Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band – Black Power Flowerde en

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 Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band - Black Power Flower

Brant Bjorks multifaceted return as frontman

Black Power Flower

Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band

Almost four and a half years after the release of Gods & Goddesses and extensive touring and recording with Kyuss Lives / Vista Chino Brant Bjork (finally) returns to his guitar and microphone. Behind the somewhat clunky name Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band hides – yet again – an incestuous Desert-Rock supergroup. Alongside desert dwellers Dave Dinsmore, bassist of Ché and Fatso Jetson drummer Tony Tornay, the second guitar is played by Bubba Dupree, an east coast punk-rocker best known for his work in Void. The relaxed, groovy vibe of Gods & Goddesses has given way to a much more raw, fuzzy and doom-inspired sound on Black Power Flower.

This impression is already built up in the first seconds of the opener Contollers Destroyed. After a very slow and extremely heavy intro with Geezer-esque bass playing, one is almost tempted to chant the lyrics of War Pigs. The fuzzy guitar and Bjork’s rough, almost croaking singing however quickly brings the listener back to the arid desert ground. Also the listener immediately reckons in the first lines of the lyrics, that Bjork’s style of singing is different but the lyrics are socio-critical as always. We Don’t Serve Their Kind is a much more typical Brant Bjork song. Most of the track is driven by a brisk and infectious riff. Only after the second chorus the tempo gets reduced with an extended instrumental part. Again, Dinsmore lays down a furious and varied bass line that outshines the also respectable guitar solo of Dupree. For Stokely Up Now the Low Desert Punks turned up the Fuzz again, so that Bjork has to shout out loud in order to cope with the wall of instrumental power. The track surprises with a guitar lick in the chorus that would rather be expected in European Heavy-Psych (eg. Mother Engine). What follows with Buddha Time is a piece, which turns out far less suitable for ascetic meditation practices than the title suggests. Actually, the listener gets quite the opposite – a fine Fu Manchu-esque song. Beneath the wall of rhythm guitar and bass, Dupree plays a solo-like lead in the exact style of Bob Balch.

With Soldier of Love and Boogie Woogie On Your Brain the Low Desert Punks reach the short low point in their otherwise very strong. While the former is a solid Bjork-typical song, that would’ve been better with one or two minutes less in length, the latter completely fails to satisfy. The play with feedback, the confusing changes of sound between verses and chorus, as well as the brutal, superficial but unfortunately also simple drumming of Tornay doesn’t manage to convince – at least not the humble author of this review. In the first half of the record, the Fatso Jetson drummer disappoints a bit. Whoever has seen the band live in the last weeks, will attest that Tornay literally beats up his drum kit. Unfortunately that power fails to emerge on the final mix most of the time. But as if he noticed the doubt, he breaks loose of his chains in Ain’t No Runnin‘ and suddenly plays much more free and light – a welcome change. Overall, the crisp, „Dr. Special „-like song functions revitalizing. The track provokes mellow head-whipping through a powerful, but at the same time groovy riff and his casual singing. This balancing act between heaviness and laid-backness is emphasized and mastered again in That’s A Fact Jack. In the verses, the fuzz-laden rhythm guitar stands back behind a playful, Wah-Wah-dripping lead just to tear everything down in the chorus. Only the powerful bass slides of Dinsmore provide some stability.

Hustler Blues is clearly divided into two parts, too – only this time the break is in the middle of the song. The first half gets on (almost completely) without fuzz and celebrates the blues with a bassy groove and Bjork’s reverb treated voice. On the chorus, in which Bjork is asking the more than appropriate question „How do you say no to a woman that makes you tea?“, follows a three-minute guitar solo, which could’ve come from Bruno Fevery’s hands (Vista Chino). Tornay seizes the reigns over the sprawling solo by successively increasing the tempo and force of his blows and turns the almost forgotten blues into a dirty and punky Hendrix tune. With more than eight minutes Where You From Man is the longest but also most simple song on Black Power Flower. This track is all about worshipping the riff. There is nothing wrong with that, when the riffs are so damn good. The lyrics, which are spoken during the main arrangement are constructed dialogically. Bjork repetitively asks his interlocutor with a spacey voice where he’s from. Usually he has to content himself with a laconic „Hell Yeah“ or an sustained „Shiiiit“ as response – the most satisfactory version is a „Not from here, man.“. In order to give the listener time to process this almost platonic dialogue, an approximately four-minute quieter part including a Wah-Wah solo is fitted in before the last return to the initial reef.

Overall, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band have created a surprisingly heavy and fuzzy, yet varied album with Black Power Flower. Bjork embraces many influences from his post-Kyuss days (namely Fu Manchu, Ché, Vista Chino, solo) with this band and enriches them with Doom accents. At this place Dinsmore’s performance on the bass deserves a special praise. On the contentual and personal level, however, he seems to have remained completely true to himself – that is visible through the lyrics which are partly comedic, as on Keep Your Cool, but often socio-critical as on the Somera Sól. Close to this years end the Low Desert Punks have delivered a stunning album, which will be found in quite a few Top-10 lists of 2014.

1. Controllers Destroyed
2. We Don’t Serve Their Kind
3. Stokely Up Now
4. Buddha Time (Everything Fine)
5. Soldier of Love
6. Boogie Woogie On Your Brain
7. Ain’t No Runnin‘
8. That’s A Fact Jack
9. Hustler’s Blues (not featured on the vinyl edition)
10. Where You From Man (not featured on the vinyl edition)

Running time: 49:21 min

You should listen to: We Don’t Serve Their Kind, Hustler Blues

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(14 votes, average: 8,14 out of 10)

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