Brant Bjork - Black Flower Power
Napalm Records
Stoner Rock
10 songs (49' 14")
Release year: 2014
Napalm Records
Reviewed by Andy

Earlier this year, I attended a Corrosion of Conformity concert in my hometown. One of the opening acts, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band -- which I hadn't heard before -- was strangely compelling; often amelodic, but with the funkiness and rhythm of a crowd-oriented jam act, they were a band I couldn't help liking despite my usually fairly low interest in stoner rock. Now that I've got my hands on their latest album, Black Power Flower, I can say that the performance I witnessed in the venue was very similar to what the listener will get on the album, except with a cleaner production. And that's mostly a good thing.

The music, despite Bjork's veteran status as a rock musician, has a very do-it-yourself feel to it. The bass is prominent in the mix, but Bjork's fuzzed-out guitar combined with his rather tuneless voice is what defines this band's sound. Controllers Destroyed is a fairly fast-paced piece with a chugging riff overlaid with screeching solos; both it and its funkier follower, We Don't Serve Their Kind, is vaguely anti-authoritarian, with Bjork grimly snapping out some of the lines, but these songs have little of the aggression of metal, with the singer sounding like he is about to sit down, roll another joint, and discuss philosophy rather than fight anyone. Stokely Up Now's lyrics are mindless, apparently only vehicles for the song, but the chorus guitar riff completely makes up for it with a wailing solo which, thanks to the distortion used, comes out as more of a squeak. I can see why Bjork refers to this as "punk" music; its low-end guitar distortion purposely sounds like it ought to be a production mistake or the result of a very low budget, and the slower, repetitious Soldier of Love provides most of its appeal in the form of punch in the riff used, the almost Hendrix-esque delivery of Bjork's vocals, and the jam-style guitar soloing that covers everything.

Really, if one looks at Black Power Flower, this is where minimalistic alt-rock like Queens of the Stone Age, heavy southern rock in the style of Keenan-era Corrosion of Conformity, and 70s hippie funk merge into a smoky haze of low-fi American rock. That's a Fact, Jack, one of my favorites on the album, shows this off perfectly. Filled with wah-wah-pedal whine, but still keeping that scratchy distortion, it's a grimy track that Bjork's sharp delivery makes even dirtier, sounding like something to be listened to in a dusty tavern somewhere off a state highway in Arizona -- or perhaps Southern Oregon, a major production center in my home state of the band's chemical of choice. I should mention that the lyrics to almost everything on the album has a mysterious, in-joke quality that contributes to the stoner vibe, but the last track, Where You From, Man, is the most stoner-oriented of the lot. With a swinging beat that lasts for 9 minutes, the wah-wah pedal puts in an encore along with guitar noise and no singing except for some delay-looped samples, including Bjork repeatedly asking the title question in his nastiest, most smoke-filled voice. It sounds ridiculous, except it works so well atmospherically that it's actually one of the best tracks on the album.

This clearly isn't going to be everyone's plate of THC-loaded brownies, but just like Bjork's live performance, I couldn't help but enjoy it after listening all the way through. Fans of southern and stoner rock ought to like this one quite a bit.

Killing Songs :
That's a Fact, Jack, Where You From, Man
Andy quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Brant Bjork that we have reviewed:
Brant Bjork - Tao of the Devil reviewed by Andy and quoted 78 / 100
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