Release Date: May 20, 2014
Record label: A
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Neo-Psychedelia, Garage Rock Revival
Review Summary: A stroll down memory lane with The Brian Jonestown MassacreAnton is sober for four years now and it shows. His late '00s forays into droning psychedelia have ended up as the acid soaked My Bloody Underground and Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?, two efforts that are definitely the most divisive in the band's catalog so far. He finally got clean after at least two decades of inner battles and as a result, all subsequent efforts moved away from the crazy, alcohol and drug-induced trips.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Anton Newcombe took his time to record Revelation, but with The Brian Jonestown Massacre becoming such an institution in the indie-psych scene over the last two decades, he's clearly not (and maybe never was) worried about its reception. The album's excellent opener 'Vad Hands Med Deem' features Swedish musician Joachim Alhund's vocals competing with the song's insistent riff, and as it shifts to the previously-unveiled 'What You Isn't', you'll be wondering exactly where you'll place Revelation when you make your Best of 2014 album list.
Revelation is the 14th album by Anton Newcombe and his Brian Jonestown Massacre, and the first to be fully recorded and produced at Newcombe's Berlin recording studio. In typically atypical Newcombe fashion, the album begins with a song sung entirely in Swedish by an artist named Joakim Åhlund. Aside from guitar from original Brian Jonestown Massacre bandmate Ricky Maymi and minimal contributions by a couple guest musicians, Newcombe plays everything on the album himself.
Anton Newcombe is one of those rare artists who manages to stay prolific without compromising his output. ‘Revelation’ plays like a mixtape showcasing the broad spectrum of styles his band have absorbed over two decades and 14 albums. There’s psych-rock (‘Xibalba’), trance-like motorik grooves (‘Memorymix’), propulsive instrumentals (‘Duck And Cover’), bluesy introspection (‘Days, Weeks And Moths’) and off-kilter moments that seem disconnected from any time and place (‘Second Sighting’).
Decades into a brilliant (and brilliantly obscure) career, the Brian Jonestown Massacre outlived a lot of the bands they inspired, even those that rose to greater acclaim than Anton Newcombe and his rotating cast of a backing band ever would playing his songs of perfectly tattered psychedelia. Revelation is the 14th full-length from the project, with Newcombe having been one of the only constants over the years, this time in complete control of writing, recording, production, and most of the performances as he laid down these tracks over a two-year period in his Berlin studio. Newcombe is joined by a scant few guests, including original BJTM member Ricky Maymi laying down a little guitar, as well as some minimal help from members of Les Big Byrd, Asteroid No.
Various demo versions of US psychedelic rockers’ The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 14th studio album Revelation have been available on Youtube for several months now as enigmatic leader Anton Newcombe takes control of the situation, rather than have someone illegally stick it up without his consent. It’s this kind of social media embracement that has enabled Newcombe to connect regularly with fans, often engaging in dialogue on both Youtube and an active Twitter account – always approachable, always making time for those that appreciate his art; it’s a far cry from the days fuelled by drugs and then drink as addictions came and went. Many will know him from the documentary Dig! where he was portrayed as The Dandy Warhols’ wild adversary.
Album number 14 finds the singer-songwriter-musician equivalent to his band, for most of these 13 tracks feature only Anton James Newcombe. Relocated to Berlin, this finds the Brian Jonestown Massacre hearkening back to their fine full-length 1995 debut, Methodrone, which was full of shoegaze-inspired guitars, immersed in drones and doom, but as catchy as it was somber. This knack for combining the sour with the sweet sustains A Revelation.
As notorious as he is prolific, The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe has been creating shoegazeinflected psychedelic jams for the best part of 25 years. His latest effort sees him indulging in some serious shape-shifting, from Byrds–esque jangles to minimal, looped beats redolent of Aussie electro wizards Seekae. Recorded at Newcombe’s own studio in Berlin, Revelation introduces itself with Van Hande Med Dem.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre are now on their 14th album. And it's not so much a Revelation, more a reaffirmation of their cult status. Anton Newcombe's staunch adherence to a 60s psych aesthetic means repetitive songs with tambourines to the fore, all swathed in a musty reverb and his fey, wasted vocal recalling fellow indie survivor Stephen Pastel.
To the wider world, doubtlessly weaned on Ondi Timoner's 2003 documentary Dig!, it's been all too easy to take Anton Newcombe for granted. Seen in certain quarters as a misguided figure of fun, this disingenuous view has masked the fact that the music made by The Brian Jonestown Massacre over the last decade or so has been on an upward trajectory and one that has thrown a number of interesting curveballs along the way. With Revelation, the first to be fully recorded in Newcombe's Berlin studio, the band has delivered its most satisfying and accomplished collection section since And This Is Our Music dropped just over a decade ago.
I always thought Anton Newcombe would be one of those people who would just be fucked up forever. You know the type - pickling himself, like Keith Richards, until he got to that perfect state where all his vices would find themselves in a state of precarious balance that would allow him to achieve immortality. But in the last few years, following a frenzy of manic activity, dalliances with dance music and disturbingly attention-seeking song titles like “Bring Me the Head of Paul McCartney on Heather Mill’s Wooden Peg (Dropping Bombs on the White House)” and “Auto-Matic-Faggot for the People”, Newcombe sounds like he’s started to level out.
Brian Jonestown Massacre Revelation (A Records) As long as Anton Newcombe needs to create, there will be a Brian Jonestown Massacre. Say what you will about him – father of modern psych, charismatic narcissist, destructive-on-multiple-levels genius, drug casualty asshole – but he's issued a torrent of nearly annual releases since 1991. In creating one of the finest oeuvres of any act alive, this San Francisco-hatched troupe needs only to let Newcombe crack open his skull and let the sounds spill forth.
At this point, Anton Newcombe’s self-willed psychedelic rock act has been so prolific and been going for so long there’s no real point in noting how many albums it’s recorded. Suffice to say that, after some experiments with electronics and dreamy soundscaping, Revelation is a return to the song-oriented, guitar-delivered work of the band’s first decade. Not that the record doesn’t have plenty of dicking around – it wouldn’t be a BJM project without digressions like the electropop of “Memorymix” and the pastoral Britfolk of “Second Sighting.