Joel Gion

Apple Bonkers

Written by: BV on 16/09/2014 14:09:42

Joel Gion is man who is predominantly known for his time spent with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, spanning more than a decade as an on/off member of the band where his role consists of playing the tambourine and only the tambourine. In 2011, however, Gion released his debut EP as a solo artist – aptly titled “Extended Play” and although it went under most people’s radar, there was a promise in the raw songwriting that could easily yield some very positive results – given more time and effort, obviously. Now, three years later, Gion is ready with his first solo full-length titled “Apple Bonkers”.

Opening with the garage-rocking “Yes”, Joel Gion’s time spent in The Brian Jonestown Massacre is increasingly evident in his songwriting. Taking in influences from pivotal early sixties acts Gion also seems to take pride in a heavy influence from BJM bandleader Anton Newcombe’s songwriting. Characterized by its echoing vocals quite befitting of the track’s lazy beat, there is an air of immediate naivety and bluntness often found in songwriters who have yet to realize their potential but are, nonetheless, on to something. The soundscape is much more nuanced than one might initially anticipate, however given the roster of musicians involved with the project, including Matt Hollywood, Collin Hegna, Rob Campanella and Daniel Allaire, the nuance and depth of the soundscape is not only to be expected – it also seems like a sort of mandatory thing for the soundscape.

The melancholic and thoughtful “Change My Mind” breaks a pattern of the album, as most of the tracks are fairly straightforward and, well, full of extroverted happiness. “Change My Mind”, however, is rooted in an airy soundscape that emphasizes Gion’s deep, surprisingly haunting vocals and the subtle vocal harmonies backing him. The soundscape is superbly crafted with minimal percussion (tambourine included, of course) making the way for a compelling chord progression on the guitar and various strings possibly provided by synthesizers that really set the general atmosphere and tone of the track – thus making it one of the definitive highlights of Gion’s debut.

For all the immediate joy there is to find on “Apple Bonkers”, there is also a slight tendency of repetition and monotony – as there often is on debut efforts. Gion’s songwriting is certainly promising and one that simply deserves better than to get ignored due to sheer elitism and his continuous ‘main role’ as a tambourine player. Finally, however, the album closes with “Don’t Let the Fuckers Bring You Down” – the closest Gion has come to writing an anthem, as of yet. With its catchy lyrics and easily recognizable melody it makes for certain hit material in an ideal world – however, as this world is far from ideal we can at the very least take solace in Gion’s words and do exactly as he says – which is to not let the fuckers get us down – at the very least he shouldn’t, as I’d like to hear more songs from this particular songwriter.


Download: Change My Mind, Don’t Let the Fuckers Bring You Down, Hairy Flowers
For The Fans Of: The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Christian Bland & The Revelators, The Dolly Rocker Movement
Listen: Facebook

Release date 19.08.2014
Reverberation Appreciation Society

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