REVIEW: Brant Bjork – Keep Your Cool (2003)

Scan_20151226BRANT BJORK – Keep Your Cool (2003 Duna)

Been a while, cats, since I chilled to Keep Your Cool.  That’s what you do to this record.  Loaded with laid-back latino-influenced stoner rock jams, Keep Your Cool is designed with purpose.  In fact it’s all right there in the opening jam, “Hey, Monkey Boy”, loaded down with congas and one steamy groove.

“Hey, Monkey Boy!  Why you unemployed?” asks one character in the song, voiced by Bjork.

“‘Cause I’m jammin’!” answers Bjork, utilizing a different voice.

Mood now set, “Johnny Called” comes right from the garage: simple, laid back, but infectious.  Back in the Record Store, one of our store managers Joe “Big Nose” used to phone me up and sing it to me:  “Johnny called me up on the telephone, just to tell me I’m not alone!” he melodized.  “Huh?” I asked confused.  So “Big Nose” gave me the record — on LP.  Now we’re grooving.  The amusingly-titled “Rock-N-Rol’e” keeps it coming.  These are basic, sparsely adorned grooves with a nostalgic bent.  “Hey there Mr. DJ, won’t you play, some Rock-N-Rol’e!” sings Brant, in an ode to being a kid with a radio and some cheap wine.  In the blazing outro, you can hear Bjork begging for some ZZ Top or some AC/DC, because he wants his “chick” to hear some rock and roll!  The groove then changes to a stomp on “I Miss My Chick”, closing LP side one.  Brant explains what he misses about his “chick”, but this being a family site I won’t list them here!  This is a smoking jam.

Commencing with the instrumental title track “Keep Your Cool”, the second side begins with a laid-back Jalamanta vibe.  Then Brant’s “Gonna Make the Scene”, and he does this with another snakey, sparse but funky groove.  He takes a rare falsetto vocal on the chorus, recalling early Disco.  Dusky, quiet rolling bass dominates “Searchin'”, very different from prior Bjork songs.  This makes it a highlight of the album and perhaps even the Brant Bjork canon.  The relaxed mood maintains on the final song, “My Soul”, which is also the only long bomber on the record.  It descends into another quiet jam, concluding the record on a serene but appropriate note.

Great album — short, and to the point like a punk record.  Ultimately, not particular a standout given Bjork’s incredible solo discography.  Keep Your Cool is still not a purchase to regret.

4/5 stars

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11 comments

  1. Nice choice Mike, I love this LP! especially ‘Jonny Called’ and ‘I Miss My Chick’ (man, I miss her mammary glands too). But there again, I so want to be Brant Bjork that I’m not very objective.

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