BANGER! (ROCK): THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE – “MINI ALBUM THINGY WINGY”
The California-based seven piece psychedelic group The Brian Jonestown Massacre is back with their 15th album, Mini Album Thingy Wingy, and in their 27th year together show no signs of slowing down. The playfully titles Mini Album Thingy Wingy clocks in at just 34 minutes, but uses every moment to stretch its legs and show you something different. BJM’s full arsenal is on display in this one, encompassing everything from band leader Anton Newcombe’s simple but effective songwriting style to their newfound development into Eastern psychedelia.
The opening track, “Pish”, catches you with a bright guitar riff that doesn’t let go throughout the entire song barring a couple breathers, while the roomy gang vocals and a phased guitar bring you to a higher sonic plane. The mixing of this song (done by Fabien Leseure who also did the engineering and co-producing) puts you right in the middle of this rich and deep landscape and each part of the arrangement comes at you from varying depths and directions. “Prší Prší”, done entirely in Slovenian with the help of singer Vladimir Nosal, marks the band’s foray into Eastern influence within this album; it’s a simple, charming, and straightforward song utilizing, as many of their songs do, an array of different instruments to fill up all listening space.
The following two songs, “Get Some”, and “Dust” let Newcombe showcase his songwriting capabilities. The chugging “Get Some” consists of a simple melody detailing Newcombe’s plea to “Get that girl or go insane.” “Dust” is probably the most stripped down piece on the album, allowing Newcombe’s almost free formed vocals explore over a simple acoustic progression (of course with the extraneous instrumentals adding color in the background).
BJM uses the second side of this album (consisting of “Leave it Alone”, “Mandrake Handshake”, and “Here Comes the Waiting for the Sun”) to develop the deeply psychedelic and otherworldly sound first exposed in “Pish”. “Leave it Alone” wastes no time dumping you into this psychedelic wasteland with emblematic neo-psychedelic guitar leads dancing over long distorted guitar tones, and feedback swells while the rhythm section tries to keep the sound grounded. Newcombe’s desperate, reverb-laden vocals cut through the mix with lyrics describing the uncaring nature of the world, ultimately proclaiming the song’s tagline, ‘Take what you need, and Leave from this land.’ Throughout, the lead guitar improvises in an understated way, evoking distant thoughts, acting as another brick in the wall of sound created by the instrumental arrangement. The much more subtle “Mandrake Handshake” serves as a breather, as the acoustic guitar and solid back beat of the drums give a much more grounded and rock feel to this 4-minute instrumental.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre reaffirm their love for combining 60’s and 70’s references into a single digestible phrase with the climactic song of the album, “Here Comes the Waiting for the Sun” (a clever combination of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”, and the Doors’ “Waiting for the Sun“, both bands known for instances of trippy arrangements and eastern influences). This piece disorients with its use of edited guitar, comparable to that of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”, its heavy reverse back beat, and use of eastern instruments. This driving groove led by Newcombe’s march-like cadence are brought to an abrupt and mind-bending change as the drum beat cuts itself in half, and the vocals cut themselves into many more pieces. The outro of this song conjures images of an intense yet beautiful trip as chirps, chords, tones, and riffs seem to interject at will from all angles over the trembling vocals and deep, all-encompassing rhythm.
If you enjoy the ups and downs of taking a journey through charming songwriting, smoke-filled soundscapes and even a Slovenian folk song the Mini Album Thingy Wingy has you covered.