ALBUM REVIEW: Joel Gion ‘Apple Bonkers’

The Brian Jonestown Massacre tambourine man delves into his psychedelic core on this ten-track treat.

For many years now Joel Gion has built himself a reputation as being one of the best tambourine players in the world, with his faultless performances alongside Anton Newcombe and his band, Brian Jonestown Massacre. Joel has toured the world shaking his maracas and tambourines, to the alluring 60s chimes that BJM produce. But with other members busy doing other stuff, Joel has found himself twiddling his thumbs quite a lot; cue, Apple Bonkers.

In many ways it’s been a long time coming, as Joel has reigned in all the experiences with sprays of his own touches here and there to produce this shoe-gaze album spanning ten tracks. And yes it’s bonkers. Apple Bonkers shows us that Joel is more than just a guy who stands on stage waving a tambourine around. It demonstrates to us that maybe he has more of a creative input into BJM as well as his own music then he has previously been given credit for.

It’s a spellbinding LP, drenched in psychedelic powers that simmer to allow Joel’s voice to beautifully grace us in the opening track, ‘Yes’. However, it’s not long before we see his BJM influences force their way through in the second track, ‘Smile’, as Joel demonstrates an excellent array of shoe-gaze tones and volumes. ‘Hairy Flowers’ is a slower paced track with an acoustic chime, with vocals that are quite eerie in comparison to ‘Dart’, which is a much more upbeat, light and country/folk bass with choppy interludes.

Apple Bonkers also shows a soulful side in ‘Change My Minds’, where the choir like feel runs parallel with an acoustic guitar, which help to emphasis Joel’s drowning vocals. However, quite the opposite surfaces in ‘Mirage’, which offers optical illusions with its beautiful splashes of psychedelia. It’s an atmospheric tune as the lyrics talk around a range of colours. Then ‘Radio Silence’ sucks us into a swirling post-punk-shoe- gaze mesh.

But while all the experimenting is good, Joel brings it back to a BJM rhythm in ‘Two Daisies’, as a simple, yet catchy riff drives the tune, before ‘Sail On’ graces us with the same principles, however, harbours more of a meaningful bass. Apple Bonkers closes with ‘Don’t Let The Fuckers Bring You Down’. It’s a sterling way to end such a great album with a simple and very emotive message about life and the way we should live our lives; by being true to ourselves. It’s a truly mesmerising ten-track album that really gets beneath the skin and shows off just how good Joel Gion is as a musician, which sees him fuse the Brian Jonestown Massacre years into his own work. Well worth listening…

Apple Bonkers is released on 18th August via The Reverberation Appreciation Society / The Committee To Keep Music Evil.

Sam Lightle