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Brian Jonestown Massacre | We Are the Radio | review | rock | Lollipop

The Brian Jonestown Massacre

We Are the Radio (Tee Pee)
By Brian Varney

My initial reaction to We Are the Radio was one of surprise. I haven't heard every Brian Jonestown Massacre record, but I've heard a bunch, and this is the first one I've heard where main songwriter/acknowledged bandleader Anton Newcombe doesn't do the majority of the singing. The main voice on these five songs belongs to a female, a newcomer as far as I know, and one not identified on the packaging. A BJTM newcomer is hardly an unusual experience (there've been somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 members over the band's lifespan), and while previous personnel shifts haven't drastically altered the band's sound, the new voice is a pretty big change. It isn't until the third song, "Time Is Honey (So Cut the Shit)," that we hear Anton's voice and we begin to feel we're on steady ground again.

Once you get over the new vocalist, though, you realize the songs themselves are firmly within the BJTM continuum. The electronics that began to creep in on the band's last full-length, ...And This Is Our Music, feature on "Seer," and a track like the awkwardly-titled "Never Become Emotionally Attached to Man, Woman, Beast or Child" brings to mind the same picture of a mentally disturbed hippie that you'd get from listening to a track from an early BJTM release. You've got the same jangly guitars and unidentified but vaguely Eastern-sounding drones in the background, and the selection of guitars and amps gives everything a pleasantly vintage sound, even when there's a drum machine. Newcombe's interest in the dark side of the so-called peace and love years at the end of the 1960s and the rock bands that were breaking rules and expanding consciousness (the Rolling Stones are an obvious influence, but also bands like Love, the Seeds, the 13th Floor Elevators, and a whole other host of great bands with crazy frontmen) seems to be a life's work, so the fact that We Are the Radio reflects these interests should not surprise.


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