Brant Bjork

Local Angel

As the punishing drummer who helped propel seminal stoner-rock bands Kyuss and Fu Manchu to greatness, Brant Bjork has earned a future spot in Valhalla's pantheon of percussion, alongside the likes of John Bonham and Keith Moon. But as a guitar-slinging bandleader, Bjork has produced several albums that trade downtuned riffage and testosterone overload for spare instrumentation and a funky, laid-back vibe. His latest effort, Local Angel, follows suit, sounding like it was cut during a hazy, bong-packing session on a languid Palm Desert afternoon. Nary a power chord emerges during the first three tracks, as the songwriter instead concentrates on mellow, acoustic-based tunes and wistful, almost naive lyrics. Singing pastoral ditties about "Beautiful Powers" and "a flower child running free" (on the appropriately titled "Hippie") will likely piss off Bjork's headbanging fans, but his soul-tinged grooves maintain a certain herb-addled charm. Unfortunately, the simple song structures and lack of clear-eyed editing start to wear thin by album's end, marring an otherwise enjoyable ride.

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