The Brian Jonestown Massacre – ‘Mini Album Thingy Wingy’

Anton Newcombe's psych warriors return with a globe-trotting fifteenth album

Now operating prolifically from 48-year-old leader Anton Newcombe’s Berlin base, this year has already brought two substantial releases from Californian psych torchbearers The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Following April’s French movie tribute ‘Musique De Film Imaginé’ and Newcombe’s subsequent slow burning collaboration with Toronto singer Tess Parks ‘I Declare Nothing’, there’s no sign of the septet’s current creative sprint running out of energy.

Packed with multiple chiming guitars, ‘Mini Album Thingy Wingy’ may have an underwhelming title but it’s a worthy follow up to last year’s excellent, sprawling fourteenth album ‘Revelation’. Tess Parks is back with a writing credit on opening track ‘Pish’, a mid-paced piece of stoned psychedelia, Newcombe sighing the sort of easygoing lines (“I’m on a high/ Don’t bring me down”) that must arrive in his sleep. Its simplicity is in its charm, and that holds true for much of the record.

Continuing Newcombe’s transformation from San Francisco cult hero to stateless European son, ‘Prší Prší’ is a collaboration with Vladimir Nosal, frontman with Slovakian indie-pop band Queer Jane. A rich pattern of pastoral organ and acoustic guitar, it adds to the long list of latterday BJM songs sung in non-English tongues. The band’s internationalist spirit is one of the unfolding pleasures of their survival, although their roots in the American psychedelic underground are honoured with a gentle run through Texan legends The 13th Floor Elevators’ wide-eyed 1967 hymn ‘Dust’. The Texan connection is strengthened by a guest spot from Alex Maas, frontman with Austin psych outfit The Black Angels’, who adds wash of jug playing in tribute to the Elevators’ founding member and electric jug player Tommy Hall.

Ever since they christened themselves The Brian Jonestown Massacre (after Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones and a mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana) there’s always been a knowing playfulness to the group’s ‘60s references. It’s furthered here by the Beatles meets Doors mash up in the title of final track ‘Here Comes The Waiting For The Sun’. All backwards guitar and boxy drums, it swipes its phased vocal straight from another classic, Donovan’s ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’. But through the simple Velvets chug of ‘Get Some’ to flute and guitar instrumental ‘Mandrake Handshake’, the band’s effortless pleasures render such scholarship unnecessary.

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