New Music: The Black Angels - Phosphene Dream & Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart

I remember back in 2001 when The Strokes debut album and The White Stripes third album were taking the indie music world by storm that someone claimed that these bands (The Hives and The Vines were lumped in with those two as well) were sparking the return of Rock music. That seemed funny to me because: 1. Rock music had never left and 2. Those bands aren't what I'd necessarily classify as "rock" music. Either way, if the title of the "Return of Rock" didn't apply then, now might be a more apt time to throw that out there with new albums from The Black Angels and Black Mountain.

First off is the third album from Austin, TX natives The Black Angels. Equal parts The Doors, The Velvet Underground and even Black Sabbath, The Black Angels are showing themselves to be the best of the recent pack of bands reviving late 60's rock music. Their debut album, Passover, was an absolutely epic affair and if you haven't heard this band yet, I recommend starting there.

The second album left me wanting more until I got an early copy of their third album, Phosephene Dream. Although there will be no mistaking who this band is once the first track starts, the band has switched it up on the new album more than they have before. Where as the first two albums are packed full with heavy, drone-filled goodness, the new album branches into pop territory as well. Songs like 'Yellow Elevator #2' and 'Sunday Afternoon' contain some serious pop sensibilities never touched on before by The Black Angels. Anyone worried that the band is loosing their edge just need to listen to 'Entrance Song' or 'River of Blood' to know that this band still has Sabbath running through their veins.

A band that I've always felt were kindred spirits to The Black Angels are the Vancouver outfit Black Mountain. Black Mountain also just released their third album, titled Wilderness Heart, which contains what may be my favorite album cover of the year (see above). While both bands certainly recall Black Sabbath, Black Mountain has never really utilized drone in their tunes like The Black Angels have.

Black Mountain frontman Stephen McBean is involved with so many other side projects, it's a wonder how he can put out a new Black Mountain album so quickly after the last one. I won't complain too much though as Black Mountain might have released their most cohesive album yet.

Although the ultra-heavy riffs found on the debut seem to be missing for the most part on Wilderness Heart, that doesn't mean that the album is boring. In fact, the first single 'Old Fangs' is one of the best rock songs put out in 2010. This is another fantastic album that you should pick up to get your rock n roll fix.


Not only have both of these bands put out two of the better rock albums of 2010 on the same day, but they are also on tour together. No stops in KC or Lawrence currently, but the rumor mill is swirling about the tour being extended and a stop in Lawrence being added in December. Nothing would make me happier as I've seen both bands separately and they melt faces. If any local show announcement is made, you'll read about it here.


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