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Kenneth McMurtrie

Kenneth McMurtrie

Joel Gion - Apple Bonkers

A pivotal figure in the Brian Jonestown Massacre for many years, Joel Gion is likely though known to many as some variant of "the tambourine guy", being as on-stage he mainly wields one of those and appears to fill a role somewhere between that of bandleader and mascot.

On Apple Bonkers, however, he clearly comes into his own as a writer and performer of blissfully psychedelic rock. Opening track 'Yes' has had its Suitably out-there (but sexy too) video doing the rounds on youtube for some months now but was curiously reposted just in June & so is languishing with fewer than 400 views at time of writing. Whatever the politics of that decision it's here to view:-

Second track 'Smile' really opens things up, however, with its insistent drums and downbeat chorus of an expression of love against the odds. Working with BJM members both past & present Collin Hegna and Rob Campanella (who shared production duties), Daniel Allaire, Matt Hollywood, Jeffrey Davies and Miranda Lee Richards and with input from Pete Holmstrom of The Dandy Warhols, Ryan Van Kriedt of Dead Skeletons and Jason “Plucky” Anchondo of Warlocks this is an impressive album from an impressive team.

Consistently upbeat the ten tracks draw you into Gion's world of double-tracking, well deployed brass & strings and that all important feeling that the late '60s are a lot closer at hand than they are in actuality. As with the best of the genre though this is no overly wistful and teary eyed look back at some supposed golden era but, much like the best of the BJM material, a continuation of and expansion upon that historic starting point.

'Change My Mind' initially introduces some melancholy to the midway point of the album but, as is often the case herein, the rising vocals & tempo change towards the song's end once more restore the general stance of the work to a positive footing. Ending on the fantastic 'Don't Let The Fuckers Bring You Down' sets the seal on the enterprise.

Additional to the album Gion already has out the non-album 7" 'Overthrow'/'Night Of The Living Deadbeats', the a-side of which is featured here:-


Gion & his supporting players will be on the road in the UK and then on the US west coast in the coming months so keep an eye out for dates and head along for what promises to be an engaging time.

Apple Bonkers will be released on September 1 and available from amazon and iTunes.

Trwbador - Several Wolves


Album number two from the Welsh/Dutch duo exhibits a conscious move away from the glitchy folk of their debut self-titled full-length.

First single 'Breakthrough' finds them collaborating with ESSA aka Yungun as the UK hip hopper raps all over the song to good effect, heralding the further changes to come later on the album.

A concept album of the human condition, as personally experienced by Angharad Van Rijswijk and Owain Gwilym, does though initially begin much in the vein you'd expect from knowing their previous work - 'Side By Side' and 'Start Your Car' having the angelic vocals, acoustic guitar work and minimal electronic input of old. Yet by the time you get to just past the halfway point track six, 'CO2', you'll need to check you've not got on a new Ladytron album by mistake, such is the weight of the beats & electronica used therein.

Pastoral charms are displayed immediately afterwards on the more conventional 'Blue Minds', making for a rather uneven landing after the leap from one style to another, which is a problem with the album as a whole. Whilst it's apparently been designed to fit together as a whole there's not the uninterrupted flow from beginning to end that that idea would suggest you can expect. Then again this could be deliberate to represent emotional changes wrought by experiencing the conditional issues each track is based around.

The duo can certainly easily have their feet in both the folky and the austere, Knife-like electronica camps so live shows to promote the album could certainly offer up a more varied experience than previously seen. The album itself though could have done with a bit more thought in the ordering of the songs.  

Several Wolves will be released on August 11 and available from iTunes.

The band play the following shows later in the year:-
21st Sept: Laugharne Festival
23rd Sept: Telfords Warehouse, Chester
14th Oct: The Social, London
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