With five albums under their collective belts, the Austin-based psych rock outfit and JOVM mainstays The Black Angels — currently Alex Maas (vocals, bass), Christian Bland (guitar), Stephanie Bailey (drums), Jake Garcia (guitar) and multi-instrumentalist Ramiro Verdooren — have firmly cemented a unique take on psych rock that remains true to psych rock forebears like Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, Arthur Lee, and The Velvet Underground, while thematically touching upon contemporary concerns.
Interestingly, during that same period of time, the members of the acclaimed Austin-based JOVM mainstays have also managed to build a global profile within the international psych rock scene, a profile that has been further cemented by their long-running celebration of all things psychedelic, Levitation Festival, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.
If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you may recall that this year is a big year in the band’s almost two decade history: Their sixth album — and first in over five years, Wilderness of Mirrors is slated for a September 16, 2022 release through Partisan Records. Co-produced by the band and Brett Orrison with engineering by John Agnello, Wilderness of Mirrors reportedly finds the band attempting to achieve something fresh and new through a gentle and subtle refinement of the sound that has won them fans across the globe.
Throughout Wilderness of Mirrors‘ material, the band adds mellotron, string arrangements and an assortment of different keyboards to the mix, which adds different textures to their overall sound. Thematically, the album continues upon their long-held reputation for touching upon contemporary concerns — in particular, our uncertain and urgent moment of political tumult, the pandemic, and the ongoing devastation of the environment and its long-term implications to us and our descendants, among others.
So far I’ve written about two of the forthcoming album’s singles:
- “El Jardín,” a single, which at first glance is classic Black Angels: Bailey’s thunderous time keeping, Maas’ plaintive falsetto and supple bass lines paired with layers upon layers of guitar pyrotechnics and effects from Bland and Garcia — but the song’s sparking and brooding bridge sees the band adding bursts of twinkling Rhodes to the mix. Written from the perspective of our dear Mother Earth, “El Jardín” is a forceful and urgent warning to all of us: destroying the environment will ultimately lead to the destruction of humanity.
- “Firefly,” a loving yet classic Black Angels-like homage to 60s French pop, featuring a guest spot from Thievery Corporation‘s LouLou Ghelickhani, who contributes sultrily delivered vocals in French and English, alongside Maas’ imitable falsetto and paired with a hook-driven arrangement featuring reverb-drenched guitars, Maas’ supple and propulsive bass lines, some simple yet forceful timekeeping from Bailey and twinkling keys.
“Without A Trace,” Wilderness of Mirrors‘ third and latest single is a bit of classic, Passover through Directions to See a Ghost-era Black Angels centered around fuzzy and distorted power chords, a reverb-drenched guitar solo, Bailey’s thunderous and propulsive time keeping paired with Maas’ imitable vocal delivery and supple bass lines. The song sonically and thematically is an eerie and brooding meditation that asks “is is still possible to be invincible when everyone else is expendable.”
“We have always said that if you can rob a bank to our music then we are in the right ballpark,” The Black Angels say in press notes. “And while we don’t condone robbing a bank – the idea alone creates an anticipatable, adrenaline inducing soundtrack for your mind.”
The band will be embarking on an extensive headlining North American tour that includes an October 17, 2022 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Tour dates, as always are below.
North American Tour Dates
8/20: Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas
9/10: Lexington, KY @ Expansion Music Festival
9/30: Dallas, TX @ Granada
10/1: Lawrence, KS @ Bottleneck
10/3: St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall
10/4: Omaha, NE @ Slowdown
10/5: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
10/7: Madison, WI @ Majestic
10/8: Chicago, IL @ House of Blues Chicago
10/9: Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
10/10: Detroit, MI @ Majestic
10/12: Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Theatre
10/13: Montreal, QC @ Corona Theater
10/14: Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
10/15: Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
10/17: Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
10/18: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
10/19: Chapel Hill, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
10/21: Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
10/22: Nashville, TN @ Brooklyn Bowl
10/23: Birmingham, AL @ Saturn
10/24: Baton Rouge, LA @ Chelsea’s Live
11/3: Mexico City, MX @ Hipnosis Festival