An American in Berlin (and one of the best albums yet of 2018)

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In the aftermath of celebrity chef/writer/traveler/TV host/cool dude Anthony Bourdain’s tragic suicide, news channel CNN elected to continue airing the remaining episodes of Mr. Bourdain’s series Parts Unknown. A recent segment, showcasing the city of Berlin, features a guy named Anton Newcombe, founder and frontman of the band known as the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Born in California but now making his home in Berlin, Anton Newcombe formed the band in San Francisco in 1990…and has not stopped since. Doing his own thing his own way, the guy has released 17 albums under the Brian Jonestown Massacre name, toured the world, produced works by other artists, built his own studio in Berlin, and formed a record label with, according to Newcombe, “175 catalog numbers.”

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Now in mid-2018, say hello to Something Else, the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 17th studio album…and one of the most incredible releases so far this year. Elements of Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Stone Roses, Echo and the Bunnymen, and the Velvet Underground all coagulate into an intensely ear-catching casserole of nine tracks, beginning with the just-drum-heavy-enough groove of “Hold That Thought” and culminating with the eight-minute-long, Syd Barrett-meets-“Venus in Furs” exercise “Silent Stream.” In between are some of the most perfectly-crafted sounds of 2018: “Psychic Lips” recalls that Echo vibe; “Animal Wisdom,” the album’s only instrumental, flashes Brian Jones-era (but of course) Stones guitars over a delicious organ drone; Guided By Voices crash into the Fall (well drummer Karl Burns anyway) on “Skin and Bones”; psychedelic percussion and more Jones-y guitars drive the radiant “My Love,” which segues into the ever-present question, “Who dreams of cats?”.

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The Brian Jonestown Massacre will be on tour in Europe from August through October, so if you happen to be over on that side of the world…

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Images courtesy,,,


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