The Black Angels’ Alex Maas Is A True Believer: Jim Sullivan’s “U.F.O.”

Phosphene Dream, the third album from MAGNET faves the Black Angels, marks a big step forward for the Austin, Texas, psych quintet. The band signed to the Blue Horizon label (run by industry bigwigs Richard Gottehrer and Seymour Stein) and worked in L.A. with veteran producer Dave Sardy (Oasis, Rolling Stones), marking the first time the group recorded an LP outside of its home base. The Black Angels also recently upped their profile with a collaborative appearance with UNKLE on the soundtrack to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. (We hear the track, “With You In My Head,” is played at a pivotal scene in the film, but when it comes to movies, we are more Black Swan than Bella Swan.) The band also backed Austin legend Roky Erickson (though the fruit of that labor is still up in the air, release-wise) and is still working hard on its annual Austin Psych Fest. And if that wasn’t enough, the Black Angels will be guest editing all week. Read our brand new Q&A with vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Alex Maas.

Maas: I’ve been listening a lot to an obscure singer named Jim Sullivan, who made a brilliant album called U.F.O. in 1969. The record has this dark haunting vibe that reminds me of the David Axelrod-produced era of the Electric Prunes mixed with the melancholy folk/rock of Fred Neil or Gene Clark of the Byrds. The band on the album is the Wrecking Crew, the Los Angeles session players who backed up everyone from the Beach Boys to Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. Like so many good records, it sunk without a trace as if it never even came out. After cutting the album, Jim had a small part in Dennis Hopper’s film Easy Rider, then mysteriously vanished in New Mexico, never to be heard from again. The theory is that he was probably murdered for being a long-haired hippie in small town America, like Billy and Captain America in Easy Rider. Wrong place, wrong time. There are a number of lyrics on the record that point to his strange disappearance, as if there’s some foreshadowing going on. I recently met Jim’s son Chris, who came to our show in Solana Beach, Calif., when we were touring with Black Mountain.

Video after the jump.

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