The sultry neo-psychedelic sound of the Black Angels came together in spring 2004. Hailing from Austin, Texas, they initially comprised Stephanie Bailey (drums), Christian Bland (guitar), Alex Maas (vocals), Jennifer Raines (organ), and Nathan Ryan (bass), and took their name from a Velvet Underground classic, "The Black Angel's Death Song." The band's self-titled debut EP was released in late 2005. After a string of North American dates in winter 2006, they readied themselves for a performance at the annual South by Southwest Music Conference in March. Their first couple of full-length albums -- April 2006's Passover and April 2008's Directions to See a Ghost -- were both, in the main, recorded at Erik Wofford's Austin, Texas-based Cacophony Recorders, a studio also used by other local and notable indie rock acts such as White Denim and Voxtrot. By the time the second record was issued, Raines had been replaced by multi-instrumentalist Kyle Hunt and the Black Angels were beginning to create a name for themselves on the live circuit among fans of '60s-inspired psych rock.
In late 2008, they performed as the backing band for former 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson on a series of dates across the West Coast of the U.S. In 2010, they recorded a couple of collaborative tracks with UNKLE, one of which -- "With You in My Head" -- appeared on the soundtrack to that summer's multi-million-grossing The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. This large-scale exposure led to their third album, September 2010's Phosphene Dream, becoming something of a breakthrough record when it hit the Top 50 of the Billboard chart immediately following its release. Its companion piece, the Phosgene Nightmare EP, arrived in 2011, and in 2012, following Ryan's departure, Rishi Dhir of Elephant Stone became an auxiliary bandmember, filling in on guitar and occasionally bolstering their live sound with sitar. Released in 2013, Indigo Meadow was produced and mixed by Grammy-nominated fellow Texan John Congleton, and that release was soon followed by its own companion EP, April 2014's Clear Lake Forest. As the band busied themselves with live work and helping to organize the increasingly popular Texas music gathering the Austin Psych Fest (later renamed Reverberation), four years passed before the group released their next album, although the band didn't lie dormant during that time. They contributed to Britain's Fuzz Club Records split-single series, providing the A-side "Molly Moves My Generation" to Sonic Jesus' B-side "Lost Reprise" in 2014. The following year they contributed "Waterloo Waltz" to Scion Audio Visual's Riley Hawk: Northwest Blow Out EP.
2017 saw the release of Death Song, which ranked with the Black Angels' heaviest work to date, and unveiled a new lineup, with longtime members Stephanie Bailey, Christian Bland, and Alex Maas joined by Jake Garcia (guitar, bass, and vocals) and Kyle Hunt (bass, guitar, and keyboards). ~ MacKenzie Wilson & James Wilkinson