Short Cuts

The core members of the Massacre -- Newcombe on guitar and vocals, Matt Hollywood on bass, and Joel Gion on maracas -- do give off a certain vibe: part charisma, part personality disorder. On stage, they're a combination of the Yardbirds (circa the movie Blow-Up) and Syd Barrett (circa his mental collapse). Off stage, they're pretty much the same. So when Newcombe sent threatening letters to the Dandys and distributed copies of a satiric single, "Not If You Were the Last Dandy on Earth," nobody was surprised -- except for the Dandys. "Anton went insane," Holmstrom once said. "Well, more insane."

It turns out Newcombe merely wanted to generate some publicity along the lines of Oasis vs. Blur (but forgot to tell the Dandys). The misunderstanding has since been patched up and the two bands remain friends. The Massacre's fifth and latest CD, "Give It Back!" features the "Last Dandy" track, which is a (mostly) good-natured parody of the Dandys' up-tempo pop songs. The rest of the CD, however, finds Newcombe and company delving into shaggy psychedelia and sitar-and-tabla freak-outs a la George Harrison and John Lennon.

"Super-Sonic" opens the album in grand fashion with orchestral guitars and Newcombe's insinuating, mantra-like vocals: "If you do it, well you better do it right/If you're screwed up, well you better screw it tight." Newcombe does Dylan on the galloping folk song "Malela," then sits back for the instrumental raga of "Salaam." One thing this band does exceedingly well is droning drug-rock, and a handful of such cuts appear here, most notably the hypnotic "Whoever You Are" and the over-the-top "The Devil May Care (Mom & Dad Don't)."

This will likely be the Massacre's last release on the Bomp! label; the band signed with TVT last year, and Newcombe reportedly celebrated by using a TVT credit card to purchase several hundred dollars' worth of champagne at a bar. As Newcombe himself has written, "I'm not in the music business, I'm in the Brian Jonestown Massacre business!" Whatever that means.

-- Rafer Guzman

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