Let’s just throw to the air, for the best catcher, a list of The Black Angels‘ influences, and end it right now.
Spaceman3, Velvet Underground, Roky Erickson, possible Black Sabbath or any light-hard rock band from the early seventies.
Now, once we got that out of the way, we should talk about neo-psychedelia.
The term neo-psychedelia had undergone many changes in the last 25 years. Basically, everything that is post-progressive rock (that killed the hippies, only to be found dead later, by the shirtless average Pistols fan) and has some sort of a hallucination feel to it, is considered to be neo-psych.
The entire Paisley sound of mid eighties in the US, or the thin link between Robyn Hitchcock‘s Egyptians to XTC and their moniker Dukes Of Stratosphere, is totally entirely different then what happened afterwards.
The nineties had their own neo-psych stuff with bands like Flaming Lips gaining popularity, Mercury Rev‘s first albums and many others.
And the 00′s – well, that’s where the mess started. The growing popularity of the Internet made the excitement of finding a new band…well..a bit less exciting. However, it did allow people to find out about true obscurities.
That basically led to the lack of meaning in genre definition. I call everything post-pre-post. It’s a general name for a genre I give in order to avoid genre defining, and I try to avoid it as much as I can.
Boundaries are dropped, the folk became acid, acid became trance, trance became acoustic, acoustic became electric, electric became electric, and each one of these genres lived for a short time, only to stick a significant pin in the time machine map of the music world, and yet gained itself the legitimacy to have the words ‘pre’ or ‘post’ sticked to it, only a short time after the definition was created.
And why am I telling you all this? Just to point out that Passover by The Black Angels (released in 2004), is a fucking amazing album, and if you wanna call it Neo-psych, be my guest. I don’t know what that means anyway, I just know these guys took their influences that I mentioned above, mixed them all together, added reverb and monotonic vocals (a la Royal Family and The Poor), hypnotic repetitive themes and phrases and made a brilliant album.
Two years ago they had their second album Directions To See A Ghost which was a bit more polished, hooked together and ‘correct’. But I think in the case of the Black Angels, they should have stayed in the more garage phase, as they are at their most authenticity, without the pressure of being a successful band.
The songs in Passover is nothing new for those who listened to The Perfect Prescription one too many times, and for those who badly tried to imitate the feedbacks on White Light/White Heat, but the combination of these two major inspirations, plus the drone/meditative feel throughout the music, makes Passover one of the best post-Yoshimi-pre-Yeasayer-neo-psych albums of the decade.