Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Don’t Play With Guns” by The Black Angels from the 2013 album Indigo Meadow on Blue Horizon.
Formed in 2004, Austin’s The Black Angels craft thick, psychedelic rock burners that incorporate both the musky heat and the garage-sensibilities of their hometown. Named after the Velvet Underground tune “The Black Angel’s Death Song”, the band’s intense live performance and sludge and reverb-drenched sound brought the group local attention at SXSW 2006 before they released their debut album, Passover. By 2008, the group had gained enough momentum to host their own festival (Austin Psych Fest), and, along with Deerhunter, continued tour and record as one of the country’s most reliable psychedelic outfits. Helmed by St. Vincent and Explosions In The Sky producer John Congleton, the group’s fourth album, Indigo Meadow, is a tighter, punchier version of the Black Angels sound than their live performances, but no less hazy. Indigo Meadow’s first single, “Don’t Play With Guns”, is an uptempo, crunchy number that lets its murky atmospherics attack rather than simmer. Driven by Stephanie Bailey’s propulsive beat, singer Alex Maas lists off tales of women who live life on the edge, rallying his stories around the titular lyrics in the chorus. “Don’t Play With Guns” shows that The Black Angels have another mode besides “heady”, and when they pull out their garage rock roar, the result is even more sinister than the war-themed narratives of their early work.
The Black Angels are currently on the road behind Indigo Meadow, and they’ll stop in Seattle for a show at the Neptune Theatre on May 13. Get tickets and more info on that show here, and keep up with the band at their website and Facebook. Below, watch the band play “Telephone” live for KEXP at the Triple Door in 2010.