I’ve seen some call it the band’s 19th, others highlight it as their 20th. Either way, with Your Future Is Your Past, The Brian Jonestown Massacre is closing in on two dozen LPs. Given the album’s title, I think it’s appropriate to take a quick look back.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre is an American psychedelic rock band that formed in San Francisco in 1990. Founder and lead vocalist Anton Newcombe has been the constant driving force behind the band’s sound and creative direction across all 33 years.
Over the years, their music style has ranged from garage rock to shoegaze, folk, and psychedelic rock. Early albums, such as Methodrone and Thank God for Mental Illness, featured lo-fi, droning, and heavily distorted guitar sounds that were influenced by 1960s psychedelia and garage rock as well as the original shoegaze movement. In contrast, their later albums, such as My Bloody Underground and Revelation, featured a more polished and refined sound that incorporated more modern elements of shoegaze, folk, and even electronic music.
Louder Than War calls out some familiar terms when it comes to Brian Jonestown Massacre, but highlights the album’s — and, frankly EACH BJM album’s — uniqueness:
With some big anthemic tunes, it’s full of droning guitars, mesmerizing rhythms, swirling keys, and rolling drums fills all of which have characterized so much of their output over the years. But having said that, no two albums have ever sounded remotely similar, and each has its own character.The Future is Your Past Album of the Week [Louder Than War, 2023]
So, The Brian Jonestown Massacre is constantly evolving with each new album confronting and experimenting with different sounds and genres while staying true to the defining ambiance Newcombe has personified throughout his career. BJM has been described as “hypnotic,” “unpredictable,” and “transcendent.” And they have developed a loyal fan base that appreciates their eclectic approach to indie and psychedelic rock.
On The Future is Your Past, several BJM mainstays rear their heads: psychedelic rock, garage rock, folk rock, to name a few. But there’s also hints of jangle that we haven’t really seen all to much from Newcombe’s projects in a while. The result is something that, as you’d expect, is both forward looking while reminiscent of long-time favorites. It feels put-together and cohesive, and I’m not the only to recognize this.
The Best Tracks on The Future is Your Past
In a Clash Music review by Nick Roseblade, the critic writes, “The Future Is Your Past is the most consistent album Newcombe has released since Methodrone.”
I recently said something similar about the new Yo La Tengo album This Stupid World. And that is this: There really aren’t any overly weak points on the album, just tracks that aren’t quite as good as the ones that truly stand out. Early favorites include “Nothing Can Stop the Sound,” “Fudge,” “As the Carousel Swings,” and “Stuck to Yous.”
“Fudge” is an early favorite and a prime example of the band’s ability to create immersive and emotionally evocative music that pushes the boundaries of traditional rock music. One part cryptic, another subdued yet powerful, Newcombe conveys a sense of longing and melancholy that’s easy to connect with. And the lush instrumentation is both atmospheric and sonic.
Closing track “Stuck to Yous” stands out as both a catchy and upbeat, featuring a driving rhythm section, jangly guitars, and a hook-filled vocal melody that will absolutely get stuck in your head. Playful and flirtatious, the song conveying a sense of infatuation and desire. As with most songs on The Future is Your Past, “Stuck to Yous” connects band’s ability to blend elements of 60s psychedelic rock with modern indie rock sensibilities, creating a captivating sound that is, and has always been, all their own.
The LP comes on clear wax with a simple illustrated gatefold sleeve and a BJM branded box of crayons for the owner to color themselves. Pretty damn cool if you ask me!
The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Best Album in Decades
Many are calling this the best BJM album in decades, and it’s easy to hear why. I’m starting to believe it, though time will tell. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.
And don’t forget to check out my video covering this album review below as well…