On ‘Revelation,’ Brian Jonestown Massacre Kills It

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Say this much for Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe – for a man renowned for playing the jabbering man-beast to the hilt, his is a remarkably stable and productive talent. Every new album inches this ex-hellbrat closer to a niche in the rock pantheon and further dims memory of the extraordinary 2004 documentary Dig!, which put the more pungent aspects of a mercurial personality on full slavering ” target=”_blank”>view. Today, in a pop hellscape dominated by borrowed hubris, low-rent gotchas, racist cosplay and .00001% cluelessness, Anton now looks every (other) inch a rockist elder statesman. And on Revelation,BJM’s fourteenth album, sounds it.

Anton allegedly fought shy of releasing this set.”It’s taken me months to feel comfortable enough to let them go,” he told Louder Than War. A few seconds into the punchy, hard-charging “Vad Hande Med Dem?”, such scruples seem as quaint as grampaw’s Quaaludes. The album resolves itself into a nicely edgy romp through monochromatic retro-psychedelia, veering from Syd Barrett-like whimsy (“Unknown”) to Scott Walker sleepwalking (“Memory Camp”) to Eric Burdon-style soul ranting (“Day, Weeks and Moths”) to Swervedriver streamlined propulsion (“Duck and Cover”), with rolling sideswipes into New Romantic brooding and the Bruce Haack school of sonic robotics. It’s one long thrill ride until “Goodbye (Butterfly)” drops the listener off in a  pale paisley soundscape, wondering how in hell (s)he got there. You can’t ask for much more in 2014.

Revising and extending rock’s ancient impulses remains Brian Jonestown Massacre’s principal stock-in-trade. Revelation is neither Americana nor roots rock nor chamber exercise, but further kickass refinement of a not-quite-dead tradition. Fans who dote on Bill Clinton-era music and still yet hoard Nineties rock CDs will weep like Edward G. Robinson confronted by a strip of rare steak in the movie Soylent Green well before the final track slides out of the speakers. This is music the jerk at the office party swears isn’t being made by anyone any more. Leave this poor idiot to his fading memories and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

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