Elephant Stone have been on tour for seemingly all of 2017, and now they’ve added more tour dates throughout Europe and North America that go into the winter. They’re playing gigs with the likes of the Black Angels, A Place to Bury Strangers, and the Dream Syndicate. Any of these shows would be well worth your time and money. Here are the dates:
The Black Angels‘ 2014 EP, Clear Lake Forest, is a fine dose of psychedelia and was a great way to get your summer freak on when it was released that year (and still is).
“Sunday Evening” hits you right away with reverb and the lyric “What if I told you that everything you know isn’t even really true?” Christian Bland’s guitar work on it ranges from skronky to trippy, and the song has probably the hottest tambourine work you’ve heard in a long while.
“Tired Eyes” opens with Stephanie Bailey’s always-dependable thunderous drumming and soon spins into a wild track with lead singer Alex Maas and Christian Bland sharing the vocals about someone who seems tired of living in illusion. I may be wrong. The song is so groovy that it seems to pour incense smoke from your speakers, so I may be hallucinating any meaning I’ve assigned to it.
“Diamond Eyes” is downright lovely. Maas’ reverberated vocals, Bland’s spaghetti western guitar, Jake Garcia’s soothing rhythm guitar, Kyle Hunt’s soaring synths, and Bailey’s military-precision beats all gel to become one of the Black Angels’ best tracks.
“The Flop” was the first single off Clear Lake Forest, and it’s easy to understand why. Hunt’s keyboards sound like he’s streaming them from the Doors’ “Soul Kitchen” outtakes. Bailey’s drums hit so hard they may take your lunch money. The bridge plunges you straight down the rabbit hole and doesn’t let you out. “An Occurrence at 4507 South Third Street” is the Black Angels’ second “address” song (the first being “Haunting at 1300 McKinley” from Phosphene Dream). It has a bit of a honky-tonk feel to it (thanks to the snappy beat) and I can’t help but wonder if it’s about another haunting or a murder or suicide that led to the haunting. “The Executioner” is certainly about death (a common theme on Black Angels records). Maas’ lyrics are the clearest on this track (before the freak-out of a bridge, at least). It’s an interesting twist. Maas wants you to know that sin may feel good, but death waits so you’d better get things straight before you meet it.
The closer, “Linda’s Gone,” follows the life of a woman who wants and seeks something beyond her boring life and even the boredom of the illusion around her (and all of us, really). It has all the stuff you like from the Black Angels: tribal drumming, metaphysical lyrics, trance-inducing synths, spacey vocals, and guitar licks that seem to fold in on themselves and then back out into different shapes.
Clear Lake Forest was a solid EP and a great follow-up to their full-length album, Indigo Meadow. Treat yourself to it.
Keep your mind open.
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I will see The Black Angelsor A Place to Bury Strangersat any opportunity, so having them both on the same bill is a win-win and a must-see for me. Seeing them in Chicago’s Thalia Hall was an added bonus because the acoustics there are outstanding and there isn’t a bad place to stand or sit in the joint.
A Place to Bury Strangers were prompt, starting the show at 9:00pm sharp (which seems to be a trend in Chicago venues as of late). They came out as they always do – loud and heavy. They opened with “We’ve Come So Far” from Transfixiation and it was off to the races. The addition of Lia Braswell on drums is a great one, as she practically beat her kit into the floor. Her backing vocals bring a new dimension to many APTBS tracks, and I hope this trend continues on some new material. Guitarist and lead singer Oliver Ackermann was on fire for their whole set.
They ended their set with a wild sequencer / synth / bass / light show that I’d seen them do before in Detroit. They moved into the crowd and were soon casting laser lights and weird, warping synths beats and Dion Lunadon’s growling bass licks throughout the whole hall.
As if that weren’t trippy enough, the Black Angels started their set with this image.
“Take your acid now,” said a friend of mine upon seeing this. The Black Angels opened up with “Currency,” the first single off their new album – Death Song(review coming soon). “Bad Vibrations” (always a favorite) followed, and it again wowed the crowd.
This was the sixth time I’ve seen the Black Angels (and the third I’ve seen APTBS), and this might’ve been the heaviest set I’ve seen by them. My wife (who’s seen them five of the six times with me) noticed this, too. The version of “You On the Run” they played was certainly the heaviest I’d heard. It bordered on stoner metal. Christian Bland’s guitar seemed cranked to 11 in terms of volume and distortion for the entire show. Stephanie Bailey further cemented her prowess as one of the best rock drummers of our time. I say this every time I see the Black Angels live: Stephanie Bailey is their secret weapon. I later realized this was the first show I’d seen in a while in which both bands had powerful drummers.
They played many tracks from the new record. “Half Believing,” “Comanche Moon,” “I Dreamt,” “Medicine,” “Grab As Much As You Can,” and “Death March” all sounded great. They closed with “Young Men Dead,” which made one man behind me so happy that he rushed ahead of me to head-bang and share his one-hitter with the strangers to his left and right.
This made six good shows in a row from the Black Angels and three straight for APTBS in my experience. This tour is selling out across the country, so you’d better get your tickets soon if you want to catch it. I also must give a salute to the two men who make up the Mustachio Light Show. They provided all the wild and stunning visuals during the Black Angels’ set. It’s a great addition to this tour.
Thanks to Oliver Ackermann, Steven Matrick, and Burgers Rana for getting me a press pass to this show. I’ll have an interview with Oliver Ackermann posted soon as well.
The first wave of band announcements includes the Black Angels, Slowdive, Acid Mothers Temple, and Kikagu Moyo. As usual, the Levitation festivals always have a great lineup, and this will be no exception. Get to Angers, France if you can.
Austin, Texas’ psych-rock wizards The Black Angelsare dropping their newest album, Death Song, on April 21st and have announced a spring tour starting in Nashville and ending in Austin. The first single off the new album, “Currency,” is already out and a great listen.
You can find all the tour dates, album pre-sale bundles that include things like T-shirts and posters, and the lyric video for “Currency” here.
It’s hard for me to express how much I love The Black Angels. I first heard them when I downloaded a music compilation that contained their song “Doves.” It was my gateway drug to the psychedelic music renaissance that was going on without my knowledge. I’ve seen them five times since (Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, twice at Levitation Austin) and will see them any chance I get.
They curate the Levitation festival, so they always play the main stage. I will stand in the thunderstorms that might come on April 30th in Austin if I must to see them again.
Keep your mind open.
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