Sound — 8
The Black Angels were originally formed in 2004, naming their band after a Velvet Underground song, as well as taking a picture of Nico as their "band logo." Since then they've been cranking out some seriously psychedelic music - that includes 4 full-length albums and 4 EPs, counting this release. The band has also had quite a bit of success being included in movie, television and sporting event soundtracks (which is a little odd for psychedelic music). "Clear Lake Forest" is the band's fourth EP, and comes just a short year after their last full length release, "Indigo Meadow." There are 7 tracks on this EP, and the entire EP has a full runtime of approximately 27 minutes.
The EP opens with the track "Sunday Evening" with a simplistic riff and a tambourine. There is a lot of creative use of chorus, delay and reverb. "Tired Eyes" is a fairly heavy song for the band, opening with a driving percussion part and some distorted guitar. The plaintive lyrics make the song a complete package. "Diamond Eyes" is based around a tremolo-effected riff on the guitar and liberal use of an organ. The song also has a pretty catchy vocal melody. "The Flop" seems like it should be the soundtrack to the action sequence in a spy movie, with go-go dancers and lava lamps galore. "The Occurrence at 4507 South Third Street" has an almost country music feel to it, somehow, but mixed strongly with psychedelia. "The Executioner" has a kind of slow grooving pace to it, and it definitely grew on me after listening to the album a few times. "Linda's Gone" opens up with shakers and other percussion and the guitar riffing comes in with some "doo da doo" background vocals. It is one of the darkest songs on the EP by far when the rest of the lyrics come in, but a good track to close out on.
Lyrics — 8
Christian Bland, Alex Maas and Jake Garcia provide vocals on the album. A very large portion of the vocals on the album have reverb-drenched harmonized backing vocals. The style of vocals work really well for the context of this band and EP, but that isn't to say they are GREAT vocalists by any means - it just works well for this album. I personally sometimes prefer vocalists in slightly deeper vocal ranges, but this grew on me pretty quick.
The lyrics themselves tell stories but stray in and out of the abstract and surreal. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are some from the closing track, "Linda's Gone": "Now Linda had a dream a couple of years ago/ about moving to the city streets/ she was a server for a serpent/ her lips became a purpose/ mental halitosis for real/ now Linda's gone and she's moving on/ now Linda's gone and she's moving on/ well they had this change a little while ago/ the city was a deadly dream/ her ego was a choker, her partners were all jokers/ for years she turned into a fiend/ now Linda's gone and she's moving on/ now Linda's gone and she's moving on/ Ole Linda's heart changed a couple of weeks ago/ transition was never her thing/ she was a lonely little loafer/ who always was a smoker/ started breathing at age thirteen/ now Linda's gone and she's moving on/ now Linda's gone but she's moving on."
Overall Impression — 8
The quickest way I could explain The Black Angels for someone who hasn't heard them would be to say they sound like bizarre surf music. That isn't a bad thing, as this actually comes across as something relatively fresh considering it is copying a style that is roughly half a century old. By far, my favorites from the album would have to be "The Flop," "The Executioner" and "Linda's Gone." The album from start to finish works pretty well as it is, though. I would definitely recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of classic psychedelic music, or possibly even modern bands like Little Barrie and The Black Keys.