6 September 2014

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Revelation

I have difficulties when it comes to BMJ.  Every now and then when I am at parties some of my friends will play one of their tracks and it is one of the best things that I have heard.  Then at times I will find it truly mind numbingly dull and boring.  They are a total mood band for me, meaning if I am not in the right mood I can be a little less than gracious with this band.  That was until their last album 'Aufheben'.  I was truly bowled over by that record (will have to blog about that one as well) and it brought the band's back catalogue to a much more clear focus.  Sometimes you need a record to make sense of what has passed before hand and that is what 'Aufheben' was for me.  Brief back story, formed in 1998 in San Francisco and were part of the shoegazing movement at first.  However as the years have passed they have added more shades to their spectrum of music colour. Will this latest release follow in the footsteps of 'Aufheben' or will it be a step backwards?

To start the album, you have "Vad Hände Med Dem?" which translates to what happened to them from Swedish.  The feel is much very warm and welcoming on this record and unlike some bands that are around; the retro feel of the band is welcoming as they have never been anything other than a retro psychedelic band.  The energy level is constant here and unlike with 'Aufheben', the eastern influence is not on show from the outset.  Second track "What You Isn't" continues the laid back foundations of "Vad Hände Med Dem?" and is another hypnotic psychedelica that has been stuck in my head for days.  Following on is the sub two minutes track called "Unknown", for this one the influence of 60's pioneers Love is fully on display.  It ends before it has a real chance to grow which is not what I usually associate with this band; but maybe they wanted to keep it true to the Love style as they often did that sort of thing (well, at least for song that I like by them).  "Memory Camp" is the fourth song on the album and it slows the full pace of the album down.  With the shoegazing element of the band in full control at this point, it is safe to say that you will drift into your own emotional retreat during this number.  The song is a changeable one for me, depending on the mood depends on if I want to listen to it on repeat or stop it right away.  After this is "Days, Weeks and Moths" and at this point the band have driven the speed into the ground.  There is a much more haunting and a little disturbing in some ways.  I have images of Wild West films floating in my head; it just has that epic feeling that seems to be the calling card of this album.

Next is an instrumental track called "Duck & Cover", it brings the pace back up for the album and with the drifting noises floating around in the background you have an amazing slice of psychedelic rock from a band that can be a real mood changer for me.  "Food For Clouds" is another face to their sound that I can really get into at the moment.  It feels like summer on a record and it brings to mind some very pleasant times already.  The band sounds as if they are on fire at this point and it is a brilliant moment for this album.  "Second Sight" has an almost medieval beginning, starting off with the traditional acoustic guitars and the pipe floating around in the back ground.  It is a quaint little tune, not the best one on the album but decent all the same.  Next is "Memorymix", a high octave piece of indie dance floor filler that should have many a party moving once it has been dropped.  It has an almost drone quality in a way due to the very repetitive nature of the music underneath the basic lyrics which are not the most important part of the song.  All that is important here is the rhythm and the urge to move your body.

"Fist Full Of Bees" is the next track and it does a similar job to "Memorymix" but everything is slowed down; if it went one beat a minute slower it would be monolithic, with the power to cut through solid rock.  It is a decent number, but it does drag a bit by the end of the song.  Eleventh track "Nightbird" is an acoustic driven number which has a beautiful string section laid on top of the strumming and musings of the band.  It is a decent number which perks up the interest a bit after "Fist Full Of Bees", but the interest in definitely on the wane at this point.  "Xibalba" is the penultimate track of the record and has a bit more of a good time feeling about it.  Bringing to mind similar themes that have been explored on this album, the repetitive nature of the band is being exposed and it has been bugging me through most of the album; yet it still sounds very professional.  Ending the album is "Goodbye (Butterfly)" which starts off slowly, but soon builds up a head of steam with the fast bass playing and drumming which makes the droning guitars sounds like horns being played; bring this album to an interesting close.

This album is a decent recorded that was self produced by the band (as a lot of their records are).  Because of the nature of the record, it is very free flowing and a lot of pieces share themes.  However, due to this there is also a few of the songs which could have been left off the record and it feels a little bloated in places.  I understand that the nature of shoegazing and psychedelic rock is to be repetitive and looping, but a few of these numbers could have been reduced in length which would have improved the end result.  Also whilst it has a few stunning phases, it is not as exciting as 'Aufheben'; it is a case of less would have been more on this record.  So whilst it is a good record, it is not a great one. File under; needs someone to edit it outside the band.

7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - Food For Clouds

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the BJM website here

Here is a link to the band's Soundcloud page

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

If you’re a Deezer user, here is a link for you

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