The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “Revelation” Is Perfectly Named

Beginning in 2010, when Who Killed Sgt. Pepper was the follow-up to My Bloody Underground, we began to think of the Brian Jonestown Massacre as a superb live band with one of the great back catalogues in rock, but not really a band whose who new album would engender much excitement.

But then came 2012’s Aufheben, which had a number of songs as good as anything Anton Newcombe had ever written, with “I Want To Hold Your Other Hand” and “Blue Order New Monday” taking up permanent residence inside our earbuds.  We began to get excited about what tricks Anton still had up his sleeve.

Revelation, which officially comes out tomorrow but happily was available to download last night, is so good, we wonder if it might be the Love and Theft to Aufheben‘s Time Out Of Mind, a portent not just of a return to greatness after a less-than-great creative patch, but an indicator that Newcombe’s best work, like Dylan’s, might someday be understood to have been made when his youth was behind him — to be not what he produced when he was a young and brash punk, but what came after a hard-earned perspective.  I mean, there were days when few people might have expected Anton would be around to make an album in 2014 — but to discover that he’s produced one of the best albums of his career?  Yeah, it’s got the right name: Revelation.

The album begins wonderfully, with the Swedish rocker “Vad Hande Med Dem” giving way to the Kurt Vile-ish “What You Isn’t.”  By the time we get to “Memory Camp,” it doesn’t matter which members of the large tribe that have variously performed as BJM are playing behind Anton, it doesn’t matter that we’re in Berlin, not California, no other band or set of musicians — not even ones like the Morning After Girls who worshipped the sticky ground on which Anton walked — could produce a Brian Jonestown Massacre album half as good as this. By the time we got to “Food For Clouds,” we were grinning ear to ear.  At “Memorymix,” we were ready to take the day off and just hole up, having committed to memory the phone number to the Dominos delivery folks.  By “Xibalba” we were dancing around the house.

Over the past few weeks, as Dan and Joel and Matt, as Ricky and Frankie descended upon Austin like the Hole In The Wall Gang getting together with Butch and Sundance to go rob a bank, excitement mounted.  They came together to play at the Austin Psych Fest, and then do a few West Coast shows before heading off to Europe, and reports came fast and furious that the band was in fine form.  Interviews with Anton found him completely on his game, honest about the past, a sober father with a great sense of humor.  Revelation reveals marriage, fatherhood, and sobriety have not diminished his creativity one wit.  And of course, as is so often the case, as a sober artist, these days he’s more capable of hitting his mark.

We expect to be playing Revelation until the hard drive on our device gives out.  Most important — and we are struggling to convey this to the band of weirdos to whom this really matters — based on the evidence available here, it’s time to raise our expectations and settle in for a late run.  The albums the Brian Jonestown Massacre are producing in the mid-’10s are as good as what they produced in the ’90s.  We may be ahead of ourself thinking that Anton’s on a run like the one that Dylan went on between ’97 and, oh, 2010.  But our hopes are high again.

 

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