Everything Come Through

Photo by Aubrey Edwards

And so the psych revival rolls on from "Keep Austin Weird" TX with the newest revisionists, the Black Angels, as the epic '60s movement digs its acid-coated claws into the baby skin of kids who got asthma from living in dust bowls and were left with nothing to do but glue their fingers to the record needle, spinning the songs their parents spent a million stoney nights with.
Of course, it's much easier (and totally allowed) to re-envision a time you didn't experience in its inception; how much more colorful that era looks now without the firsthand overdosing, brain frying and STD spreading that ensued. Now we pop more pharmaceutical pills than LSD, and although the peace pipe is still making its eternal rounds, it's to the new-classic background jams of bands like Black Mountain paired with the original counterculture surges of Jefferson Airplane or the United States of America; we're hearing music fashioned from a comfortably tattered dashiki of influences.

And the Angels are refreshingly honest about those influences. Austin, proudly proclaimed the birthplace of psychedelic rock, is home to the 13th Floor Elevators, pioneers of the genre. Black Angels guitarist Christian Bland notes, "As far as we feel inspired to re-create music like this, it's because of the city we live in. The 13th Floor Elevators are the band we look up to as our forefathers. We hope to follow in their footsteps and keep the legacy of Austin as the home of psychedelic music alive. The psychedelic scene here isn't like it was back in the '60s, but we hope to revive that spirit. It's the perfect time, and there's no better place than Austin."

Named after the Velvet Underground song, the Angels' music is a calculated seven-member crossbreed of the Velvets, Brian Jonestown Massacre (Anton Newcombe is their guru) and every good marathon song (see Spacemen 3 or the Jesus & Mary Chain) ever made. Their 2005 self-titled EP is all organs humming Loch Ness mating calls, dueling fuzz/clean guitars, the steady chimes of a tambourine and those languid, droney vocals.

Live, the Austinites play shows that attempt to engage all the senses. Big on video projections and lengthy jam sessions, an Angels show is like witnessing a much younger Plastic Exploding Inevitable (the Velvet Underground/Warhol performance that fused a light show, Warhol stills and the heroin antics of geniuses). Sure, the kids aren't inventing the game, and today's Warhol superstars might seem lackluster in their suburban-mountain-grunge getups, but the desire for sensory overload hasn't diminished.

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Would OC be able to handle such a psych wave? The Black Angels aren't so sure. "In June of '05 we played at this place called the Gypsy Lounge in Lake Forest," Bland says. "The turnout was like 30 people. I'm not sure if the OC is ready for psychedelia, but we're bringing it back because it's time they opened up their minds and let everything come through."


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