Brother JT3


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Spirituals Review

by Bryan Thomas

Spirituals -- recorded/mixed in September 2001 and released in the spring of 2002 -- is the second Brother JT release on Drag City and the second produced by Royal Trux mainman Neil Michael Hagerty (he co-produced Brother JT's Way to Go as part of Adam and Eve back in 1999). This is perhaps his most accessible album, and according to JT himself (here using the moniker Brother JT3), the album sounds a bit like "the Velvets doing Astral Weeks." Meanwhile, the label bio refers to it as "full-on sandals rock," though the same could be said for practically anyone playing an acoustic guitar while standing up. Other sonic influences bubble up to the surface here and there in charming ways, including those of eccentric "outsider" rockers like Roky Erickson, Skip Spence, Syd Barrett, and sandbox-era Brian Wilson or influential bohemian underground acts like the Fugs and Frank Zappa and his Mothers of Invention, not to mention bands like the Butthole Surfers and Guided by Voices, or Beck at his folkiest. Check out the stoner anthem "Mellow," which has all of the right essentials to be a perfectly suitable left-of-the-dial indie radio hit: ringing acoustic guitar, an irresistible flute and recorder, and a singalong hook carried aloft JT's lazy, bong-hit vocals. These are spiritually cleansing hymns for the sinful masses.

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