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Brian Jonestown Massacre: still frayed, still imperfect, still out on their own

Anton Newcombe and Brian Jonestown Massacre return with another set of down-and-dirty rock’n’roll

Brian Jonestown Massacre: Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees cover art
(Image: © A)

After 30 years as one of the most recognisably frayed edges of the fringes of the rock scene, Brian Jonestown Massacre’s sole constant, frontman Anton Newcombe, is showing no signs of suddenly going any way but his own. 

Recorded in a flurry of inspiration after a period of writer’s block, Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees is reassuringly raw, grimy and swimming in a sense of undefined, itchy urgency. The album was written on the hop, Newcombe spilling his brains right onto tape, and it shows – imperfections are made into a positive, the songs allowed to just naturally come into being. 

With fuzz and feedback piled high, It’s About Being Free Really, the anchor of the first half, dances around the Bo Diddley beat without quite committing, a louche slice of countrified rock’n’roll that refuses to be swayed by the demands of the 21st century. 

Before And Afterland, meanwhile, combines Velvet Underground dirge with psych freak-outs. Riffs are loose and leary, straight from the darkest corners of the garage, vocals are given wobbly free range, and, in a time of airbrushed perfection , maybe that’s just what the doctor ordered.

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.