San Francisco-based Brian Jonestown Massacre, or BJM, does neo-psychedelic differently than most other bands of the subgenre, taking neo-psychedelia to some dark, and varied, places. In the over 20 years since the band formed, their 13 records and ever-changing personnel have spanned country-blues, shoegaze, folk and a lot of drug-fueled psychedelia, capturing the dark side of 1960s-era excess and drug use.
BJM’s latest album, Revelation, continues that vibe as it takes listeners on a trippy journey through the mind without much deviation from the mesmeric guitars and horns that exemplify the BJM sound.
Newcombe’s echoing voice on the first track, “Vad Hande Med Dem?” may confuse those who don’t speak Swedish—the language collaborator Joachim Alhund sings in—but what draws listeners in are not his lyrics, but how the lyrics flow seamlessly into the song’s upbeat guitars and tambourines. In true psychedelia-inspired fashion, words and music join in harmonious unity as thrumming drumbeats blend into eerie theremins and droning guitars. One song becomes another song becomes another as tracks meld together to create a cohesive, hour-long kaleidoscopic album. BJM also incorporates a number of different musical styles into Revelation, such as their shoegaze roots and Eastern sitar playing.
However, Revelation is nothing new for the band’s musical style, as their head-bobbing trippy rock hasn’t really changed since the early 2000s. Their 2008 record My Bloody Underground is the most successful of their later dark psychedelic-rock, but the formula for their music has remained the same throughout their career.
Revelation never sounds stale or repetitive, and tracks like the fairy tale-esque “Second Sighting” break the mold of trance-like psychedelia with dreamy flutes and lyres. The rest of the album doesn’t veer much from their tried-and-true formula for spacey, trippy alt-rock, but it’s one that works.
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