Brant Bjork
"Local Angel"

(Duna Records 2004)Brant Bjork - Local Angel

Brant Bjork has a lot to say on "Local Angel," the fourth album and most recent release from the man who is best known in the "mainstream" for his drumming (Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Mondo Generator) but has well proved himself as a solo artist. With his smooth style and mellow tone, listening to the album is almost like sitting down with him as he shares some personal thoughts and telling stories to an old friend. It just so happens those stories are set to music that is so rhythmic, even on the number of slower tracks, that your foot is tapping, literally, before you realize it.

The album's overall tone is soft and introspective, a fact that is well reflected in the opening track "Beautiful Powers" which is solely made up of Bjork's soft vocals and an understated guitar riff. Thumping bass opens "Hippie," continuing the low-key sound but with the addition of guitar and drums, returning to Bjork's expected rock groove feel. Memorable and likable, "Chico" proves less really can be more with acoustic guitar and vocals. "The Feelin'" kicks in after the first verse before he ends, repeating "I've got to be free." "Bliss Ave." offers a bit of déjà vu as Bjork lifts the catchy riff from "Hey, Monkey Boy" (off Bjork's previous album "Keep Your Cool"), this time adding more serious vocals and a brief jam section as the song evolves smartly.

Like, "Beautiful Powers," "Fly To Haiti" is simple and understated with muted instrumentation contrasting "You're Alright," which uses fuller instrumentation and a quick groove. Gentle with intricate guitar, "Spanish Flies" paints a romantic picture of sunsets and living by the ocean. "She's Only Tryin'" bounces in broader, brighter and likable while the gentle "The Good Fight" keeps a steady pace. Bjork ties the album together with two covers, "Hey Joe," best known as performed by Jimi Hendrix, and The Ramones' "I Want You Around." Not even attempting "Hey Joe" in Hendrix's style, Bjork smartly puts his own spin on the song, lacing it with a moody rhythm before making "I Want You Around" a heartfelt acoustic song.

Bjork keeps "Local Angel" focused and as tight as the clothes he sings about on "Chico." While he always releases albums that distinguish themselves from one another, "Local Angel" is especially unique: intimate, understated and reflective. Bjork does not have to rock hard to make great music.

A

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