By Allana Mayer
Released in April, the appeal of Directions To See A Ghost snuck up on me after a few months of dismissal; I was looking for substance over style, and the Black Angels have tons of the latter but not so much of the former. Not that that’s a bad thing: the sound has an upturned-nose attitude, a gritty, too-cool-for-school style, healthily defiant rather than moodily introspective. The Black Angels are all leather jackets and greased hair and smoking in the boys’ bathroom.
In this world of uncertainty and confusion, when meaning is subjective and fluid, I feel that Directions To See A Ghost most concretely sums up the term “indie-rock” for me. It’s solid rock, dark and brooding yet urgent and passionate. The heavy, prominent basslines scream Stone Roses while the fuzzy lyrics and the deliciously crunchy distortion says Pixies grunge. Psychedelic pedal effects, a tinge of Oriental flavour, and a little bit of 13th Floor Elevators guitar-riffery (and I even hear something like their trademark electric jug noises) round out the sound, but don’t make it psych-rock.
The funny thing about all this attitude is that it actually comes pretension-free — rather than trump up their influences and background, they seem totally childish and naive about the way they sound. I can just see them, in their grotty motel room, ashing on the carpet and slurring out things like “NME can go suck ‘emselves, innit.” (They’re from Texas, but don’t let that fool you.) They sound like they listen to metal but would never admit to it, like Directions To See A Ghost is the sound that should come naturally of teenagers jamming in the garage. Given the sad state of affairs in angry music these days, I can’t help but (belatedly) endorse the notion.