Profiles of artists breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard charts.
June 17, 2008
For the last three weeks, the Black Angels' sophomore "Directions to See a Ghost" has experienced about the same numbers of sales each week as it did when it first hit the shelves. Surprisingly, too, those sales were all made outside of the Big Box system – no Targets, Wal-marts, Best Buys and so on. Peaking thus far at No. 23 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart, the album's sales and popularity is a testament to what the band has garnered over the last three years: a growing, consistent fanbase willing to go out of their way to specialty shops, online retailers and live shows.
"It was a very conscious decision to put this out through independent retailers. They're our type," says vocalist Alex Maas
. The album was released via Light in the Attic. "We work hard targeting people who have the same taste as us, really."
The band at first would try to target fans on MySpace who were into acts in the same vein, like Velvet Underground and Jesus and Mary Chain. But when personally messaging thousands of music lovers became too much work, the fivesome's live show carried them.
The Texas natives have become notorious road dogs, headlining as well as supporting acts like the Smashing Pumpkins and the Black Keys. Changing up the setlist and building on walls of guitar fuzz and pysch-rock structures has kept live performance lovers coming back – and bringing their friends.
The Black Angels' recording history only goes back to 2006, when they released "Passover," a heavy, Doors-like debut full of hypnotic rhythms and melodic lyrical vignettes. "Directions to See a Ghost," which in itself is a VU reference, is as dark and mysterious as it sounds, abounding with more group-oriented tunes. "This new record was born from playing, practicing and constantly creating on road. We had more time to marinade as a band," says Maas. "Because of how our live sound turned out, we recorded trying to stay true to our live sound. I'd say we've definitely grown."
The group – which consists also of drummer Stephanie Bailey, guitarist Christian Bland, organist/keyboardist Jennifer Raines and bassist Nathan Ryan -- is (naturally) on tour through at least the end of July, before taking the stage alongside Radiohead, Kings of Leon and Secret Machines at the All Points West Music Festival in New Jersey on Aug. 8.