Saturday, August 18, 2012










A BJM three-peat: Anton et al come to rock once again

I consider myself very lucky when I can see one of my favorite bands live in concert. When they come back a year later, it's like an overtime bonus show. But three out of four summers in a row? That's concert nirvana.
And when we're talking about The Brian Jonestown Massacre, a band that must be heard live to be fully appreciated, well, you've just described me in my "happy place."
What's amazing to me about this group is how unbelievably prolific it was in the mid '90s. And, while some of what BJM has put out over the years is actually a little tough to listen to, more of it is what I consider sparks of brilliance.
Apparently, Milwaukee agrees. Turner Hall on Friday was mostly filled up, just as it was the last two (out of three) summers. And like me, the crowd assembled knew it was witnessing something special, as a wall of guitars (and one tambourine) rolled through its parade of hits – if you could call them that, since BJM never had any airplay – like "Anemone, "Not If You Were The Last Dandy On Earth," "Servo" and "Straight Up and Down." That last song, by the way, is the theme to HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," and it was received with added enthusiasm. That it turned into an extended version of "Sympathy For The Devil" to end the set was extra amazing.
BJM is touring in support of its new album, "Aufheben," which isn't bad, although to my ear, most of the magic comes from the band's golden era, circa 1996-1997. In other words, you know you're listening to art when the band goes all experimental, but it's not always as fun to listen to as the vampy, surf rock that almost sounds Brit pop at times (except the band hails from San Francisco).
Always a volatile lineup, front man Anton Newcombe was quiet, letting his music do the talking. If you've seen "Dig," you may have formed an opinion of Newcombe, but having recently interviewed him, he's actually mellow and friendly. So the normal juvenile taunts from the audience, seeking some conflict, are just wasted energy. Three years ago, it got downright tense when Anton stopped the band several times mid-song, staring down the drummer with a "you're doing it wrong glance." This year, he had a few words for one of his five guitarists regarding his pedals, but everyone moved past it.
Anton is always the main story, but this is a band of characters. Of course, you have Joel Gion, the mutton-chopped tambourine player, clad in all black on stage, and the super-talented Matt Hollywood expertly going about his business. When you put it all together, BJM is just so very rock and roll.
For me, this has been a great concert summer. BJM's bizarro-twins, The Dandy Warhols, played Chicago at the beginning; now this amazing show at the end. I rarely leave a show feeling completely and utterly fulfilled. Tonight I did.
And as long as the band keeps coming back every year (or so), so will I. The Brian Jonestown Massacre in Milwaukee is quickly become a favorite summertime tradition.

(here is a quick interview/ dialog i am working on for the metro nyc)

hi anton, i don't usually have a list of questions, i prefer to chat. so bear in mind my questions appear more like free thought/conversation and either need answers or your thoughts and feelings!

Q: i can understand that scheduling when touring must be tricky. does life on the road get harder as the years roll on, or easier?

it's a trade off really - the more time you put into your craft and touring - your fan base builds and your earn more,use better transportation and lodging,but you tired of the daily grind as the years roll on and tempers can flare.thank god i don't drink any has help ease certain health problems both physical and mental...the downside ofcoarse is being surround by drunk and high people talking nonsense... i am however enjoying this very much and would miss it if it goes away.also: things are running smoothe since we hired pink floyds roadies to help us.

Q: you have a different band playing on the album and the original members on the US tour.  Why did you decide to do it this way?

i have always writen by myself for the most part,or roped in whoever might be around me to help or add to it. i.e. mirranda lee richards to sing... or someone like dino from dimmer to play drums for a track..i live in europe and the band member live all over the world...i've love to write music everyday,not just when it can be arranged and booked.we do have a ruff plan to record as a unit for and album project next year...

Q: i take Aufheben as banishing, but in a freeing way. does that sum up where you are as an artist now?

i think the word Aufheben is topical on a personal level and a global level,that and the phraze "yield to overcome".some times you have to pause and take stock to excelle,other times you need to rip it up and start again to reach greatness.

Q: how about personally? does aufbehen have a meaning to you on a human level?

on a personal level i've swaped out members of the group endlessly to more forward,in a sense to lift it up,to abolish things like drug abuse and to preserve the focus and spirit.

Q: have you always had the same artistic philosophy? has it changed or developed over the years?

i feel as though a great portion of my outlook was fully formed as far as i can remember,i've had the same love / hate relations with culture and human interactions,thirst for knowledge and love of the arts,spirituality since kindigarten really,when they pulled me out of my house and mixed me with the other children.

interesting questions so far....thank you for that.

Q  why did you choose to make Berlin your home base?

for the culture,its central location and northern climate,the history and civil society and to be honest,it's the last place in the western world that will adopt the outwart trapping of the security/police state apparatus as we glide ever deeper into something that looks like,feels like corporate fascism.the people of germany have experiance with government over stepping human rights to the point of a culture,it is overwhelmingly on guard to learn,atone for the past and work hard to build a better future.

i love the energy.

Q: Seems like the early '90s San Fran psyche/shoegaze scene never really came out of the underground, though it's influence is heard in bands like the Dum Dum Girls, Vandelles etc etc. does this music belong in the underground?

let's be honest: the mainstream is a sewer. feel free to visit ,take a glance,then tell me i am wrong.mtv is a sesspool.why on earth would i want to be anywhere near any of it?

toto,i don't think we're in kansas anymore.

i rest my case.

Q:  could you imagine being in the mainstream (i think you had a taste of near celeb status with the whole Dandys thing)?

it's not my thing and never was.even growing up in newport beach california and watching the culture change from local and well to due to transiant new money bullshit forced me to forsake it became to me and wasteland with a racist undertow and policeforce.

okay, so forgive me having a conversation here with an imaginary Anton!


this was quite good thank you.
best wishes,


Friday, August 17, 2012

Jam of the Day | Magic Castles - Ballad of the Golden Bird

Photo courtesty of the band
I'm fresh off a four day tour of Twin Cities punk history, having spent most of the week with a documentary crew working on a film about Grant Hart, but the truth is, even after that, I don't know much about what's going in Minneapolis or St Paul music-wise these days. So I was delighted to get this track from Magic Castles, a dreamy Minneapolis fuzz-rock quartet, in my inbox this morning.

What's happening in Minneapolis, apparently, is psychadelic droning that spreads out and paints enormous aural pictures: some soft, some loud, some sweet."Ballad of the Golden Bird" is the track from Magic Castles that caught the ear of Brian Jonestown Massacre mastermind Anton Newcombe, who's signed the band to his 'a' records and taken them on the East Coast and Midwestern legs of BJM's current tour, and it's also the track that caught mine.

North Carolina can catch Magic Castles at Cat's Cradle next Tuesday, 8/21, opening for Brian Jonestown Massacre. Everybody else can stream "Ballad of the Golden Bird" below.

Brian Jonestown Massacre, Magic Castles 

When: Tue., Aug. 21, 9 p.m.
Price: $17-20
It's amazing to behold Brian Jonestown Massacre's almost perfectly derivative catalog. The band's resurrection of 13th Floor Elevators-meets-Byrds jangle helped jump-start a mid-'00s psychedelia revival, for which we can be occasionally thankful (admit it, there were some good Black Angels jams). But then there were the tracks that never seemed to end, the droning vocals and the impression that somewhere, at some point, some other band had written these songs first.
But it misses the point to look to Brian Jonestown Massacre for fresh sounds: They're the Death Proof and Planet Terror of indie music. Criticism of Brian Jonestown Massacre's blanket unoriginality may just take this project too seriously. Even the latest, Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?, with its stumbling electronica, shoegaze-y loops and gratuitous Europeanisms still fits neatly enough within an overarching aesthetic to fit the mold. It'll be interesting, at least, to see if they perfect the whole Spiritualized-meets-Euro rave thing by next album. Magic Castles open at 9 p.m. —Corbie Hill


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