Brant Bjork – Keep Your Cool – Review

Brant Bjork

Keep Your Cool (Duna)
by Brian Varney

This is the third Brant Bjork album. The first, Jalamanta, was a series of spare, atmospheric, lightly funky cuts with lots of space, like the soundtrack of a time-lapse film of a marijuana leaf being grown and harvested. The second, And the Operators, was a complete about-face, a peppy, upbeat album of ’80s-flavored new-wave guitar pop full of super-catchy songs. Keep Your Cool seems an obvious, well-crafted attempt at an amalgamation of these two sides of his musical personality. The songs are mostly funky (lotsa subtle touches like wah-wah and clavinet, not to mention the beats), but very sparely arranged, as if the large areas of space are there intentionally, perhaps as a nod to The Meters et al, perhaps as an invitation to turntablists to sample this shit, perhaps something else. However, rather than a bunch of cool-sounding atmospheric bits ala Jalamanta, an album which is very popular among stoner rock folks but frankly kinda bores me after ten or so minutes, Keep Your Cool’s song-y tracks (about half of ’em) are also catchy, like the better moments from The Operators‘ disc. Granted, the mostly-instrumental tracks that make up the album’s other half sound like they belong on Jalamanta, but these are the less interesting moments. So what we’ve got here, at least half the time, is a fine example of the heretofore unexplored stoner funk-pop genre.
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