Thoughts on JEFF the Brotherhood’s Hypnotic Nights

Hypnotic Nights
JEFF the Brotherhood
Warner Bros.

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I really envy teenagers that get to hear JEFF The Brotherhood fresh off the presses. The kids. These kids today. Do the kids listen to that Jeffrey and his Brotherhood? Or just bearded/Bettie-Page-banged 20- and 30-somethings? I’m pretty out of touch with the kids, seeing as I frequently have back pain. I think they like that Skrillex lady.

My weird view of teenagerdom, influenced equally by extremely warped memories and some fabricated ideal of how teenagerdom is supposed to be (thanks disaffected youth films!), dictates that as a teenager your listening tastes are dominated either by happy-fun-goodtimes music or sad-bastard music. Or let’s just say that there are major key or minor key kids. I was a minor key kid. A Sad Bastard.

Often the tendency when you’re young dumb and full of cum is to try to act older and more serious than you are. And immerse yourself in music you think is deep, like sitting in your bedroom and contemplating the brokenness displayed in The Wall, or studying the poetry of Jim Morrison like it was Ezra Pound. And when you can’t even contemplate asking a girl out, well those minor keys and lofty themes envelop you like a nice warm whiney blanket. It was a good phase, and I wouldn’t take much back, but there are regrets.

Only years later was I able to hear the greatness of dudes like JEFF the Brotherhood playing fuzzed out rock about not giving a fuck and having a good time in the midst of being unstuck in suburbia. The modern stuff I listened to in the 90s had the fuzz, the not giving a fuck and the isolation, but not much of the good times. Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Nirvana (although Nirvana had a lot of humor about them). It wasn’t until years later that I could really enjoy Guided By Voices and stuff like The Exploding Hearts.

JEFF the Brotherhood is my hindsight idea of the perfect music to be into as a young-Matt-Dillon-sneering teen. Their latest LP Hypnotic Nights, as well as last year’s equally bitchin’ We Are The Champions (the two that I am familiar with so far; they have stuff going back a lot further to explore), sound like a faded Polaroid (NOT Instagram) of some kids hanging out in a paneled basement with a sixer of Miller High Life. The kind of thing that would currently be on an advertisement geared toward H-words, but, ya know, authentic.

The brothers Orrall deliver no-nonsense (or pure nonsense) fuzzed-out calls to quit “Staring at the Wall” and get out of whatever snoozefest “here” is and go have some fun, whether it be out in the country, on the open road, or anywhere else away from that “Dark Energy.” The drive behind Nights is Stooges-like in its simplicity and slow four-on-the-floor thudding open-mouth head nodding, but strays from Iggy and his crew in its unflinching optimism.

Rock to escape. That’s a teenage theme, right? I guess not; not exclusively anyway. But music like this is often such an aphrodisiac for youngin’s the world over to get some cheap equipment, set up in a garage and start the next Rod Torfulson’s Armada featuring Herman Menderchuk. When I first listened to this record, the one image that kept creeping into my memory was the inner sleeve photo of Weezer’s Weezer (Blue Album). Oh wait, I guess there were a few upbeat rockers in my repertoire back in the day. Memory’s a funny thing.

I bought this album on cassette shortly after “Undone (The Sweater Song)” became somewhat ubiquitous, just before “Buddy Holly” became totally ubiquitous. I was 14 going on 15 and had just started learning guitar sometime around then, and I’d stare at that picture over and over. It was the coolest thing I’d ever fucking seen. I learned about about each guitar and amp model (Oranges are the tits) and even dug into some Judas Priest and Quiet Riot after discerning who was in the posters on the wall. I unfolded it so many times, the perforation gave way (cassettes!) and I eventually taped it together and thumb tacked it to my bedroom wall, waiting for the day I could get some friends together and set up a garage just like that. Soon enough I did get together with some guys, and may have possibly framed the instruments in the room to closer resemble the photo while the others were out smoking.

But that feeling’s still there when I look at the photo now. It’s still cool as shit, and I still want that setup, even after having it several times over the years. A lot of guys I know my age could still look at this photo and their souls would salivate, looking to get away with some ice and a six pack and just say fuck it for a while. It’s nice to know that I can still have something in common with that young age, you know, except for all that “I’ve got my whole life ahead of me!” bullshit. Stupid kids.

Anywho, JEFF the Brotherhood records sound like this picture, and you should listen to them if you get any of what I’m saying. You should also listen to Mikal Cronin (a lot), Ty Segall (who seems to be the critics’ choice out of this lot, though not mine), Best Coast (sunnier and more whimsical but just as dumb), and then listen to The Exploding Hearts’ 2003 masterpiece Guitar Romantic. Because that record is perfect.

23 skidooed by on August 10th, 2012
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