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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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