So imagine my surprise (spoiler: none) when I realized many of my favorite albums from 2013 were loathed by better-paid critics. But because they're completely wrong and I'm completely right, (Objectivity? What the fuck is that? You're in the wrong place, buster.) I present to you "Four 2013 Albums Everyone Else Hated That I Loved." Okay, yeah, sure, "everyone" is hyperbole, but it's at least enough people to matter. There's no reason for you read this bullshit except maybe you also neglected these albums and would like to learn more? I don't know! Feed that Fear of Missing Out and turn the page!
Indigo Meadow - Black Angels (Blue Horizon)What the Critics Said: 4.9/10 - "[W]hat's initially thrilling about these Texas psych-rockers gets run through a loop that quickly turns monotonous, then tedious, and finally deadening. Indigo Meadow, is more of the same ... they resemble a knuckle-dragging garage-rock band from the LBJ years now more than ever." Pitchfork 2.5/5 - "The band's fourth album flirts intermittently with heaviness without ever risking metal; suggests spaciness without ever blasting into the stratosphere . . . It's a pleasant-enough swirl . . . But it never expands your mind." - Rolling Stone 6/10 - "[A]fter the first few listens to Indigo Meadow, there's a nagging suspicion The Black Angels may have developed a case of writer's block . . . suffers as a whole from both a lack of cohesion and ultimately, quality." - Drowned In Sound
My Small Voice in a Sea of Cynicism: Maybe, like me, The Black Angels have taken you to places you can't really articulate, landscapes nearly impossible for others who haven't visited to understand. And maybe this new direction for the band, this dip away from protracted entheogenic corkscrews and toward cursory pop-rock jams, has frustrated you. I feel ya if you think Indigo Meadow is just kicking the tires on Phosphene Dream's lackluster attempt at a radio hit, "Telephone," a serious low-point on that 2010 release.
The problem with that attitude is it doesn't allow a band to take its progression into its own hands. Many folks I know turned their nose up at Arcade Fire's Reflektor for the same reason -- it didn't sound familiar. But maybe that's a good thing. I applaud any artist that undermines what built their fame in search of something new. In these cases you have to separate the past from the present. Directions to See a Ghost will always be there, same as it always was, and realizing that will prevent you from missing out on an actually decent album.
Admittedly, Indigo Meadow isn't radically different from The Black Angels' previous albums, but this energetic abbreviation still has application. These guitars can still shred you to ribbons on tracks like "Evil Things" and "War on Holiday" and the introspection on "Holland" and "Black Isn't Black" was worth a visit. No, this won't ever be my favorite Black Angels album, but there still isn't one worth hating.