Review: Brant Bjork ‘Bougainvillea Suite’

While Josh Homme might embody the power and swagger of the desert rock scene, his former bandmate Brant Bjork unquestionably embodies its heart and soul. Having played on Kyuss’ finest albums as well as playing for a duration with Fu Manchu among other acts, the man exemplifies a Palm Desert aesthetic he calls ‘Low Fi Desert Punk’, referring to his hardcore background. Fresh from his Stöner project with Nick Oliveri, Bougainvillea Suite is his thirteenth offering from his 20+ year solo work, delivering his trademark brand of sultry grooving sun worship that we all know and love.

Brant Bjork 'Bougainvillea Suite'

The record starts with the relaxed stomp of Trip On the Wine. It is guitar, bass, drums, organ and vocals… simplistic and essential for a song in which our host invites us to try some wine that might have an additional ingredient besides grapes. Good Bones starts with a suitably chill beat until the song reveals it’s about a relationship on the rocks (‘Laughing… as you jump in a cab and you go downtown… honey please be good to me’). I had to take the time to appreciate Bjork’s role as a vocalist. His appealing croon has come so far from the rough cuts of Jalamanta all those many years ago.

So They Say is unabashedly ‘60s, evoking a quieter Vanilla Fudge or The Doors. You can practically envision Vietnam war protests as it plays. That tradition continues with the Blue Cheer/Atomic Rooster-esque grunt of Broke That Spell. Later tracks like Bread For Butter and Lets Forget return to a more modern stoner rock approach. The closer is a reworking George Thorogood’s Who Do You Love?, albeit SEVERELY toned down and relaxed compared to the source material.

This is exactly the sort of mellow rock you want for a lazy day with no distractions and no pressing concerns. It’s for the open road or the sunlit porch…

Simply put, I knew exactly what to expect when reviewing this record. Mr. Bjork’s music is not meant to pummel you into a flattened mass of jelly with wall-to-wall Marshall or Orange amplifiers. Nor is it meant to send you off into a long-winded galactic journey to a far-off planet. This is exactly the sort of mellow rock you want for a lazy day with no distractions and no pressing concerns. It’s for the open road or the sunlit porch.

Personally, I thought it had more musical meat on its good bones than Stöner’s recent offerings. If you need to sit back and enjoy a cold brew or a cultured toke, Bougainvillea Suite will not disappoint.

Label: Heavy Psych Sound
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Rob Walsh