Review Summary: The heaviest so far.
Only a few months after completing a world tour with Vista Chino (ex-Kyuss Lives!), Brant Bjork unexpectedly returned to the stage with some friends under the new moniker, The Low Desert Punk Band. Even though nobody expected any new solo material this year, he started teasing the crowds with several fresh tunes. Then, without much hype, landed his hardest hitting album yet, Black Power Flower
Mixing his trademark cannabis soaked rock 'n' rol'e with copious amounts of hard rock this time, Brant churned a multitude of chunky riffs and packed them into one cohesive unit. He always had a penchant for heavy grooves, but often toned them down with spaced out jams. However, on Black Power Flower
the man cranks his amps up to eleven and lets the good times roll. His tenure in Vista Chino must have ambitioned him to add a whole new layer of distortion to the songs and it works wonders. Cuts like 'Stokely Up Now' and 'Buddha Time (Everything Fine)' are murky monsters that kick harder than anything on previous records. The fuzzy grooves are at a crossroad between melodic and dissonant, whereas screeching solos are wandering all over the place. 'Controller Destroyed' and 'We Don't Serve Their Kind' share punk influences, boasting some infectious melodies and some of that cool swag we all love to hear from the guy. For this album, even the vocal delivery has been switched from the usual prophetic tone to shouts. It is a very appropriate move, as the songs ask for urgency, a feature you wouldn't correlate with Brant Bjork.
'Soldier Of Love' and 'That's A Fact, Jack' are closer to the laid back, stoned jams, yet the Low Desert Punks wrapped them in a layer of fuzz too, turning them into dirty rockers. Plus, the funky wahs and imposing vocals work their magic over the rather simple, but downright catchy chord progressions. The tension breaks towards the end of the record, where 'Hustler's Blues' and 'Where You From, Man?' bring out the hazy side portrayed best on Jalamanta
or Saved By Magic
. The former feels like a night drive through the desert with its smoky bass lines and guitar licks, before bursting into an explosive finale. The latter is the soundtrack to the ride back home, where a main riff is looped for over eight minutes. It gradually loses steam and Brant adds only some echoed effects, a few spoken vocals and solos, leaving enough room for jamming. It will most probably become a live favorite.
In the end, no matter what trends arise, Brant Bjork is one of the most comfortable artists and doesn't wish to step outside of his universe. In a genre he helped define and refine over years, he still delivers some of the most basic and yet compelling riffs all by himself. Whether you hand him a fuzz pedal and a wall of cabinets or just an acoustic guitar, the man will never fail to offer you a slick tune. There are dozens of acts that thrive on his legacy, still, if you want the real deal you need to come back to the godfather of stoner rock. Black Power Flower
doesn't aim to break boundaries, it just maintains the high standards that everyone should seek. Roll up a fat one and enjoy.