It’s funny how a musician can go from playing tambourine for one of the most talented psychedelic rock acts of the century to putting out a legit solo record. That’s exactly what Joel Gion did when he put out his self-titled second release on Nov 17 via the Brooklyn indie label Beyond Beyond is Beyond. People might know him from his time as the percussionist for the San Francisco psych-rock act The Brian Jonestown Massacre. His solo material has a similar psychedelic vibe but it borders on dream pop while encompassing jazzy techniques. It makes for a calming listening experience that’ll set the mood for a positive environment.
Gion’s vocals are very reminiscent of the folk singer-songwriter Rodriguez. It gives the record a retro aesthetic while the production quality maintains a modern tone. There’s nothing dull about the album either, as there’s something different in each track. An entertaining musical voyage follows with an immense variety of dimensions. Unapologetic coolness oozes out with each note, and by the final song a lasting impression will be made.
When a member of an established band goes solo, it can have different results. It can be a disaster, like Pete Townsend after The Who initially broke up in the early ’80s. It can also be a stunning exhibition of talent like The Joe Perry Project when he left Aerosmith before rejoining the band. Gion shines with his debut having a lot to offer the ears. Take a closer look and check out my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:
The jazz leanings are best exemplified in “Come to Light” – there’s an array of flute and laid-back beats that revolve around Gion and his acoustic guitar. “Divide” has an elegant feel due to the guitar and piano feeding off each other; it’s uniquely pristine while the flute anchors a harmony that’s contagious throughout the entire song. The black sheep of the album is “Mercury in Retrograde,” harking back to The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s edgy brand of rock with electric distorted guitars.
Gion doesn’t have any shows announced but he’ll probably do a tour in support of his new album sometime next year. While we all wait for that happen, grab a copy of the record either online or at your local record store. It’s mellow, cool and rad all at the same time.