Review: ‘Black Angels’

And if Friday night's bill at the Troubadour, headlined by Austin's Black Angels, is any indication, "The Velvet Underground and Nico" is still teaching bands to play.

It may have been 40 years ago that people first heard about the band that Sgt. Pepper taught to play, but another album is also celebrating its 40-year anniversary: “The Velvet Underground and Nico.” And if Friday night’s bill at the Troubadour, headlined by Austin’s Black Angels, is any indication, that album is still teaching bands to play, and one with enough juice in it to sell out the club and garner interest from major labels.

The Black Angels take their name from one of the Velvet’s noisiest and most demanding tunes. Hourlong set was built around the wailing, sustained feedback that was the Velvet specialty. And the guitars — up to three at any moment — make an impressive racket. They’re buttressed by a rhythm section that’s thunderous but wavery. Stephanie Bailey, the blonde and most glamorous member of the generally shaggy sextet, hits her drums with an unexpected ferocity, but she’s throttled by rubbery basslines. Alex Maas’ lupine vocals give their grandly ominous psychedelia a Texas accent.

While they may have mastered the sound, they haven’t figured out exactly what to do with it. The band is most compelling at its noisiest, but they lack the imagination to sustain a whole set, a sense compounded by their obvious cover of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” The closest the Black Angels come to a song is in their name.

Black Angels

The Troubadour, Los Angeles; 450 capacity; $14


Presented inhouse. Reviewed June 1, 2007.


Band: Stephanie Bailey, Christian Bland, Kyle Hunt, Alex Maas, Jennifer Raines, Nate Ryan.
Also appearing: Viet Nam, Spindrift.
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