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Brant Bjork Blown

19 Nov

Brant Bjork

What’s with doodling sound-board fuckers who can’t even do a half-assed job? Went to see BRANT BJORK & THE BROS play last night and the sound was fucking abysmal, even by Camden Underworld’s questionable standards. Tech problems delayed the kickoff a bit, but once those were resolved – what was the excuse? Sure, I could hear Alfredo Hernández’ drums and Dylan Roche’s bass – in fact THAT WAS ALL I COULD HEAR. No gtr, barely any vocals. I mean, Brant’s thing is already pretty damn minimal, but whatever gtr flourishes/leads there might’ve been (I imagine there were a few) were completely buried in a miasma of bassy thudhum. And if I didn’t know lots of the words already, I wouldn’t have been able to tell if the man was singing in English or not. It was fucking insulting, both to me and them – as THE BROS were obviously amped for a hot, rockin’ show. I/they didn’t really get off. Blah.

That said: I’m still really taken by BB & THE BROS’ Somera Sól CD on Duna Records from earlier this year. It’s no big departure from that Chicano BAND OF GYPSIES trip they’ve been mining for the past few years, but Alfredo’s big drumming gives the sound a boost of jet-engine proportions. Al rocks, grooves, swings, and sambas, and then matches Brant’s easy spirit, smile for smile. And both Capt. Sean Wheeler (he of Salton Sea’s THROW RAG) and the great Mario Lalli (FATSO JETSON, YAWNING MAN, etc.) pop up for neat vocal cameos. Some of you may be put off by Brant’s spoken/sung stonerisms, but listen closer: he’s been gradually expanding his worldview and color palette as of late. He seems genuine in his singing, and for that alone he sits well with me. Not one to be denied.

A way more satisfying night was spent at the RISE ABOVE RECORDS showcase a few weeks back at the same club put together by label-honcho/CATHEDRAL singer Lee Dorrian. Got to see a rebuilt but still mythical LEAF HOUND, whose early 70’s Growers of Mushroom LP remains the single best substitute for Fire & Water-era FREE you’ll ever hear. But also on the bill were THE EARTHLING SOCIETY (prime-era HAWKWIND by way of ernest HÜSKER DÜ), LITMUS (prime-era HAWKWIND by way of an alt. rock QUEENS OF THE STONEAGE) and GENTLEMAN’S PISTOLS as well. The PISTOLS were the best, loudest, and wildest, and one of the few Brit bands going willing to dive headfirst into the nation’s classic tradition of bludgeoning boogie-blues rock. They’ve got a singer with a sense of humour who can actually sing, a talented lead gtr player who looks eerily like the late Paul Kossoff, and a hot new Rise Above CD that catches em in fine form.

But the whole shebang was totally reaffirming. An entire evening of heavy, hard-hitting UK underground rock – in London no less! It just ain’t too easy to come by anymore, in these dark days of BABYSHAMBLES & MAXIMO PARK overblown pop-pabulum. Lee Dorrian, we at Pig State Recon thank you dearly.

Thanks to Oberknoppenfuhrer for the photo of Brant's tattoos