Music Reviews
My Bloody Underground

The Brian Jonestown Massacre My Bloody Underground

(A Records) Rating - 4/10

I love it when bands shoot themselves in their collective feet with accusatory or judgmental song titles that could easily be applied to their own albums and/or states of creative being.  In the case of Anton Newcombe, the extraordinarily dysfunctional head of neo-psych band, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, he asks us,"Who Fucking Pissed In My Well?" 

Anton, honestly, it was probably you.

The onstage personification of a Jerry Springer episode gone right, Newcombe has made his mark as a self-destructive and self-obsessed figure of over-developed conceit.  He's undeniably talented, but his legacy will always be that of someone who was physically incapable of allowing himself and his bandmates, the numerous line-ups that have come and gone throughout the BJM's existence, any sort of real success.  Some may find that admirable, the mark of someone that doesn't sell out or stoop to mainstream criteria.  Others could justifiably view him as a "never was" that missed the boat and misspent his potential. 

Whichever category you would place him, Newcombe still carries on the BJM name and comes at us with My Bloody Underground, a 13-song effort that owes more to the chemicals coursing through his bloodstream than to actual songwriting.  And that may come off a little harsh, but when you take into account the boastful comment, “...a wicked fuckin’ sound that you never have heard...” you wonder how Newcombe can, with sincerity, apply it to the songs featured herein. 

My Bloody Underground, basing its namesake (and sound in more than a few instances) on The Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine, is an experimental hodge-podge of what sound like unedited B-sides and rehearsal snippets with button-pushing titles.  The aforementioned quote, for instance, is sullenly stated in a song titled, Bring Me The Head Of Paul McCartney On Heather Mills' Wooden Peg (Dropping Bombs On The White House).  Amusing title, but the song itself is a somewhat relentless insectoid-swarm of bowed instruments and off-tune guitar.  And even that would be okay if it wasn’t one consistent loop carried out for almost 7 minutes.

For most of My Bloody Underground, Newcombe vocalizes like a decaffeinated Kevin Shields, barely audible under the weight of reverb that blankets just about every track.  In some instances, it’s not a bad treatment.  Who Cares Why collages some unpolished acoustic guitar overtop a calculatingly solid bassline and a background of bleeps and static, resulting in some decent and engaging sonic layering.  Monkey Powder, a song co-written by Ride’s Mark Gardener, offers the album somewhat of a break from its otherwise overwrought coma by introducing some thick and sinister bass riffs.  It doesn’t deviate from the album’s formula, but Monkey Powder at least stands out and wakes up the album a bit.  Even Just Like Kicking Jesus, despite the fact that it could’ve been lifted directly from Loveless, introduces some ethereally angelic guitar sounds and vocals. 

But, directionless piano instrumental, We Are The Niggers Of The World, and screaming noise track, Automatic Faggot For The People, (I’m sure John Lennon’s ghost and R.E.M. are thrilled) basically reveal in Newcombe a sophomoric desire for attention that speaks louder than his music.  His attempted political incorrectness, though, falls on deaf ears and it makes one wonder if Newcombe’s aware of how far his relevance has passed him by.  In acoustic track, Yeah-Yeah, Newcombe sings,”I never worry/I leave it to fate/I’m not in a hurry/Already late.”  There’s probably a lot of truth to that.