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Brian Jonestown Massacre | And This Is Our Music | review | rock | Lollipop

The Brian Jonestown Massacre

...And This Is Our Music (Tee Pee)
by Brian Varney

It seems that whenever I listen to this band, someone in the room eventually gets around to asking "So what's the deal with that Anton guy?" Not much is known of Mr. Newcombe, other than the fact that he's the only constant in this ever-changing, ever-prolific entity, and that he sings of heartbreak and drug addiction in a fake English accent. Not much to build an image, but the fact that people regularly make such inquiries is some sorta testament to the power of his self-mythologizing.

Of course, none of this would make even the slightest bit of difference if The Brian Jonestown Massacre didn't come up with some pretty damn good music now and then. I wasn't too fond of their last long-player, 2001's Bravery, Noise and Repetition, but they released several rather terrific albums in the mid to late-'90s, so I was hoping for a nice return to form here, and I got it.

...And This Is Our Music is a very low-key affair, pretty songs packed to the gills with hushed vocals, lightly-strummed acoustic guitars, understated strings, unintrusive synth blips, and short, light washes from the drumkit. If song titles like "Prozac vs. Heroin," "A New Low in Getting High," and "You Look Great When I'm Fucked Up" are any indication of content, Newcombe has not strayed very far from the above-mentioned themes. Me, I don't pay attention to lyrics much, but a song like "Here To Go" sure makes you feel like you're staring at the couch cushions strewn about the living room while nodding out, stewing in the repressed self-loathing created by a pile of used syringes and too many Leonard Cohen LPs. It's perhaps my favorite song on the disc.

How to describe the band's sound is another, more challenging affair. When people think of this band, I suppose they think of them as a psych band, but I don't get much of that from this album. Another obvious comparison to make, for the name alone, is to The Rolling Stones, but it's not really valid in relation to the music here, either. The band's sound on ...And This Is Our Music is pretty tough to pinpoint, but the slower, statelier moments, such as "Prozac vs. Heroin" and "Here to Go," make me think of the quiet moments on the mid-period Pink Floyd albums, the same general terrain the Warlocks squatted in while making the Rise and Fall LP. Those are among my favorite Floyd moments, and I love that Warlocks album, so it's practically a lock that I'll dig this, and I do. It's pretty, it's well-crafted, and it's equally appropriate accompaniment for a drugged-out Saturday night and the laid-back Sunday morning that follows.
(PO Box 20307 New York, NY 10009)


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