Review Summary: Another strong release from San Francisco's neo-psychedelic lord(s)
The Brian Jonestown Massacre (read: Anton Newcombe and Co.) is one of the best and most influential acts of the modern psychedelic movement ever since their 1993 debut release Spacegirl & Other Favorites
, and continued to dominate the scene through the end of the decade with a series of premium albums, with their seventh and final album of the ‘90s being Strung Out In Heaven
. Employing a style not unlike the classic psychedelic rock sound of the late 1960s, The BJM catalog provides a breath of fresh air in a long-stale and irrelevant musical style (disregarding the Japanese psychedelic rock scene that kept evolving into the 1980s).
It might as well have been 1967 in the life of Anton Newcombe about 30 years after the first Summer of Love, with Newcombe writing songs about love, being high, and summertime, and packing them onto six albums in four years, a frequency of releases that is more uncommon than not in recent times; not to mention the sound of the album itself, with floating acoustic guitars and organs and a light and breezy tone of singing as well as of the songs themselves. You’d be a fool not to notice the vast influence of the 1960s and its decade defining psychedelic rock/folk sound, yet this influence doesn’t detract from the album and make it feel like a sub-par ripoff that milks everything about the San Francisco Sound. No, The BJM takes these influences and put a spin on them to accomplish a difficult task in music; a proper homage.
As previously mentioned, the sound here is lighthearted, and acoustic guitars driven with lyrics parallel to those found in the music of Newcombe’s influences, except for the feelings of a modern youth that are displayed, emanating feelings of love lost, and trivial teenage issues. Standout tracks include Wasting Away, Maybe Tomorrow, and I’ve Been Waiting, with their catchy choruses and lyrics that show a juvenile sense of love and getting strung out while taking a walk on a hot summer day, as well as the uncommon harmonica giving Wasting Away an even more vibrant feel despite its somewhat depressing lyrics. The re-recordings of Dawn (from Take It From The Man!
) and Wisdom (Methodrone
) bring little to the table in terms of new qualities, besides the lack of harmonica on Dawn, but are still superb tracks regardless.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre on Strung Out In Heaven
continue their streak of going against the trend in popular music at the time to create enjoyable neo-psychedelia and borrow heavily from their influences while still remaining original and exciting. Although slightly inferior to the trio of psychedelic classics Take it From The Man!, Their Satanic Majesties Second Request
, and Thank God For Mental Illness
, this album is nonetheless an essential listen for fans of the band especially, as well as anyone interested in neo-psychedelia.