Even before you know it’s self-titled, and even before you read the LP liner notes, you know it’s all Brant Bjork.
The man who has become the ambassador of Californian desert rock indeed plays every instrument across his 13th studio full-length, Brant Bjork. This in itself is something of a departure from recent offerings, as on 2018’s Mankind Woman, Bjork worked closely with guitarist Bubba DuPree (Void), and both 2016’s Tao of the Devil and 2014’s Black Power Flower were constructed around the Bjork-led Low Desert Punk Band.
Maybe revisiting his 1999 debut, Jalamanta, for a Heavy Psych Sounds 20th anniversary reissue last year had some effect on Bjork’s mindset in terms of working solo, but he’s come too far in the ensuing decades to repeat himself, and the songs on Brant Bjork – recorded and mixed by Yosef Sanborn in Joshua Tree and mixed by John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet) – show that, whether it’s the mellow roll of “Duke of Dynamite” or the signature take on classic heavy rock in “Jesus Was a Bluesman” and percussion-backed funk of opener “Jungle in the Sound.” There’s no mistaking Brant Bjork, and on Brant Bjork, he strips his songwriting style to its core and brings out the organic vibe that’s made him desert rock’s most crucial practitioner.
His legacy and pedigree are unmatched, with tenures in Kyuss/Vista Chino and Fu Manchu as well as the sadly-shortlived Ché, Ten East and others, but it is Brant Bjork’s solo work that has had his greatest impact and shown him to be of inimitable character in craft and style. His unrelenting creativity and one-of-a-kind voice are writ large over the Brant Bjork LP, which is precisely how it should be, and after more than two decades of exploring out in the sands, Bjork continues to find new ways to manifest not just the landscape of the desert, but the spirit of his relationship to it.
In short, he is a master, and this is the record that bears his name. You miss it at your own peril.
1. JUNGLE IN THE SOUND
2. MARY (YOU’RE SUCH A LADY)
3. JESUS WAS A BLUESMAN
4. CLEANING OUT THE ASHTRAY
5. DUKE OF DYNAMITE
6. SHITKICKIN' NOW
7. STARDUST & DIAMOND EYES
8. BEEN SO LONG