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Brian Jonestown Massacre: Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?, in "Nothing Not New"

Artist: Brian Jonestown Massacre

Title: Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?
Release date: February 23
Label: A. Records

My only exposure to Brian Jonestown Massacre was in that rock documentary DiG!, which followed the rise in popularity of BJM and kindred spirits/rivals The Dandy Warhols. The latter band eventually achieved some mainstream success while the former sabotaged itself at every turn, whether by abusing prodigious amounts of drugs or giving the middle finger to that soulless ol' corporate record industry. 

The singer, Anton Newcombe, sure did seem like a train wreck in that entertaining movie. I questioned whether he was a true visionary, which he seemed to believe he was. Most of the time he was onscreen he was messed up, out of his mind on all sorts of illicit substances. 

I also questioned whether it was an accurate portrayal of Newcombe, who seems incredibly prolific. Can anyone that messed up produce such large volumes of music at such a fast rate? 

Anyway, Newcombe and Brian Jonestown Massacre have a new record out, and it's pretty good, though not really what I'd thought it would be. I anticipated a druggy, lo-fi experiment in dirty 1960s psychedelia. Well, it's still druggy, but it's also dance-y -- even groovy. It's more synth-based and less-guitar based than I expected. It's like a more dance-able, better-produced Spacemen 3. Most of the lyrics are unintelligible (though I could make out the word "drugs," or any of its variants, several times), but that's beside the point. This record is all about the sound and the experience -- or the trip.

There's some droning, shoegaze-type stuff going on here and some louder, tribal-sounding jams (for lack of a better word). It's all really repetitive, but it most of it sounds really cool. Interestingly, the personality of the singer, Anton Newcombe, rarely rises above the mix. It sounds like there are different "lead" singers, including a woman. And, like I said, the vocals are usually buried under drums and synths.

Extra credit: Without actually copying Joy Division's sound (as the terrible band Editors does), "This Is the One Thing We Did Not Want to Have Happen" sounds a lot like Joy Division.

Best song: "This Is the First of Your Last Warnings"
Rotation: Medium-heavy 
Deja Vu: Being in 10th grade and hearing "Sister Ray" for the first time.
I'd rather listen to: "Sister Ray" 
Grade: B+


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Jay Bennett
Contact: Jay Bennett