Ever since psychedelic rock began, its combination of effects-laden guitars, heavy drums, and echoed vocals, once the most forward-thinking of mixtures, has seemed more and more tethered to a specific time in the past, even as plenty of good bands have mined it and even extended it stylistically. Austin quintet The Black Angels are canny bricoleurs of that continuum, and on Directions To See A Ghost, they either stretch out or stick to basics. They're good at it, too, even as they bring to mind specific antecedents and peers: The eight-and-a-half-minute "Never/Ever" resembles a cross between early Sonic Youth (rumbling tom-toms, doomy vibe) and latter-day Clinic (needling vocals, needling organ), and SY crops up again on "The Return," in which Alex Maas' vocals recall Lee Ranaldo's. It's kind of samey, sure—but in a formalist genre, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
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