Paying homage to the great European film directors of the ’50s and ’60s through a largely instrumental soundtrack to a film that doesn’t actually exist? That’s a pretty far-fetched premise for most bands, but The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s music has often required (and rewarded) a certain open mindedness and suspension of disbelief from their listeners, so it’s no surprise that they’re tackling such a lofty concept. Don’t pick up Musique De Film Imagine because you’re expecting it to sound like any of the other albums in the BJM discography, because you’ll be disappointed if you do. Pick it up if you like the band, but also like soundtrack music. This means that you don’t get to hear Anton’s voice on the album, or anyone else in the band’s voice for that matter. “Philadelphie Story” and “Le Sacre du Printemps” are the only songs to feature vocals, but both are sung in French by non-band members SoKo and Asia Argento, respectively (yes, Asia Argento the film actress). Elsewhere, just like a “real” soundtrack, there are several incidental pieces and full band instrumental explorations that develop repeating themes and motifs over the album’s forty minutes. While I probably won’t be listening to Musique de Film Imagine as frequently as other BJM releases from the past 20 years, it still works well as a cohesive piece of film music, reminding me of Air’s soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides or perhaps some of Tindersticks’ soundtracks for Claire Denis’ films.
If you’ve been following Dengue Fever’s music for the past decade, then chances are good you know exactly what to expect from Deepest Lake. The band’s fifth full length gives listeners ten additional slices of their trademark mix of surf pop, garage rock and psychedelia, with Chhom Nimol’s distinctive Khmer-language vocals still the their defining feature. You won’t find any major shake-ups or curveballs on Deepest Lake’s grooves outside of the song “No Sudden Moves” which delivers minor surprises in the form of a brief rap section and some 60s’styled horns that have me thinking the band would make good touring partners with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings. Besides that Deepest Lake is business as usual for the band, albeit with a sharper production than I’ve heard on any of their other albums. Although that’s not enough to make it a vital album that will be the cornerstone of many music collections for decades to come, Deepest Lake is undoubtedly good fun and that’s enough for me to recommend it.
I don’t know who your favorite psychedelic band from Greece is, but mine is the mighty Acid Baby Jesus. Selected Recordings is the band’s second full length album, and it’s a pretty goddamn wild trip. Where a lot of modern psychedelic bands are content to simply work within the genre’s preconceived boundaries, these guys seem legitimately weird which makes a huge difference. Where the band’s first album had a garage rock vibe that reminded me of Ty Segall, Selected Recordings is almost uniformly dedicated to drugged up drone-rock damage. Songs like “Diogenes”, “Night of Pan” and “Ayahuasca Blues” have me thinking of The Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” but with a modern production and Spacemen 3-like dedication to achieving some kind of noisy nirvana meant to replicate (or enhance) the drug experience. “Who’s First” represents an outlier on the album, sounding like an obscure single from the early days of California punk. Oh, and the lyrics have something to do with a gay cop looking to give someone oral sex. You certainly won’t hear that on the next Foxygen album! Two songs later “Troublemaker” blasts your brain with a Sabbath-y heaviness that’s always welcome. Selected Recordings has cool sounds and cool songs, so check it out.
Pre- (r)amble: Well, 2014 wasn’t such a great year for music, was it? The problem with this year is the same from recent years – the bands I like from my late-’90s/early-’00s young adulthood are largely slumping and there aren’t enough high-quality young bands arriving on the scene to take their place. If I’m correct, ten of the fifteen albums listed below are from artists in their forties, or beyond. That said, there were still a lot of really good releases, and here are my Top 15. Enjoy!
1. Mark Lanegan – Phantom Radio (Vagrant)