It was 10 years ago today in April 2006, when The Black Angels released their debut album. In the time since it was released, we’ve seen them rise and the spread to become of one of the biggest bands to come out of Texas. They’ve accomplished so much, for not only themselves, but for so many others in the music scene. They’ve taken their hard work and their success, and started a record label. They also started a festival, that’s gone from a small little get together with friends, to a massive three day (and more, if you include the pre-festivities) event. Their long arm of inspiration reaches around the globe and it continues to this day. The Black Angels, the band that added the fuel to the fire that they may not have built, but certainly had a hand in spreading.
In our personal music journeys, there are always points you can look back on and say, “that changed my life”. Some of the many for me, include the Rolling Stones when I was a wee little lad. And Jimi Hendrix when I was about 11. Nirvana when I was about 14. And I remember the first time I heard the Black Angels, and was totally blown away. It was late summer 2005. Scouring around Myspace, digging into bands here and there, from all over the US and beyond, I came across this band out of Austin. I played the handful of songs over and over and over. I was totally taken over, I had to hear more. It started something in me. I was even more obsessed to find more bands. Sure I had already been dabbling here with bands like The Brian Jonestown Massacre but this just really kicked the door down. It led me to a lot of places and to a lot of bands I may not have heard of otherwise. The Black Angels opened my eyes to another side of music.
Here was a band, that believed deeply in what they were doing, and were working their collective asses off to be heard. They hand made basically everything: the shirts, the CDs, the posters. It was truly inspiring. This was back before some of the things we take for granted now, there was no Bandcamp or Soundcloud. Myspace was huge for bands like them. I loved their music, and seeing that work ethic just solidified a life long love affair. They deserve every bit of success they get, because they earned every single bit of it.
After discovering them in August, a couple months later in November of 2005, I got to see them live at 7th Street Entry here in Minneapolis with about 25-50 other people (it seemed most were there to see the opening local bands). About three months later, they returned to a little bigger crowd, and then about four months later they returned again, to an almost sold out crowd. The buzz was growing. Each time I went, I brought a couple more people. I think every other person was doing the same thing but there was a bigger thing to have happened between that second and third show.
April 2006 the band's debut album Passover was officially released. Released on Light in the Attic Records, it was 10 (11 if you include the hidden track) songs of awesomeness. Front to back, one of the best debut albums to ever be released. From the opening guitar of "Young Men Dead" and Alex singing out “fire for the hills, pick up your feet and let’s go”, to the closing track "Call to Arms" (with the “hidden” track at the end, a modernized cover of "Vietnam" by Jimmy Cliff). It was, and still is to this day...EPIC.
If you are like me, you probably have a lot of memories and meaning attached to each and every song. I still remember a beautiful April spring day shortly after the album was released andS driving around on a lunch break blaring "Black Grease" with the windows down. What a song, one that makes you feel like a bad motherfucker. Or how lyrics, like “the trees can’t grow without the sun in their eyes, and we can’t live if we are too afraid to die” still sends shivers throughout.
I can still put this album on and it’s just as good, if not better, than the first, fiftieth or thousandth time I heard it. From the insanely wonderful drumming of Stephanie’s, to all the spaced out, fuzzed out guitar work of Christian, to the amazing vocals of Alex. We can’t forget Nate Ryan and Jennifer Rains adding in their important touches as well. All in all, the stars aligned when they recorded this. But I know I’m probably not adding anything that you all haven’t felt or know already. It’s just fucking amazing, right?
And here we are, 10 years later, and the band has released four full length albums, and four EPs as well. They have helped inspire, not just other bands and musicians, but each and every one of us. They inspired the hell out of me, and I don’t play. But I love music more then anyTHING in this world. I know I wouldn’t be writing this right now. I don’t know if I would be writing about music, period. Passover changed music...it’s path...it’s meaning...and I’m here to give them a heartfelt THANK YOU.
- Nathan J Barrett