Words by Andrew Ryan Fetter
Andrew Fetter has been writing about music for over the last decade and playing in bands for even longer. His latest endeavor was the radio hour, The Noise Kaleidoscope which aired on 99.1FM WQRT in Indianapolis (now on hiatus – past episodes are archived online). On it he covers his personal collection and influences of psych rock from over the last half century, starting with early influences and reaching to its modern incarnations.
Holy shit. We’ve passed the year-long mark of our dive into the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s catalog. As we get closer to modern day Brian Jonestown Massacre (with a new album Your Future Is Our Past arriving in February), we turn to 2014’s Revelation (A Records) – their thirteenth studio album. Revelation was the first to be recorded in Anton’s home studio in Berlin, which soon became the primary location for recording the band’s work. A band having their own space to create and document their work can be a double edged sword. You have the freedom to make the album you want to make and you’re shielded from outside influences. On the other hand, too much of that freedom runs the risk of the music being incredibly self-indulgent. The risk is that much greater given Anton’s prolific output. Thankfully, Revelation hits that sweet spot right in the middle. This feels like yet another new era for the band, which starting a new year off on that note is fitting.
Before “Space Lord”, before the masterpiece of Last Patrol, New Jersey stoner rock masters Monster Magnet recorded a 24 minute epic one song EP called Tab (God Unknown Records). Similar to Sleep’s Dopesmoker, Tab is centered around one central idea that is then just repeated and layered into oblivion. It was a one time thing for the band as frontman Dave Wyndorf found jamming to be “boring” and wanted to focus on bringing people “real songs”. Despite his distaste for the style, this is just really damn good. There’s no point at which you’re just sitting and waiting for it to end. God Unknown Records is releasing a series titled Test Patterns and this reissue of Tab is its first installment. Included with the finished product is the demo recorded in 1988. It’s simply a grittier version of what Tab eventually became, but still showcases the roots of this behemoth of a band.
I almost completely slept on Dead Meadow’s latest release Force Form Free (Blues Funeral Records). Luckily it finally found its way onto my radar because this is a true game changing album for the band even as a shorter offering (roughly 35 minutes). “The Lure Of The Next Peak” with its more minimalist vibe doesn’t really fit with their more straightforward riff-based stoner rock, but also doesn’t feel out of place. And when “Valmont’s Pad” kicks in right afterwards, we’re back in familiar territory… somewhat… Force Form Free truly shows the band exploring new territory, and doing it well. “To Let The Time Go By” has a 60s psychedelic folk vibe that moves into the title track that immediately starts with a WALL of fuzz guitar. Being willing to try new things and not make a record like they’ve made before has worked in their favor.
I’m fairly certain that not a day goes by that I don’t have something involving J Mascis playing in my house. He spins gold almost every time his fingers touch his guitar. In recent months, Heavy Blanket, his jam based psychedelic rock project has taken over Dinosaur Jr in terms of overall plays. Moon Is (Outer Battery), the band’s latest release, proves why they have. Mascis’s brilliance as a guitar player is making his just “noodling around” sound like a whole fucking song. “Crushed” is a spaced out trip that drives full speed into a blackhole. If you’re not holding on for dear life, you’ll get hurled among the stars. Which, if this album is the soundtrack to that on loop, it may not be all bad. The title track is definitely my favorite of the bunch. It’s more “jammy” than the rest of it, but much like the last album, Heavy Blanket can draw a clear distinction between jamming and just repeating the same shit over and over.