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Album Review

by The Brian Jonestown Massacre

A Recordings

Review Date
16 June 2014
Reviewed by
Nich Cunningham

Fourteen albums in, The Brian Jonestown Massacre has featured an evolving line up over its 26-year history. Like a snake shedding its skin, the surface has changed while the core of principal songwriter Anton Newcombe has remained. Now based in Berlin, Newcombe soldiers on with a little help from more recent friends, including ex-HDU drummer Dino Karlis. New album Revelation also sees Newcombe in the role of not only songwriter, but of producer and engineer for the first time.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre's music – as the name suggests – has always been strongly rooted in the 1960's. The hazy psychedelic vibe echoes The Byrds and Love with the occasional nod to Bowie and Lennon. And Revelation finds the band in strong form. Songs like the bullyingly prescriptive 'What You Isn't' have a relentless undulating drive underpinned by horn melodies supporting Newcombe's journeyman musings, and likewise 'Unknown' pulsates with BJM's trademark swagger and melodic soloing. However, the album is not constrained by formula: 'Duck And Cover' brings a Bernard Herrman-esque sci-fi vibe while 'Memory Mix' is likely the closest BJM will get to electronic music. The album closer 'Goodbye (Butterfly)' is curiously reminiscent of sometime-rivals The Dandy Warhols.

Revelation is an excellent album. The smoky tone is relaxing and engaging and the strength of the songwriting is perfectly supported by the music. Fans of the band will no be disappointed. For newcomers, bands with extensive catalogues like the Brain Jonestown Massacre can seem impenetrable, but Revelation is a perfect starting point.

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