Regardless of how good you are at the sound-matching game, it will be clear about a minute into the Lovetones’ Meditations that this band is familiar with the concept of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. If the tambourine-driven opener “Mantra” was indeed a post-Nixonian construction, it’s certainly not meant to sound like it. The connection between these bands is closer than that, actually: They share a label, and Lovetones lead man, Matthew J. Tow, even took a spin through Brian Jonestown Massacre’s revolving cast when he stepped in to drum on tour and contribute a couple of tracks to 2003’s And This is Our Music. That he keeps such rough company is probably a matter of concern for Tow’s parents, but it’s good news for fans of BJM’s considerable effort to efficiently retro-dict all that good stuff from the ’60s and ’70s.
If you think you’ve ingested enough BJM Kool-Aid this year, I’d be inclined to agree with you. Fortunately the Lovetones have a thing for the Beatles – a band BJM has inexplicably managed to side-step so far. Not only can Tow sound like John Lennon any time he chooses (“Come Home” and “Pictures”), he’s inclined to cover the same thematic territory as Lennon’s band. Meditations has that mystic obsession with the universe, love, energy and occasionally even images of broken light: “I saw a million flashes of color and I saw you. Was I there in your future?” Tow apparently has a good spot to ponder lines like that. His vocals sound like they’ve been reverberating through galactic caves to find your mind through the same kind of echolocation used by bats to avoid stalactites. Timothy Leary is probably as big an influence here as either Lennon or McCartney.
“Stars” has an appropriate Eastern-tinged opening for a track that will later benefit from a sitar (we all know how much George Harrison loved those), but it’s the distorted underwater vocals that bubble up and bring to mind “Blue Jay Way.” “Genius” is an entirely different Beatles homage; it’s a collage of sound that includes the kind of backward guitar noise of “Tomorrow Never Knows.”
At fourteen tracks, Meditations would get old if the Lovetones didn’t sound just as good doing their own thing. “A Place for Us” is dreamy, drifting and uplifting; “Wrapped Up in You” is a solid shoe-gaze love song; and album stand-out “Inside a Dream” has a pleasant blend of gentle, gliding guitar and straight-forward melody.
Meditations isn’t nearly as consciousness shattering as Descartes’ book of the same name, even if it may aspire to be. But for Beatles-juiced cosmic pop from that ongoing social experiment of Australia, look no further. All you need is Lovetones.
Lovetones’ Web site: http://www.thelovetones.com/
Lovetones on Bomp.com: www.bomp.com/Lovetones.html
Lovetones on Tee Pee Records’ Web site: www.teepeerecords.com/bands/lovetones/
Tee Pee Records’ Web site: http://www.teepeerecords.com/