Okay, I actually heard “Friendlies” first, before seeking out and slipping into “Right On.” Both are from the duo Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe. No fancy band name or gimmicks. Just a female vocalist from Toronto, now based in London, and the founder of American indie legends Brian Jonestown Massacre, respectively.
Admittedly, I didn’t know any of that at the time I was introduced to “Friendlies.” But I liked it’s droney psychedelic smolder pretty much from the get-go. The BJM connection is a bonus … and in hindsight, makes complete sense. Just listen to “Anemome” as a primer. It’s a bit slower in its saunter, but the spacey anti-folk vibe is in full swing.
Plus, Parks has Alan McGee as a fan, which in turn, makes me a fan. For those unfamiliar, he’s the founder of renown ’80s-’90s indie label Creation Records, launching pad for seminal acts like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive, Primal Scream, and Oasis – all bands I absolutely love. He signed her to his then-new label 359 Music in 2013, and that’s all the backstory I know.
So “Friendlies” is my gateway ticket. And it’s great one, smokey and stoned in a kaleidoscopic veil of vaporously trippin’ (anti) folk rock. Like a lot of BJM tracks, it’s a little messy, rough around the edges, yet captivating all the same. I wouldn’t quite call it shoegaze, but it leans on the feedback, rolling with a hazy buzz and rumble. And Park’s vocals remind me of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, at least her solo stuff, but slightly coarser, with an uptick in seduction and subtle intensity. All good stuff.
“Friendlies” from the 2015 album “I Declare Nothing.”
Of course, I wasn’t going to stop there. When I find something I like, I just want a little more. Basic instincts, you know. Anyway, that lead me to “Right On,” the lead single from last years’ eponymous LP from Parks & Newcombe. This one sounds like it could be a BJM track, if you swapped Newcombe’s gruff vocals for Parks’ raspy dream blister. Again, it sticks to the psychedelic sun-drenched script, droning in spatial rays of paisley space. Instrumentally, there’s a bit more going on with “Right On,” organ keys and six string electrics weaving in and out of the hypnotic rhythmic hum. But all in all, it’s a logical step forward from “Friendlies.” Check it out.
“Right On” from the 2018 album “Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe.”
I’m going to wrap this up with the aforementioned “Anemone” from Brian Jonestown Massacre. It provides a bit of context, and it’s a damn good track to boot. I think I first heard this in the short-lived steampunk-style TV series “Dracula,” essentially a reimagining of classic vampire mythos. I know that’s a weird place to make a connection. But we work with what we have. That show aired in 2013, while the track itself dates back to 1996, which makes it a classic oldie by today’s standards. Needless to say, it’s been around and around, boasting the dusty hallmark that permeates all Newcombe’s drifty atmospherics and instrumentals. Here it is …
“Anemone” from the 1996 album “Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request.”
I’m sure there’s a lot more to say, as well as recommend, once I find time for a thorough sweep of their collaborations. I’ve posted a track from each of the two albums, which for now, is just a taste. I’m looking forward to hearing what else they’ve cooked up. For now, enjoy these offerings on the table. And as a bit of desert, here’s a couple of music videos for “Friendlies” and Right On.”
The Brian Jonestown Massacre: