Over the course of 15 years, Los Angeles' Brian Jonestown Massacre has been one of the best, most prolific rock and roll bands, having released a dozen or so full-length records (and a dizzying number of limited-edition singles and EPs) that range from driving '60s-tinged psychedelic R&B to blissful shoegazer rock. Unfortunately, the group is more famous for the crazed antics of hypnotic leader Anton Newcombe and its staggering number of lineup changes -- the list of former members is probably over 100 by now -- than for its music.
That could change with the recent release of Dig!, the fascinating documentary that chronicles the Massacre and its friends/rivals/musical soulmates, the Dandy Warhols. The film, which won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Festival, has been condemned by Newcombe for the "Jerry Springer-esque vilification" of his nature (some of the scenes contain drug use, and band confrontations are pretty graphic to say the least), but it's hard not to leave admiring his work ethic and take-no-prisoners DIY spirit, which contrasts quite severely with the Dandy Warhols' clichéd rock-star antics.
November 2 marks the release of the two-disc album Tepid Peppermint Wonderland, a Massacre retrospective that's the perfect starting point for the uninitiated. It's remarkable that tunes like "Wisdom," "When Jokers Attack," and "Anenome" haven't elevated the band to the level of groups like Primal Scream and Oasis. Though it's fun to be in on one of music's best-kept secrets, Brian Jonestown Massacre deserves more.