The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Revolution of Suck

Hard truth time: I dug 13 Tales from Urban Bohemia as much or more than the next guy, but I would never, no matter how inebriated I may be, say to you that the Dandy Warhols are in any way, shape, or form, an original band. Their records consistently sound like whatever music they’re listening to at the time. Ditto The Brian Jonestown Massacre. In fact, the hardest part of watching the documentary Dig! is not the constant heroin-filled infighting that plagues BJM – it’s listening to the lead hacks in both bands (Courtney Taylor for the Dandy Warhols and Anton Newcombe for Brian Jonestown Massacre) walk around pretending that they’re going to start a musical revolution. If anything, both bands are perpetrating a musical devolution; both bands sound a lot like early Stones and/or The Velvet Underground. That can be pleasant enough at times and, at their best, both bands pull that off pretty well. But do you need more than one album by either band? No.

Self-proclaimed genius Newcombe’s latest contribution to the pastiche-pile is the horrendous, pretentious, and just fuck-awful turd of a record, My Bloody Underground, a punnily titled album meant to signal that he and BJM have been listening to more Velvet Underground than Rolling Stones lately. Or something.

The songs are long, they are boring, they are repetitive, and their titles are the kind of designed-to-shock horse shit you’d expect from a fifteen year old, “We Are The Niggers of the World” (but ha-ha, this one’s a fucking piano instrumental that Anton supposedly composed when he was but a wee lad. Sweet Zombie Jesus, someone should kick this guy’s ass) and “Automatic Faggot for the People,” the chief would-be offenders among them. Six of the tracks pass the six minute mark and the ones that don’t definitely feel like they do. In short, My Bloody Underground is a long, hard slog through a narrow tunnel of shit, not entirely unlike what Tim Robbins’ character in The Shawshank Redemption has to endure in order to escape prison.  It would be difficult to overstate how terrible this album is, but I’ll give it a try.

Forgoing any attempt at a track-by-track analysis, let’s get down to real shit here: this album is a fucking mess. It’s the product of a heroin-addled ape tooling around a studio with whatever hapless assclowns are still brave enough to be in his band. Half the time, the vocals are buried under droning noise and when they aren’t, you wish they were. “Who Cares Why,” not only exemplifies the masturbatory nature of this album but also my feelings towards it. Lots of musicians have gone the “experimental” route (like John Motherfucking Coltrane, thank you very much) and managed to make it come out sounding like music. My Bloody Underground sounds like shit. In fact, if I hated music and wanted to make the rest of the world hate music as much as I did, I would probably release something very much like My Bloody Underground.

People who can cling to the myth (largely perpetuated by the man himself) that Anton Newcombe is some kind of tortured genius (and I’m sure that’s an ever-shrinking or perhaps – hopefully- non-existent demographic) might be able to convince themselves that My Bloody Underground is yet another artistic achievement for The Brian Jonestown Massacre. I’d wager, though, that these people are probably on the same drugs as Mr. Newcombe. Even if I was a fan of BJM (and I’m not – I acquired My Bloody Awful Album from emusic just before canceling my account with them – it was an act of pure morbid curiosity for which I’ve not yet forgiven myself), I would be pissed to shell out even one hard-earned penny for this bloated circle-jerk. In fact, I’m mad as hell that part of my brain is being used to think about My Bloody Underground. I shall make a rigorous assault on that part of my brain with alcohol.

Anyone who talks (much less writes) about any kind of art knows that there’s a perverse sort of fun to hating an album, a book, a movie, whatever. But I can’t even take pleasure in how much I hate My Bloody Underground. In that regard, maybe Anton Newcombe has achieved his revolution after all – he’s pioneering a new kind of terrible, setting the bar of suckitude almost impossibly high for any pretentious, heroin-addicted douche who might dare to follow in his footsteps and, in so doing, taking all the pleasure out of hating his fucking guts. Well, almost all the pleasure…

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5 thoughts on “The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Revolution of Suck

  1. Coltrane went ‘experimental’ after studying for years with Monk who in the words of one critic, “heard chords where no else had.” Trane mastered, beyond anyone alive today or then, his instrument. When he decided to change the fabric of jazz, it was because that–and only that–was how to express himself.

    There are others who use ‘experimental’ as a shield for not knowing what the hell they’re doing.

  2. After seeing Dig! I checked out BJM’s website. At the time all the music was free to download, and I actually downloaded all of it. This would have been about two years ago, and even then the band’s level of quality was subject to much decline from their earlier output. I eventually deleted all but one album (Give It Back — and when my hardrive crashed I wasn’t moaning for that one either).

    The impression that I came out of from Dig! though, wasn’t that either band was revolutionary, but that both Taylor and Newcombe were two of the most pretentious and self serving asshats I could imagine in a creative venture. What I can say is that the only incentive I had for downloading it was that it was free, because it no longer is, and I don’t even feel a twinge in my pocketbook.

  3. BJM’s latest album is fucking ridiculously good. And I thought My Bloody Underground was good as well. Maybe not the best album BJM has put out… but fuck all.. who wants to listen to a band continuously putting out the same sound for years on end? I think MBU was good, in the regard it was the sign that Anton had become bored with the usual sound and decided he was moving forward.. And Who Killed Sgt. Pepper Anyways shows that Anton still has his genius intact.

  4. Hey man, Although I agree with you, you’re missing the point;

    The point being that music had evolved too quickly past that older sound because of steroid hits from big business and complex marketing…the point being was there is still more to discover from that era of sound and it’s better to sound unoriginal and stay there until something new is formed rather than creating something worse because it’s different and your in a rush to cater for 15< yr olds for profit

  5. Idiot, stick with Bob Marley, at least your dotard brain could comprehend. “My Bloody Fuckaround” was shite and a bit pretentious, that does not discount the prolific output of this band. Hit or miss, I adore the Kinks, post Muswell Hillbillies sucks..so? Grow the fuck up!

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