Tulip Frenzy #5 Album of 2010: The Black Angels’ “Phosphene Dreams”

If we’d wanted to have fun at the expense of our critical chops, we might list Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Black Dub, and the Black Keys, all of whom had decent albums in 2010, before these guys.  But the best of the black bands were The Black Angels, whose Phosphene Dreams was a revelation.  Earlier Black Angels’ albums have been one-dimensional affairs, and don’t get me wrong, with these guys, sometimes one dimension is enough.  Phosphene Dreams., though, had playfulness in its late ’60s reverb, and not just drones but melodies, and just as a song shaped up in some kind of predictable form, they’d juggle the iPhone and a new shape would appear.  If you were to draw a Venn Diagram and in one bubble had fellow Austinites the 13th Floor Elevators and, say, the Doors in the other, The Black Angels prowl the overlap.  Yes, too much of what they do is still limited by some of the same elements of beat and vocal phrasing, but this isn’t a band that plays outside the box, this is a band that plays outside the dimensions any box might fit in.  They opened for their pals Black Mountain on tour this fall, but this is one time where the opener’s album may have outshined the headliner.

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