The Brian Jonestown Massacre (BJM), yet another band I discovered thanks to CMJ New Music Monthly. Man, I miss that magazine and their monthly disc of goodness. It was issue number 59, July of 1998. This was a particularly good issue as it also included Rufus Wainwright, Komeda, Soul Asylum and Molotov but the track that caught me was the 5th one on the disc, a song entitled Wasting Away.
Why This Album?
My first impression of BJM was how much they sounded like a forgotten 60’s band. They had this Rolling Stones, Beatles, Psychedelic Rock vibe that was exactly what I wanted at the time and there is no better track on the album to catch me than Wasting Away. There was something hypnotic and relaxing about it and it ended in a fade that just left you wanting more. It wasn’t long before I knew I needed to hear more and so, I tracked down the album ‘Strung Out In Heaven’ and boy was I delighted at what I found.
This is an album that is rock in it’s purest form. It is a jam session put to tape and shared with the world. Lead singer Anton Newcombe sounds not unlike a young Mick Jagger mixed with a touch of latter days John Lennon but with less Stones influence and more as if the Byrds had been led by Jim Morrison. The best way to describe BJM is that they are the distilled remains of all of the psychedelic rock of the 60’s fully representing the sound and feel of the bygone era. Every lyric, every note, every beat oozes the sixties but not in a copycat sort of way, more like an homage to the greatness that was. If you listen closely you can almost even hear Hendrix in the background nodding his head in approval.
There is something absolutely magical and cool about this album that, to this day, I find it is one that transports me back to my early twenties chilling out in my apartment playing my PlayStation late into the night. It was an innocent time for me, out on my own, just trying to make each day count and this album served as part of an ever evolving soundtrack to those early days of when my journey had just begun. It is an album that reminds me of my first apartment, old girlfriends, walking the streets of San Antonio with a wooden sword on my back (yeah, don’t ask), and just not fully understanding where life was taking me yet. Every track brings back memory after memory, some good, others a paler shade, but all important to who I am today. We all have that soundtrack and this is just one part of mine.
Obviously, Wasting Away. This was the track that introduced me to BJM and cemented them into my vast collection of music. It is a statement about the youth of today done in such a way that it proves timeless even now.
Maybe Tomorrow comes across as a great ballad to a loved one. It is sorrowful, and gorgeous all at once. One that I can almost hear Tom Petty or George Harrison singing.
I’ve Been Waiting has a very latter Beatles – Harrison vibe to it, something that could have easily fit on Abby Road or on the White Album and boy do I dig it.
Ok, Where do I get it?
This one is currently out of print but if it ever ends up on my favorite retailers site, this is where you would find it. Thankfully, it is available on Spotify so, you too, can enjoy the trippy mellow sounds of Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Late to the Game 11/17/2020 (Originally published 7/23/2019)
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