The Black Angels – Clear Lake Forest EP

Last year’s full length Indigo Meadow wasn’t Austin psychedelic rockers The Black Angels’s most consistent work. Melodies fell flat on their faces, themes were cheap, and mid-tempo wanderings were corny but not self-aware. It was quite a few paces away from the 1960s inspired rebel yelling reverb and drone of their debut, Passover, and the fuzzy sludge riffs of Directions to see a Ghost and Phosphene Dream.

        Clear Lake Forest is 28 minutes of what Indigo Meadow could have been. Flower power tributes don’t have repeating 1960s heavy rocker drums that give off vibes of writer’s block. Instead, we get tastes of blues smoothly gear changed into punchier flower power rock. “Sunday Evening” and “Tired Eyes” open up like this, but the fuzz gets murkier on “Diamond Eyes”, one of the standout tracks from the seven-track purchase.

        “The Flop” and “The Occurrence At 4507 South Third Street” remind us that the Angels have a deranged acid victim ready to jump on the organ at their call. There is a strong sense of melody stumbling through these tracks, bringing them to life only briefly. It’s something that The Black Angels has struggled with throughout their entire career; constant revival attempts of various blues, psych and garage rock combinations that don’t shine with a layer of particular interest.

        “Linda’s Gone” is a classic six-minute drone of tremolo picked meandering, dictated by haunting vocals. There just isn’t anything special or exciting about it, and while this EP is a slight improvement on the floundering of last year’s full length, it unfortunately isn’t anything unique, or new for that matter.

Kyle Redman