Ex-Brian Jonestown Massacre man Joel Gion has stepped out on his own with 'Apple Bonkers', which extends itself to a variety of aesthetics expected and unexpected, from shoegaze to folk country and good ol' psych rock. With some love from his friends in the Brian Jonestown Massacre collective, 'Apple Bonkers' got produced and turned into a record proper. It also features contributions from Dandy Warhol Pete Holmstrom and Asteroid Ryan Van Kriedt.
Tracks:Yes Smile Hairy Flowers Dart Change My Mind Mirage Radio Silence Two Daisies Sail On Don’t Let The Fuckers Bring You Down
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- Apple Bonkers by Joel Gion
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'Apple Bonkers' is a terrible name for an album, isn't it? It sounds like an American trying to pretend he's Syd Barrett. Well this week that American is Joel Gion, best known as tambourine player and longest-enduring non-Anton member of the legendary Brian Jonestown Massacre, but this ain't an album of tambourine solos. Oh no. This is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a collection of whimsical strummy psych-pop that falls somewhere between the aforementioned Barrett and BJM, with a little sprinkle of the Kinks thrown in.
Which is to say that it's actually rather good. The songs are uncluttered and fairly simple but the arrangements are often quite grand, with a mixture of strummy acoustic guitars and fuzzy electric ones, and every song has some kind of keyboard/organ/Mellotron which sets the songs floating on cushiony drones. There's some uplifting brass on 'Hairy Flowers', an Irish bouzouki on smoky ballad 'Change My Mind' - it's a full-sounding and tastefully produced concoction with a whatever-best-serves-the-song approach that's bound to draw comparisons to Gion's other band.
Despite these big arrangements, however, Gion's approach is more understated and thoughtful and 'Apple Bonkers' is still very much a singer-songwriter LP at heart. His habit of short rhyming couplets can seem a bit clunky sometimes but the other side of the coin is that the simplicity is part of what makes these songs so charming. My instant highlight is the post-grungey 'Radio Silence' with its weird off-key vocals and oceans of reverb (which with the slightly shoegazey 'Sail On' and stripped haze-rocker 'Don't Let The Fuckers Get You Down' make for an excellent closing salvo). If you're a fan of '60s-inspired psych-pop and the BJM in particular, you could well be pleasantly surprised by this one.
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