The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Stairway To The Best Party
Most of us had our first exposure to The BJM when watching the 2004 Ondi Timoner documentary DiG! which chronicled the ups and downs bands the Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. At least this was how I had my first BJM experience (sadly? I wonder how I would’ve gained exposure to them otherwise). I was engrossed with the story, though I’m sure clever editing made it very easy to make assumptions on each of these bands and their members.
Needless to say, after it was all said and done I was more interested in The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s music/catalog than I was with the Dandy’s. Anton Newcombe, though portrayed in the movie as a deeply troubled man, seemed much more in tune with and completely passionate about his music than their “rivals.” Throughout the entire film it all came down to the things he was trying to do to get his music made, to get his band recognized. I got the impression that this was a man made of music. This is completely evident by The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s massive output (11 studio albums since 1993). Newcombe and an often changing group of musicians have been reeling out eclectic blends of shoegaze, psychedelic, world music and electronic for nearly a decade.
This year’s release, Aufheben, is quite impressive. It struck a chord with me much more than the previous two releases (2010’s Who Killed Sgt. Pepper? and 2008’s My Bloody Underground). Let me address here also that Newcombe, as you can tell, is not one to shy away from indicating his influences, the final track on Aufheben is called Blue Order New Monday. You can, and I do encourage you, to delve deep into the back catalog of BJM.
Lead track, Panic In Babylon, really sets the tone for the entire album. Shit is about to get other-worldly and I’m talking about like if India were on Jupiter or something. Second song Viholliseni Malla (apparently Finnish for “the enemy of my country”), I easily mistook for a Stereolab song which is absolutely not a bad thing at all. Gaz Hilarant (laughing gas) may very well be my favorite song on the album. It’s sort of difficult for me to put into words why that’s the case, but it’s just the one that will pop into my head here and there. The drums sort of worm their way into your head and you find yourself sway bopping along with it. Something about that instrument with the hollow sound really tickles my lobes, too.
I Wanna Hold Your Other Hand is reminiscent of …And This Is Our Music era BJM. Clouds are Liesevidences the My Bloody Valentine shoe-gazeishness but infused with some more unconventional guitar parts. Stairway To The Best Party is another stand out track which could easily have transported itself from the 1960s. Definite second favorite track.
Aufheben is a wonderful aural trip of an album which has taken residency in my favorite albums of 2012. -a
I speak the truth. Love this album and I’ll probably listen to it again today.