As legend has it the Philadelphia psych rock outfit Them Jones “recorded a shitty demo in 2014, played a few shitty shows in 2014, then holed up for a long time and recorded 25 songs in an attempt to give something to the world that was decidedly not shitty.” They band go on to ask “Did we succeed?” Well let’s find out shall we?
First off let’s get to know Them Jones. They are: X. "Whammy" Jones (guitar/vocals/organ/ theremmolator. Patrone "Drone" Jones: Guitar, Drones, Head of Pedal Research. M. Row Jones: Guitar, Loopologist, Homeowner. Chauncey Jones: Drums, Chimes, Percussion Group Set. Dick Jones: Bass, Vocals, Knife, Mix/Master Mellyman.
Of those aforementioned twenty-five songs twelve of them have made it on to their confidently titled sophomore release A Mountain of Nonsense. The opening track “Mended All Made Clean” is full of catchy bass heavy lumps and fuzzy guitar and vocals. It’s friendly as fuck. It’s as though Jon Spencer was fronting the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Them Jones tone it down a bit going for more of a slow-show ‘60s era psychedelic vibe complete with gentle backing vocal arias.
Things get back on course with simple yet effective, one two sonic pulse of the punchy guitar driven “Outburst,” which in a sense is another nod in the direction of bluesy rock. This bluesy rock continues on an even more stripped down to the bone on the good old fashioned “One of These Days.” They then take these bones and add meat to them on “Acute Mountain Sickness Blues” which has a familiar echo to that of Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” Them Jones then make their way into Kinks territory with the bowl-cut head bobbing “Honey Trap.”
After the slow-tempo snoozer “My Heroin Pretends” Them Jones perk up again on the balls out psych fest “Well Enough Alone” that again marries soft ‘60s pop vocals to distorted thrash and bang jangle-pop a la the Brian Jonestown Massacre. They then use slow trotting bluesy grooves yet again on the touching “Jennifer, My Plastic Girl,” and follow it up with the slow waltzing march beats on the poetic “The Shrinking Violet's Light.”
Just as I was nearing the end of A Mountain of Nonsense I felt an Ashton Kutcher moment coming on when I thought to myself “Dude where’s my organ?” I mean you can’t be a pseudo-sixties psych band without at least one track that features a creepy-psych organ. And then they delivered with the instrumental “Now I am Become Death,” which kinda turned out to be a two for one do to its mostly inaudible vocal samples of a guy talking in the background. Had it not been there however I think I would have felt slighted. It serves as the perfect segue into the closer I expected, which in this case is the slow building, sitar-psych-laden “These Canyons.” It is pretty par for the course rip off of a way to end a ‘60s psych induced record, but if it didn’t end this way I would have felt the same way as on the previous song.
And now we’ve come to the ratings portion of this review. “Did we succeed?” the band asked earlier. I’d have to say yes. Am I biased because I’ve been a subscriber to this vein of music for nearly two decades now? I don’t think so. I’ve let so many other things I was into back then go by the roadside but there’s something about lovely vocal harmonies interwoven with droning guitars and foghorns of bass that just never seems to get old. To me Them Jones are masters of their craft. I’ve climbed A Mountain of Nonsense and the view from its summit is pretty great.
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