In a year when a newly found Velvet Underground bootleg has been burning up blogs and fansites across the globe (the now famous 1967 show at the Gymnasium that features not only unheard gem “I’m Not A Young Man Anymore,” but the first live performance of “Sister Ray”), the Black Angels will hopefully be able to capitalize on their blisteringly dark, Velvets-influenced rock ‘n’ roll.
Directions To See A Ghost is both a continuation of the raucous, drone-inflected sludge rock that the Austin, Texas group developed on their 2006 debut Passover and their aesthetic co-development with producer Erik Wofford (My Morning Jacket, Explosions in the Sky, Okkervil River) diving deeper into their signature brand of dark psychedelia.
On the slow building “Mission District,” an unfolding olio of electric guitars blister outward like every form of siren and alarm, like the aural representation of a dank, crime-infested neighborhood. “18 Years” clangs and jerks along, guitars updating the drone of Kevin Shields’ best licks, while a narrative unravels about a woman “controlling the pain of you, with the palm of her hand.” The unrelenting snare and tremolo guitars spiral off into infinity, repeating and repeating, just as our unwitting narrator returns to his abusive object of affection. “Never/Ever” blossoms with an energy not dissimilar to the sound of early New Order, when that band was still attempting to emerge intact from the ruins of Joy Division. “Vikings” lightly trembles on the edge of a crumbling electric guitar as the Black Angels unwittingly unearth the album’s most relaxed moments of beauty. The epic 16-minute album closer, “Snake in the Grass” and the sitar-infused “Deer-Ree-Shee” offer formidable zone-out bliss-rock moments, but it’s the dark alley paranoia of “You On The Run” where the Black Angels deliver on the promise of Passover as a new generation’s dark rock ‘n’ roll animals.
Favorite Track: “You On The Run”