Fricke's Picks: Black Angels


Even by the nonstop-rock standards of 2008's SXSW festival, it was weird to see a band that seems to live on ultraviolet light, out in broad daylight, making rippling-tremolo drone on the lawn of a downtown Austin restaurant. But local tripsters the Black Angels bring the aura of mid-1966 — the drilling guitars of early Velvet Underground shows, the raga inflections of late-show Fillmore jams, the acid-prayer stomp of Austin avatars the 13th Floor Elevators — everywhere they go, including the levitations on their second album, Directions to See a Ghost (Light in the Attic). Mid-Eighties echoes of Spacemen 3 and the Jesus and Mary Chain also roll through the scoured-guitar sustain and Alex Maas' rocker-monk incantations. But he knows what time it is. "You say the Beatles stopped the war," Maas sings in "Never/Ever." "They might've helped to find a cure/But it's still not over." Even so, this medicine works wonders.

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David Fricke

Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke has more than 10,000 albums in his New York apartment. His first record review for the magazine was Frank Zappa's 'Sheik Yerbouti' (RS 290).

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