BROTHER JT – The Sveltness of Boogietude

Album: The Sveltness of Boogietude

Artist: Brother JT

Label: Thrill Jockey

Release Date: May 14, 2013

Brother JT

 www.thrilljockey.com

BY JENNIFER KELLY     

 

John Terlesky has been making demented garage psych records for more than three decades now, first as the frontman for acid fuzzed Original Sins and, since 1990, in his own name (more or less) as Brother JT. The Sveltness of Boogietude is the latest in this cracked but excellent series, pursuing a variety of obsessions (sweatpants, muffintops, cassettes) down lysergic rabbit holes. JT wears his oddities proudly, but what separates him from more overtly outsider-ish artists (Daniel Johnston, R. Stevie Moore) is skill and a way with a hook. His “Celebrate Your Face,” which opens the disc, is a paean to unfettered eccentricity, but also a tightly wound rock ‘n soul groove in the vein of MC5. “T. Rex Blues,” a nod to the psych-rock forefather who reportedly inspired the album, is similarly odd and similarly stomping, with its obliterating riff and sing-along chorus.  

 

Indeed, the songs where eccentricity takes the lead are the weakest ones here. Once you’re over the joke of thrift-shop-funky “Sweatpants” (heh heh, sweatpants as erotic fetish), the song itself fades into the wallpaper, same for belly-bulge celebrating “Muffintop.”

 

Often, though, Brother JT gets the balance just right, as on the brilliantly specific “Things I Like” where a taut drum beat meets loopily jammed out guitars, and Terlesky enumerates his own mad, inimitable favorites (“Reese’s cups and kettle chips…Ronald Ashton’s wah wah” etc.)  It’s freaky and eccentric and one of a kind but too disciplined to be unstable.  He also takes a nice turn towards lyricism on vulnerable “Glidin’” a pretty, string-embellished love song that is spare and sincere and only slightly off-balance. “Green Curtain” is likewise fragile and gorgeous, a bit of dreamy Tyrannosaurus Rex to balance out “Slider”-ish blues vamps.  

 

Sixties redolent garage rock can be a straight-jacket, a rules-bounded homage to an era that celebrated freedom. Brother JT gets the wild abandon of the Nuggets era, as well as the fuzz-guitar’d sonics, celebrating his own singularity in songs that push at the boundaries of the genre.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Things I Like” “Green Curtain”

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