The Black Angels: Directions to See a Ghost

By: Sarah Hagerman

When I find the time I love to run, but naturally I need the music to motivate me. The ominous opening notes of, appropriately, "You On The Run" make me feel as if I'm being chased from my apartment complex by shadowy government agents as I make my way through the park. The echoing, single guitar strum quickly crashes into cymbal rhythms and muddy buzzes that rain down like the sky is falling. When Alex Maas' hypnotic vocals kick in, I already feel drawn into the getaway, constantly looking over my shoulder as I continue by the river. There is graffiti spray painted on the stone wall near the water that shows bombs dropping and sarcastically reads, "Enjoy Freedom." The otherworldly noises floating in my eardrums suggest that maybe the artist's paranoia is justified.

With Directions to See a Ghost (released May 13 on Light In The Attic), Austin's The Black Angels further the psychedelic rock trip begun with their self-titled EP and continued on their debut album, Passover. The aesthetics are distinctively retro; the album caps with a 16-minute, feedback-sprinkled, distortion-heavy jam called "Snake in the Grass," and the artwork suggests something you might find while flipping through your cool hippie uncle's record collection. But, that hardly makes the Angels a nostalgia act. The usual musical gimmicks of the genre - jingly percussion, droning guitars and even swirling sitars - are given life and warmth on this record. The dense sound pulls back from the over the top punches that would pigeonhole the band, making the music grounded in a way that is timeless.

The peak of this is perhaps most evident in "Never/Ever." Delicate, feathery noodling slips into Maas' shamanic soft wailing before breaking down into the distorted sound of muffled screams. In a pupil-dilating moment of sonic clarity, the driving bassline and drums suddenly kick aside the fuzz in favor of some heavy, classic sounding rock 'n' roll. Acid rock by way of lo-fi, this album creeps up your spine, like a nice dose of liquid, and then completely absorbs your brain before you've had a chance to scratch that itch. By the end the chase has become a vision quest.

JamBase | Texas
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 6/7/08]

Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!

You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!



Hollow starstarstarstarstar Sat 6/7/2008 01:16PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Yep. Primal beats, sick grooves and haunting vocals keep this album in heavy rotation on my player.

briank67 starstarstarstarstar Sat 6/7/2008 06:49PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i agree with you mtn hollow. 'passover' was a great album, and this is a GREAT follow-up. i look forward to seeing them for the first time in a few weeks; i've heard recordings but the studio version of 'snake in the grass' is amazing, especially with those echoed (backwards?!) screams.... score one for texas psychedelia! in my opinion, the black angels are certainly one of the best 'pure' psych/acid rock bands around.

thedrugsdontwork Sat 6/7/2008 11:01PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


ya i really dig this band, i highly recommend them to anyone with an eclectic taste in music, and chances are if you are a jambase regular, you fit the description.

Muffinman1 Sun 6/8/2008 09:32AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I've heard the passover album, and while I really liked the music, the singer doesn't do much for me. I really like their style though and I'll definetly give this a listen.

Christian Sun 6/8/2008 10:53AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Fantastic album!

DeadKennyG starstarstarstarstar Mon 6/9/2008 06:21PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Excellent follow up album from my hometown boys (and gal). The live shows will take you on a trip. Nice, positive review Sarah. Much better than the self-important douche nozzle on Pitchfork.

P.S. I love jogging down the hike and bike trail to tBA also :)

moejoerisin Fri 6/13/2008 10:33PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


self-important douche on pitchfork? no way!

thedrugsdontwork Fri 6/13/2008 11:06PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i've listened to the new album a few times in the past few days, and it is pretty damn good. if you are in the mood for something new to fill the space between your ears, give these guys a chance. i'm happy i did. and, like most bands i get introduced to these days, i first heard about them through this wonderful site. thanks jambase, keep doing what you are doing.....