I think it’s cool that The Ghost Wolves end an album full of rage with a sweet wink and a joke. Long may they howl.
other for launching the modern-day “psychedelic rock” movement. But unlike many bands who claim that description, The Black Angels actually live up to both the psychedelic and the rock sides of the equation. Often, so-called psychedelic rock is too spacey, with annoyingly meandering noodling. Or it’s so fey and precious it makes Donovan look like Randy “Macho Man” Savage — and makes me want to whack a hobbit in the head with a shovel. But The Black Angels — even back in their early days, when they were fond of 14-minute sound odysseys — have a tough sound that has never fallen into those traps. Like the best groups of the original psychedelic daze, the Angels’ reverb-drenched garage-rock roots are always apparent. Their heads may be in some bizarre dimension, but their feet are on the ground.
There are lots of solid rockers on this album. One of my favorites has a not very peace-and-love title: “I’d Kill for Her.” The guitars scream while Alex Maas sings a tale of love and death: “She was so loaded/And mesmerizing/I had to follow/Her black horizon/No, I will not kill for her again.” Even stronger is “Hunt Me Down,” with its thunderous brontosaurus beat, while the bouncy “Grab as Much (As You Can)” — was this inspired by our current president? — has a bass line similar to the Beatles’ “Taxman” and an ending that might have been inspired by “A Day in the Life.” Meanwhile, “Comanche Moon,” which concerns the genocide of the American Indian, starts out with a Byrds-y folk-rock guitar hook that soon yields to an Allmans-esque “Whipping Post” riff.
Velvet Underground fans will immediately catch the significance of the album’s title — though nothing on this record sounds like the folkish, Dylan-influenced “The Black Angel’s Death Song” from the Velvets’ debut. The final two tracks here seem to be a nod to it, though. “Death March” sounds like a descent into the underworld, with drums that suggest the band is ready for battle. Maas’ voice sounds downright ghostly. The final tune is a six-minute dirge called “Life Song,” which may be closer to Pink Floyd than The Black Angels have ever come before. Enter the dimension of The Black Angels at www.theblackangels.com. ▼ BBQ by Mark Sultan. This is the latest solo album by Canadian Mark Sultan, a one-man band who is also half of the two-man band known as The King Khan & BBQ Show. He plays guitar and drums (via foot pedal) at the same time. But Sultan’s real strength is his soaring voice. While a number of the better-known one-man outfits with roots in the punk racket play a hopped-up version of the blues, Sultan’s best songs are rooted in doo-wop and/or early soul. Right now my favorite on this album is “Rock Me,” in which he makes a credible stab at being the best living Sam Cooke impersonator. Smell the BBQ at www.intheredrecords.com/collections/ mark-sultan.