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November 16, 2004

Yo man, does that van have captain's chairs?

As Christmas music creeps across the land, local oldies stations competing with knives out to be the first 24/7 jingle pimp, it's nice to know the stoners have something saving in store for us. Ah, those stoners. Wispy moustaches, rumpled pearl snap shirts, teardop window vans - they have it all, and the outlook to match.

First up is Black Mountain (wisely re-named from Jerk With a Bomb), the latest project from Vancouver-area weirdo Stephen McBean, who also leads Pink Mountaintops. Black Mountain's self-titled Jagjaguwar debut "busts open half-lidded Velvet Underground fetishisms with squalls of Blue Cheer guitar, and further channels the heady sounds of the late '60s with a moodily dwelling organ". It's a referential sound, but one that comforts by being part of the sixties canon while slicing into it with melting guitar strings and the collective influence of two decades of indie rock. This isn't just music to smoke to - it's music that makes smoke.

Sitting in the passenger seat is Anton Newcombe, spirtual leader and perpetual saboteur of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. To capitalize on Newcombe and the group's exposure transfusion as a result of the hit documentary Dig!, Tee Pee has issued Tepid Peppermint Wonderland. It's a remarkably strong collection, with old stuff, new stuff, and rarities all mingling in the pleasant purple blur of Anton's aura. For BJM old schoolers, Tepid Peppermint is a Sound Design mix tape, the noise reduction circled and tabs popped out. All that's missing for them is some elaborately-scrawled nonrepresentational ballpoint pen art. But for anyone wondering just what the fuck all the fuss about Jonestown is - or those intrigued by Anton's admittedly bananas behavior during most of Dig! - the set is a perfect place to start. "Over the years, [BJM] have gotten more mileage out of their self-sabotage than they have ink spilled on their shambolic musical blend of the Stones, Velvets, and Summer of Love-derived transcendence...But [an album like Tepid Peppermint] closes with "Sue", eight minutes that put Newcombe and Brian Jonestown Massacre's most central themes - drugs, drone, dirt, and melody - into epic relief".

Not even Christmas music can keep the stoner nation down.


Posted by Johnny Loftus at November 16, 2004 10:19 AM