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Phosphene Dream (Deluxe Edition)

The Black Angels

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Album Review

When a band opens its album with a song called "Bad Vibrations," hits the midway point with another called "River of Blood," and titles its grand finale "The Sniper," it's safe to assume that the group is not much worried about seeming wholesome and friendly. And even if the Black Angels had given the songs on their third full-length album, Phosphene Dream, titles relating to bunnies, flowers, and ice cream, this music would still cast a long shadow of bad karma; the Black Angels appear to be stoned on the same stuff Thee Oh Sees have been taking for years, but with fewer hallucinations and a good bit more crummy attitude. While most bands following the path of the gloomy and the stoned sound a bit sloppy, on Phosphene Dream the Black Angels feel tighter and more precise than they ever have before, and the unified attack on these tunes helps the medicine go down without robbing the music of its sinister power. The musicians certainly deliver the goods, calling up a web of guitars, keyboards, and drums that thunder and ooze at the same time, and the melodies walk steadily more than they lurch. Producer Dave Sardy gives this music an approach that's just tidy enough, letting the important noise throb purposefully while letting the extraneous noise fall by the wayside, and he manages to make Phosphene Dream sound cleaner than most albums of this ilk without taking the guts out of the sound. And amidst all that is dark and sinister on this album, "Telephone" is a classic bit of garage rock swagger in which the Black Angels reveal they can make music you can dance to when they feel like it. Sometimes being bad can be more fun than being good, and on Phosphene Dream the Black Angels hit that sweet spot more often than not; next time you're having a séance or reenacting the Sunset Strip riots, this is just the soundtrack you need.

Biography

Formed: May, 2004 in Austin, TX

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The sultry neo-psychedelic sound of the Black Angels came together in spring 2004. Hailing from Austin, TX, Stephanie Bailey (drums), Christian Bland (guitar), Alex Maas (vocals), Jennifer Raines (organ), and Nathan Ryan (bass) took their name from a Velvet Underground classic, "The Black Angel's Death Song." The band's self-titled debut EP was released in late 2005. After a string of North American dates in winter 2006, the Black Angels readied...
Full bio
Phosphene Dream (Deluxe Edition), The Black Angels
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