself with a dual-sensory experience of vibrant visual backdrops: tilting kaleidoscopes, turning prisms, cut-up videos, and jagged overlays. The Black Angels bring this experience on the road with “An Exhibition of Sight and Sound featuring the Mustachio Light Show” produced by the Revelators’ drummer, Bob Mustachio. With the experimental industrial/new wave noise of A Place to Bury Strangers opening the set at Delmar Hall, it is guaranteed to be an evening of glorious sensory overload. Prepare to be awed and disoriented. | Courtney Dowdall
See the Black Angels with A Place to Bury Strangers at St. Louis’s Delmar Hall on May 15; the band hits Denver during their second U.S. go ’round in October. Full tour dates are below.
04.26 | The Basement East, Nashville
04.27 | The Mill & Mine, Knoxville
04.28 | Variety Playhouse, Atlanta
04.29 | The Orange Peel, Asheville NC
04.30 |9:30 Club, Washington, DC
05.02 | Brooklyn Steel, Brooklyn
05.04 | Union Transfer, Philadelphia
05.05 | Paradise Rock Club, Boston
05.06 | Danforth Music Hall, Toronto
05.07 | St. Andrew’s Hall, Detroit
05.09 | The Woodward Theater, Cincinnati
05.10 | Newport Music Hall, Columbus
05.11 | Thalia Hall, Chicago
05.12 | First Avenue, Minneapolis
05.13 | Majestic Theatre, Madison
05.15 | Delmar Hall, St. Louis
05.16 | Madrid Theatre, Kansas City
05.18 | White Oak Music Hall, Houston
05.19 | Granada Theater, Dallas
05.20 | Stubb’s, Austin
10.16 | The Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix
10.17 | House of Blues, San Diego
10.18 | The Mayan, Los Angeles
10.20 | The Fillmore, San Francisco
10.21 | Roseland Theater, Portland
10.22 | Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC
10.23 | The Show Box, Seattle
10.25 | The Depot, Salt Lake City
10.26 | Ogden Theatre, Denver