Album Review: Joel Gion - 'Apple Bonkers'.

'Apple Bonkers' is the 2014 full length offering from Joel Gion. The title does sound a little bit like a flamboyant cocktail and the music itself is similarly enjoyable and...well vibrant I suppose. For those of you not in the know, Joel Gion was a member of the quite fantastic The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Here, he was mostly a tambourine player but was a key member of the band with his endearing vivacity (as portrayed in cult documentary Dig!) and general likeability. His role there meant we didn't really get to see Joel (we're on first name terms) utilise his more creative side.

Fortunately, Joel decided to pursuit a solo career and it's certainly much better than I expected it to be. It's incredibly enjoyable and makes for easy listening. Don't get me wrong, you won't find the soul searching lyrics of Cohen on this record. Although in a way, that's to the album's strength. All 10 tracks are solid enough to stand on their own funky little hind-legs and boogie down to the offie for a bottle of Bucky.

Opener 'Yes' and later track 'Dart' are both great examples of the influence working within The Brian Jonestown Massacre has had on Joel's creative output. Both very psychedelic numbers,  oozing with positivity as they slide along to the drone effect of Joel's voice.

'Change My Mind' is a much more emotive affair. It has sorrowful backing vocals and a multitude of instruments that give the song an air of depth you perhaps wouldn't associate with a lifelong percussionist, even if they've worked with the brilliant Anton Newcombe for so long. My personal highlight on the album is 'Radio Silence'. I feared this might whimper into an almost 'drone music by numbers' song but the faster paced guitar and thudding drums give life to a great garage rock song. Fade out track 'Don't Let The Fuckers Get You Down' is the perfect outro with its sanguine manner. Jangling acoustic guitars battle against the stubborn riff in-between Joel pleading you to not let said fuckers get in your head.

Joel's found and somewhat perfected a long-standing recipe here; crucially he has only used what he has needed without adding anything superfluous to the mix. Joel isn't a particularly powerful singer, so he uses his voice as a backing to compliment the overall mood of the music - with aplomb too. The psychedelic/drone influence here is evident but without sounding copied. It would have been very easy for him to churn out 10 records that are effectively the same song with slightly different lyrics, instead Joel has reached out beyond a plethora of mediocre music of a similar nature and crafted quite a brilliant record. It's as affable as he is and with exceptionally well-rounded production.

Album review by Jake Collins

'Apple Bonkers' was released August 18 (UK) / 19 (US) 2014 via a co-release between The Reverberation Appreciation Society and The Committee To Keep Music Evil.

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