Review: Brant Bjork ‘Brant Bjork’
Where do you start with Brant Bjork? The man is a legend and officially the coolest man in rock. Starting his career with Kyuss, he has gone onto play with Fu Manchu, Vista Chino, Che and has had a pretty extensive solo career starting with 1999’s Jalamanta. Counting all his solo releases to date, including those done with The Low Desert Punk Band, the Bros as well as this, his latest, so the total I surmise comes to around 14.
Despite living out in the baking hot California desert, Brant is clearly a hard-working musician, eternally on tour and releasing new music. Unlike his output with his prior bands, Bjork’s solo work has always been a lot more playful and this record is no exception. It sees him largely returning to the cool psychedelic desert rock which he is renowned for, especially after last year’s Jacoozzi with its break beats, instrumental jazz and funk influences.
The front cover features the man himself outstretching his arms and looking up at the logo, which has adorned previous albums. There really isn’t a lot to say about it as Brant likes to keep it simple and unpretentious; it’s highly unlikely you’re going to see a Roger Dean-esque design adorning his works anytime soon.
The record starts with Jungle In The Sound and immediately reminds me of Stackt from Tao Of The Devil, especially the intro. I’d be very surprised if a video wasn’t made for this track as it is one of the most accessible on the album, I can already picture Brant in the desert, sinking a few cold ones with an attractive young lady. Some guys have all the luck eh?
The Psychedelic grooves continue with Mary (You’re Such a Lady) before leading into the heavy bass and cool rock drumming of Jesus Was A Bluesman. The feel of this track is a little darker than what I’m used to with a Brant Bjork album, with a late 70s moody post-punk influence. I wouldn’t say this is full on Joy Division, but evokes that feel in places and offers a really nice change of pace.
The album is reassuringly what you would expect from Brant Bjork, the type of cool desert stoner rock that is his trademark…
Cleaning Out The Ashtray has some glorious extended soloing and leads into another moody piece by the name of Duke Of Dynamite, which recalls underrated and overlooked Paisley Underground legends Thin White Rope, who incidentally also hailed from the desert. Shitkickin’ Now is the sort of song title that a band like The Supersuckers would use and the track definitely has a country fried vibe about it.
Its no secret that Brant is influenced by funk and Stardust & Diamond Eyes intonates Funkadelic with the badass bass proving that he isn’t quite yet ready to abandon the funk influences altogether of Jacoozzi. The album finishes with the shortest track on the album at 2:35, the acoustic Been So Long which has a melancholy feel.
The album is reassuringly what you would expect from Brant Bjork, the type of cool desert stoner rock that is his trademark. What distinguishes him, from say a lot of artists in the genre, is his willingness to experiment with his sound. So, with the funk, country and post-punk influences this makes for a far more engaging listening experience and unlike certain acts, such as Metallica, never comes across as ham-fisted. These extra influences are tastefully introduced into the album yet never detract from what is Brant’s core sound and therefore risk isolating his fanbase.
Having enjoyed this latest release, I’m now even more stoked at the prospect of seeing him live at Desertfest during my yearly excursion to Camden, London, well that’s if it happens…
Label: Heavy Psych Sounds
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram
Scribed by: Reza Mills