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Brant Bjork - Local Angel (2004)
Brant Bjork (born March 19, 1973) is an American musician from Palm Desert, California. A drummer, guitarist, vocalist, and producer, he is perhaps best known as the drummer of the influential Californian stoner rock band Kyuss.
Bjork currently performs in Vista Chino, formerly Kyuss Lives!, along with former members of Kyuss. He is one of the more notable figures in the stoner rock and Palm Desert scenes.
Bjork began recording his first solo album, 1999's Jalamanta in February 1999. Bjork performed all instruments, including guitar and vocals. He would also perform guitar and vocals in the short-lived stoner rock band Ché - a side-project collaboration with former Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age drummer Alfredo Hernández. Ché released their only album, Sounds of Liberation in October 2000. Bjork's next album, 2002's Brant Bjork & the Operators, named for Bjork's fictional backing band, 'the Operators', was recorded in November 2000 with Bjork again performing vocals and most instruments. He would continue to be the sole performer, except for a few guest spots, on 2003's Keep Your Cool and 2004's Local Angel.
Bjork would form the band Brant Bjork and the Bros in 2003, featuring guitarist Mike Pygmie, bassist Dylan Roche, and drummer Michael Peffer, with Bjork performing vocals and additional guitar. They toured Europe in October 2003, performing a mixture of Bjork's solo material and Ché's Sounds of Liberation. Pygmie was replaced by Scott Cortez for further touring in Europe and North America in 2004. This line-up went on to record the 2005 double album Saved by Magic. The album featured a return to the sound of Bjork's earlier sound from his Jalamanta/Sounds of Liberation era.
2006 saw the release of Sabbia, a feature film "visual soundtrack" by filmmaker Kate McCabe, featuring Bjork's music. Brant Bjork and the Bros would go on to record another album, 2007's Somera Sól, with Alfredo Hernández replacing Michael Peffer on drums. In the same year, Bjork released his fifth solo album, Tres Dias, an acoustic album featuring reinterpretations of older songs, as well as some new material. The title of the album (Three Days) comes from the purported amount of time that Bjork claimed it took to record it at producer Tony Mason's house in Joshua Tree, California.
Bjork also reported in 2007 that he had ended his label, Duna Records, citing that it took too much time and energy to run. Bjork soon created a new label, Low Desert Punk Recordings, and the Duna Records website now functions as a Brant Bjork community fansite and forum. The first release on the new label was Bjork's 2008 album, Punk Rock Guilt, made up of recordings from December 2005 referred to as the "New Jersey Sessions". This release was followed up with the 2010 album Gods & Goddesses. Recorded in LA in 2009, Gods & Goddesses was the first Brant Bjork solo album not to be primarily recorded by Bjork himself. Instead, Bjork recorded with a new line-up of musicians including guitarist Brandon Henderson, former Yawning Man bassist Billy Cordell, and former Mondo Generator drummer Giampaolo Farnedi.
A new solo record entitled Jacuzzi is mixed and planned for release in late 2013. The album will be all instrumental featuring jazz and funk influences with break beats.
Review by Guy Peters:
Quote:I stopped smoking grass years ago. When I listen to this album, I wish I never had. If Keep Your Cool is one of the grooviest albums ever to grace my ears, this one might be one of the mellowest. In fact, it's twice as calm and intimate as anything he's ever done before, so if those efforts didn't work for you because you missed the spark of crushing guitars and rumbling rhythm sections, you're gonna consider this the aural equivalent of catatonia. Perhaps, the J.J. of the low desert has indeed been a bit lazy this time around, as Local Angel is so carefree and loose, sounding so tossed-off, that it didn't even bother to pack a decent bunch of interesting ideas, riffs, melodies, or whatever it takes to become something I'd recommend wholeheartedly. The problem isn't the sound, as becomes clear from the first songs onwards. The Rancho de la Luna studio still does the trick and most songs feature a comfortably warm sound, with especially the bass being very nice, which is a plus if you're not using drums, like in opener "Beautiful Powers," a dreamy slice of soul featuring a jazzy solo that's mellower than any vaseline-song by Steely Dan. "Hippie," one of the album highlights, got the appropriate music to fit the title: a simple, thumping bass line and a nifty wah wah-solo halfway the song - although I don't remember why it switches to another song (or jam) after the 4:00-mark. Equally groovy are "Bliss Ave.," basically an extended version of Keep Your Cool's "Hey, Monkey Boy" and "The Good Fight," the stomping song that closes the album with an unlikely opening line like "I'm like boiling water, you better get out of my way." Unfortunately, the other songs on the album don't live up to these songs, although there's nothing repulsive or failed about 'em. "Chico" and "Spanish Tiles" are mainly acoustic, and while the first one almost seems to offer a caricature of the stoner life (hangin' out, smokin' weed, getting' fired for bein' lazy, etc), the second one could've done with a bit more muscle. The same's basically true for songs like "You're Alright" and "She's Only Tryin'," songs that might do the job if this is your introduction to Bjork's brand of minimalism, but are certainly a bit slight compared to earlier stuff. "You're Alright" boasts some fine wah wah and Cool-style, but something tells me this is but a decent variation on earlier themes, while also "She's Only Tryin'" falls a bit short of the mark, with a chorus that's a bit too reminiscent of "My Ghettoblaster" from his second album. You won't hear a negative word about Bjork coming out of my mouth - he was a sweet guy when I spoke to him earlier this year and delivered one of the best gigs I've seen the past years - but I really feel he could've been better this time around. It doesn't have to live up to the awesome groove-fests his gigs can be, but I'd rather not be confronted with this version of the stoner aesthetic either and Local Angel definitely could've done with a bit more creative input.
Quote:01 - Beautiful Powers
02 - Hippe
03 - Chico
04 - The Feelin'
05 - Bliss Ave.
06 - Fly to Haiti
07 - You're Alright
08 - Spanish Tiles
09 - She's Only Tryin'
10 - The Good Flight
11 - Hey Joe
12 - I Want You Around