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RATING: 9/10 – TOP TRASH

I’ll start by saying the Brian Jonestown Massacre are one of my favorite bands, so I may need to wipe the drool off my face at points. They’re one of the rare bands who manage to operate the way John Peel described The Fall: “always different, always the same.” Though ringleader Anton Newcombe dons and tosses musical hats at will – now droning shoegazers, now sneering British Invaders – they always manage to be instantly recognizable. “Aufheben,” though distinct from rockier past efforts, isn’t a kaleidoscopic tour of everything the way “Who Killed Sgt. Pepper” was. The album hones in, laser-like, on a stoned Eastern drone-rock sound; all triple-layered vocals as on “Seven Kinds of Wonderful,” and BJM’s celebrated penchant for sitar as on “Face Down on the Moon,” but this buzzing electric haze is paired with a Krautrock-y rhythm section, sharp drums and a strong focus on beat drive “Illuminomi” and “Vilholliseni Maalla.”

Overall, this record follows the pattern laid down by 2008 effort “My Bloody Underground.” Though often maligned, that album worked for its success in establishing mood – this album works (better than its stylistic father) because of its insistent focus on groove. This is a double-edged sword, though: when it works, it really fucking works – tracks like “Stairway to the Best Party in the Universe” can hang with the band’s absolute best, but the propensity for jams sometimes leads the band into tracks like the opener, which spins its wheels for 4 minutes without really doing much. It’s a minority occurrence, for sure. Though some tracks can feel empty initially (Anton seems to be minimizing his presence here – vocals are subdued or obscured, if present at all), overall “Aufheben” just seems to be more focused than any other Jonestown album on sheer soundscape (for evidence, see the opening to “Blue Order/New Monday”), rather than ‘rock’ or ‘lyrics’, and so this is unquestionably an album that demands several plays and attentive listening before it unfolds its secret psychedelic jam mojo – I confess I needed three plays before the torrent of technicolor headfuckery inside this record came pouring out.

“Aufheben” appears to me to be the mark of veteran musicians, masters of their craft, yet thankfully slaving hard to push their sound forward. Jonestown are utterly their own band at this point. This record, a subtle, sonically rich tab of pure LSD merely posing as a new album, sounds like nothing else that will be released this year. 13 albums in, BJM show no signs of slowing down.

LISTEN: http://soundcloud.com/cargorecords/sets/bjm/s-jo7fb

BUY: Widely available; try google.

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More! More! More!RATING: 7.75/10

Howdy folks

I switched to wordpress, but I won’t waste time on that, because Auxes aren’t wasting any time with this new LP. The first track, appropriately titled “I Can’t Pause It,” sets the tone – nervous scratchy guitars, rushing drums, and the seriously tweaked out vocals of Manuel Wertz. Wertz can’t tell if he’s crazy, you’re crazy, or he’s crazy for thinking your crazy, but it hardly matters when the Auxes is train is running straight into your fucking ears at 300 mph.

The record has touches of MILEMARKER, but it’s faster and stripped of the post-punk muddling that sometimes marred that band – this is all bones and barbed wire intensity. The endless churn of angular, yet oddly solid riffing, combined with the strange speak-y ranty vocals recalls NATION OF ULYSSES, but without the propensity for utter noise and winking irony.

The band has a knack for compelling chanted vocals, as on “Bad Cats, Nine Lives,” which features some really cool shouts of “control! control!” It’s really anybody’s guess what Wertz is getting at, but when it’s delivered with this such paranoiac energy, who cares? His vocals feel slightly more restrained than on 2010 effort “Ichkannichtmehr,” which is sad, but he’s still a cut above his peers.

Though Auxes have the right elements in place, their bag of tricks can be limited. The title track has great intensity, but it’s barely distinguishable from “Bad Cats.” Tracks like “It’s Not About You” or Side B standout “Paranoia,” with it’s bizarre “meow meow meow” bridge cut through the wall-to-wall spin-cycle riffs, but it can be hard to catch your breath with “More! More! More!” This is great for live shows, and I do really hope to catch these guys at some point, but it makes for an exhausting home listen.

The surging hardcore energy of “Tit For Tat” is reminiscent of a BRAIN F/ with a stronger melodic sensibility, as “Something’s Wrong” is straight from the playbook of punk elder squad OFF! (as is the Pettibon style cover art) – this band shares the instrumental competency lacking in most hardcore bands, and also benefits from lyrics that don’t read like half-baked political commentary. Auxes know their strengths, but I only wish they’d taken a few more risks – they do what they do really well, but this LP is a pretty similar play to their last one…sometimes there’s more energy and tension in a calm repose before the storm than  in all the world’s winds and thunderclaps.

LISTEN/BUY: http://auxes.bandcamp.com/album/more-more-more

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