Thursday, May 31, 2012

2012 Albums You May Have Missed

Right now is a great time to be a indie music journalist. Every week brings a flood of new music from great artists, only to be washed away by a fresher flood of newer releases before you can fully digest the last album you heard.  Even people who make a living off of staying on top of new music can miss great albums, buried under the piles of CDs and MP3s waiting to be listened to and reviewed.
Now, I think of myself as being pretty knowledgeable about indie music and what’s getting released when. So you can imagine my shock when I heard there was a new Brian Jonestown Massacre album out, Aufheben. Released May 1, it took me till just now to find out about it (which is crazy because I’m a big BJM fan, much like most people who’ve seen Dig!).

The Brian Jonestown Massacre Aufheben (A Records)
Did YOU know Anton and the BJM had a new album out? Neither did I. But they do, and it’s their best album in years. Matt Hollywood is back together with troubled genius Anton Newcombe for a trip back to an alternate universe where The Rolling Stones became emperors of the world and the earth’s atmosphere is now comprised of 35% marijuana smoke.
The album is classic BJM. Matt Hollywood’s return to the band has brought the Massacre back to its beloved roots. Hollywood and Newcombe churn out swelling, psychadelic rock in a garage built over a native American burial ground, adjacent to a trans-dimensional portal straight into God’s seventh brain. Newcomers to the Jonestown sound will find psychedelic riffs fitting into layered, mesmerizing beats, joined by sitars, flutes and anything else Newcombe feels like throwing into the rhythmic stew. Try “Panic In Babylon,” “I Want To Hold Your Other Hand,” and “Face Down On The Moon” to start; they’re all representative of what you’ll hear on the album. “Stairway To The Best Party In The Universe” sounds like it was sent here into the future by some Vietnam-era time experiment conducted with Jim Morrison’s DNA and a clipping of Keith Richard’s hair. The album flows melodically from start to finish, ending with the overly long “Blue Order/New Monday.” It’s a track that starts out with the sound of space whales before taking you on a seven-minute odyssey. The song sounds a bit like two different songs intersecting at different angles; a pleasant jumble that ends the album in a heap of luscious confusion.  This is a great overall album and worthy of eartime for BJM fans and newcomers alike.

After listening to Aufheben over and over, I got to thinking about other great albums that get lost in the shuffle, eclipsed by the hype bands and the new flavor of the week fare. Many are quick to move on to whatever’s new, that we end up missing out on great music just because they don’t catch it the week it’s released. website

it appears that all of our uk shows have sold out except for this one.

be sure to see cate le bon!

in other news around the web:
(people in australia speculate on my redbull intake)

Sobriety has made a hell of a difference to the way Brian Jonestown Massacre perform. Two and a half years ago the American rockers played at tonight’s venue, and Sydney was treated to a solely Red Bull-fueled version of frontman Anton Newcombe. It really was quite a revelation: Newcombe and co-songwriter Matt Hollywood seemed shockingly amicable, and there was a genuine fondness exuded from the stage down to those of us on the floor. Tonight was a similar affair, augmented by the longevity of Newcombe’s clean lifestyle, a married man living in Berlin.

Posted: June 2nd, 2012 under Brag 464 (May 28), Live Reviews, Music.
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MUSIC REVIEW: The Brian Jonestown Massacre/The Dandy Warhols

Dandy Warhols dropped by Manchester Academy in April while Brian Jonestown Massacre will hit the HMV Ritz on the 8th July. In the meantime, GARETH HUGHES weighs up which one of them is worth listening to for more than one night:
Way back in early 2004, a documentary DVD called Dig! was released documenting the various shenanigans of The Dandy Warhols, then riding high on the ‘We Used To Be Friends’ single and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, even at that point virtual unknowns.
The accuracy of the film was debated at the time by basically everyone who ended up in front of the camera, but it’s amusingly appropriate that eight years down the line they’ve each released 11-track long new albums within a month of each other.
As each band settles into middle age that rivalry – at times friendly, at times less so – has long since passed and finally we can concentrate on the music again, probably like we should’ve been doing all along.
So how do their new albums measure of against each other in 2012? On This Machine, the Warhols have chosen to go for an oddly stripped down and po-faced approach, neither of which they are particularly known for.
To most people the Warhols are known for the thick, ironically commercialised ‘Bohemian Like You’ song and video, dripping with sarcasm, a sound that the band wore well. Almost all of This Machine ends up sounding dreadfully thin, loping along on swollen, shrugging basslines that shamble into view and then give up.
None of this is helped by an absolutely serious (and absolutely terrible) cover of ’16 Tons,’ a song once given gravitas by Johnny Cash’s reading but that might have made some semblance of sense at the height of the recession and if given a more eye-rolling treatment.
By contrast, the Massacre’s Aufheben is on many levels a joy to listen to, and not just because of song titles as punbelievable as ‘Blue Order New Monday.’
The production is kaleidoscopic, sun-soaked but pleasingly rough around the edges. Ever since frontman Anton Newcombe dreamt up the idea of playing Rolling Stones circa-Beggars Banquet type tunes with a Spacemen 3 drone vibe, he’s never truly let go of that idea. The newly relaxed and several-years-sober Newcombe invests everything here with a chilled out mood where the Warhols sound simply airless.
What Aufheben lacks, though, is a standout track, and while as an album This Machine is an airless folly, the truly soaring, anthemic ‘Rest Your Head’ is a truly stunning track, one of the finest songs you’ll hear all year. A watery, twanging guitar descends down the neck over a loping drumbeat as Courtney Taylor-Taylor basically sings the overriding vibe of Newcombe’s album – ‘Don’t you worry until tomorrow.’
Aufheben is by far the better album over all as a listening experience, but it’s worth getting This Machine as well, as a sort of companion piece but also because ‘Rest Your Head’ is so wonderful a song that it’s worth the entrance fee.
Aufheben - 7/10
This Machine - 3/10

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - 'Aufheben' Brian Jonestown Massacre Tickets

Their best album since 2003's ‘…And This Is Our Music’
The Brian Jonestown Massacre - 'Aufheben'

Album Info

  • Release Date: May 7, 2012
  • Label: A Records
  • Fact: Anton Newcombe told NME: "I feel like I am on the crossroads of creating an epic soundtrack for film, so in a word, ['Aufheben' sounds] cinematic."
8 / 10 Nearly 10 years since the infamous documentary DIG!, The Brian Jonestown Massacre continue to plough their whimsical psychedelic furrow. Mainman Anton Newcombe is now sober, and here has made his best album since 2003’s ‘…And This Is Our Music’. Cohorts include Will Carruthers (ex-Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized) and returning member Matt Hollywood (last seen storming offstage in DIG!), who sings one of the highlights, the fantastically titled ‘I Want To Hold Your Other Hand’. The album title is more appropriate, though, German for contradictory meanings: either ‘abolish’ or ‘preserve’. On this evidence, it’s the latter.

Nathaniel Cramp
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The Humans Are Dead

Anton Newcombe, the maniac at the helm of controversial psychedelic rock bohemians The Brian Jonestown Massacre, talks to Chris Yates about his new album, Aufheben, aliens destroying the human race and DJs that he’s glad are dead.
Anton Newcombe – the legendary frontman of one of rock music’s most interesting outfits of recent years – is in an unexpectedly jovial mood as he answers the phone from Germany. It’s early in the morning in Berlin, but still, he’s surprisingly with it and ready to rant.
“I read an article in The Economist,” he starts, explaining what the title of the new album, Aufheben, is all about and already contradicting the image of the drug-addled vagabond he’s often laughably portrayed as. “It talked about this German word that meant to destroy something in order to revere it and rebuild it. Germany has this word, because of their history over the last hundred years, so they have had to destroy their history and culture in order to build it back up again.
“I wanted this idea like you know how they sent out this record into space and it has all this music on it, like The Beatles and all this music that’s for the aliens to find or whoever – well I like the idea of just sending out a plaque with the pictures of the humans on it (he’s referring to the cover of Aufheben – a Carl Sagan diagram from The Voyager program), and it just says this one word, to let them know that in order to understand or preserve the human race, they’re gonna have to destroy it first.”
Trying to coerce aliens into destroying the human race – that’s more like it!
The album itself is one of the strongest of BJM’s career, built from the ground up around solid drum beats and heavy bass lines that Newcombe says were just the result of him fucking around in the studio, not really knowing where to start.
“Wow, that’s so amazing that you came to that from listening to it, because that’s absolutely how it came together. I don’t go into a studio with ideas ready to record, I just get in there and see what happens. So we’d been in the studio for three days and there were all these people who were in there with me and I had nothing. I was coming up with nothing. So then I was like, you know, I just got on the drums, and I would watch YouTube videos and I would like try to de-construct what the drummers were doing and just try to play the drumbeat myself, and then it would all fall apart but we’d have some part of a song and I would just build it up from there.”
He sounds confused when trying to recall specifics from the album sessions, and when asked whether Will Carruthers from Spacemen 3 played bass on the whole record he kind of trails off.
“Yeah he played some bass... I think... on some of the tracks, but you know I just need to be around people when I’m making music, because the music doesn’t come from within me. You know? I just pull it out of the air or something so whether that’s my friends or some guy from Iceland or whatever, you know, I need those people around for the music to come out or it just doesn’t happen.”
Over the last few albums, and particularly on 2010’s Who Killed Sgt Pepper? EP, Newcombe has dabbled in adding some electronic elements to the band’s sound. Let’s get a few things straight about where he stands on this kind of thing: he hates German electronic music, saying it’s all stupid house and techno, but he does like some of the trippier elements of dubstep and in particular rates the work of Burial very highly.
“I don’t have this feeling where I want to make or I enjoy electronic drum music, you know like UNKLE – those expert remix DJs or whatever. Man, like I fucking do not understand it. Also like you know those DJs, someone sent me a photo or tweeted a photo of this guy with his laptop open and it said like ‘DJ A-Trak’ or someone ‘just played a killer set!’ (laughs) I was, like, you know, if you stole their laptop and you could learn how to press play on his iTunes then you could play a killer set as well. It’s like fucking Madonna man, you know, she goes to Europe and she goes to Denmark and she gets the best guy in Denmark to make her a song and she gets the best DJ from someone else to make her a song and then she just sings on them and then somehow they’re her songs. But that’s her power, and you know what, we’re talking about her right now. Even that DJ AM, you know, he died recently, and he just got Mixmaster Mike or someone to make all this cool shit for him and he would just replay it on a computer, you know? Fuck that guy.”
Okay then, shit’s getting a bit real. Let’s try a different tack and concentrate on why Newcombe has managed to keep a band together after all these years, when bands that emerged from the same ‘scene’ like the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club had massive peaks before disappearing into relative obscurity.
“That’s been a very clear agenda from me from the beginning,” he says with renewed focus. “I didn’t want to make music that could be used on the television or the radio to sell tampons or toothpaste or whatever. There was never any danger of my music having that appeal, and that’s why I think it’s still going. You know like The Stone Roses or my friend Steve Kilbey from the church, because he had this flash in the pan success it’s like he’s doomed to never be taken seriously again. It doesn’t matter how good his music is, it’s like because of this one-time success, no one looks at it the same way. I never went out and said, ‘I’m gonna go in and make this kind of record.’ Like, ‘I’m gonna put on a leather jacket and make this kind of music.’ And heaps of people do it that way, and have always done it that way. Like The Beatles, you know, they were like, ‘We’re gonna take Chuck Berry and... I don’t know, oh, Elvis, and we’re gonna be that band today.’ And it worked for them. But I never know what I’m gonna do before I do it or how it’s gonna sound before I make it.
“Plus there’s this thing with my music that it can be taken in so many different ways. Like it’s a rock band, or a psychedelic band, or a folk band or an art project or something. It can slot into so many different places that I never had to worry about it appealing to any massive audience.”
Chris Yates

1 comment:

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