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Performer Notes
  • Brian Jonestown Massacre includes: Anton Newcombe, Matt Hollywood, Brian Glaze.
  • Taking into consideration the last time we heard from the Brian Jonestown Massacre (1999's one-off EP of country-folk ramblings, Bringing It All Back Home Again), longtime fans of the BJM might still be a little taken aback by the songs on this 36-minute EP at first, as this is somewhat of a departure from what BJM shaman and group leader Anton Newcombe has previously written and recorded with a revolving-door membership of sidemen and -women. The six songs collected here were reportedly set aside for the band's long-awaited follow-up to 1998's Strung Out in Heaven, but after they were reportedly rejected by TVT Records, Newcombe opted to exercise a clause in his contract that allows him to release material on his own Bomp!-distributed Committee to Keep Music Evil imprint. That is why the title and artwork (with its colorful pinwheel flowers) goes out of its way to imply that there are "zero" songs from the album Bravery included here. The whole shebang starts slowly, with the sound effect of a computer modem connecting (certainly a sign that the BJM are embracing the modern age more than ever) before "Let Me Stand Next to Your Flower" finally kicks in. The song's clever, catchy midtempo chorus ("You're like candy to me, but candy's no good") is prime BJM: catchy, derivative, and a lot of fun. Newcombe and company then slip into a swirling psych pop riptide for "Sailor," which (like much of the BJM's recorded output) "borrows" its melody and lyrics wholesale from late '60s recordings, some heard or rarely so. In this case, the song is virtually a direct lift from Cryan Shames' "Sailing Ship," but it's a haunting reverie, much better than the original (and, to his credit, Newcombe shares the songwriting credits with the Chicago-based Shames' original songwriters). "Open Heart Surgery" may remind some of Arthur Lee's folk-psych Love ballads, while a shambolic balls-out rocker "Whatever Hippie Bitch" -- the title reportedly was the response BJM guitarist Jeff Levitz got when he jokingly yelled "Get a room!" at two men he saw kissing -- may bring to mind some of the classic heavier-sounding BJM tunes from albums like Take It From the Man! and Give It Back. "If Love Is the Drug, Then I Want to O.D." is heartfelt stuff -- more vulnerable than you might expect -- but the EP's finale, "A New Kind of Sick," is Newcombe's magnum opus, an ornate pop madrigal with string synths, sampled cello, and folky acoustic guitar. A final chord crashes in a cascading wave that decays for more than four minutes of near inner space Eno-esque silence; then, at nine and a half minutes, the tune returns briefly, and surprisingly so, with dramatically formal-sounding church organ, only to fade into oblivion once again. It's a fitting end to a sublime change-of-pace effort from a band with quite a considerable oeuvre worth checking out. ~ Bryan Thomas
Professional Reviews
Alternative Press (4/01, p.66) - 4 out of 5 - "...This could be their finest album yet...with the added fill of a sharp ear for the Rolling Stones..."

Magnet (4-5/01, pp.69-70) - "...Continues further down the path of psychedelic indulgence, and it's a joy to behold....employing all the subtle tricks of the 60s groups they no doubt worship."
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