Jan-Simon : And here he Is again, the coolest stoner rocker of the planet. Brant Bjork presents, barely a year after his live album, his thirteen solo record called ‘Mankind Woman’. Those familiar with Bjork will not anticipate any shocking changes and our desert rock veteran does not disappoint in that respect. The man’s impressive head of hair and beard slowly turns more and more to grey, but apart from that almost everything remains as it is. ‘Mankind Woman’ is like we got to know and respect Brant Bjork in the past twenty years or so: solidly grounded in sixties and seventies rock music (more than ever on this album) and always focusing on the “vibe”. There are few who sound as recognizable, regardless who is supporting Bjork on the album. This time he was joined in the Californian desert by two members of his Low Desert Punk Band, Bubba Dupree on guitar and singer Sean Wheeler. Furthermore there are special contributions by old friend Nick Oliveri and bass player Armand Secco Sabal. Contrasting sharply with the groovy rock is this album’s lyrical content. It is obvious that Brant Bjork is as retro as can be as far as the music is concerned, but he is not completely out of this world. The seemingly light-footed songs take on heavy subject matter such as elitarism, racism, sexism and all other things that occupy and divide the United States right now. But it does not really distract. More often than not when musicians get involved in social and political themes, it gets in the way of the music. Not this time.
One can hardly call ‘Mankind Woman’ stoner, regardless of the variety of that typical genre. This must be Brant Bjork’s most traditional and conventional rock album. It continues where Blue Cheer, Cream and Jimi Hendrix stopped. So it has not much use comparing this with Kyuss or Fu Manchu, but that’s alright. ‘Mankind Woman’ has turned out to be an entertaining and accessible album that even holds a few possible future Brant Bjork classics. Opener ‘Chocolatize’ is just the kind of song needed to begin a record with: it hits you in the face with the right riffs and Bjork’s typical lazy vocals. The songs that open ‘Mankind Woman’ – ‘Chocolatize’ but also ‘Pisces’ turn out to be the most vintage Bjork. As the record continues classic bluesrock takes over, with thick riffs coming to us through a selection of cool, mostly custom built, effect pedals. We are also treated to Sean Wheeler’s guest vocals. Wheeler is a singer whose voice and presence do not match that of Brant “Mr. Cool” Bjork. Fortunately he got the lead in just a few songs and it’s mostly Bjork’s trade mark parlando singing on this album.
Is this latest offering from Brant Bjork shocking? I would not think so. And it is not at all modern either, but is that really necessary? The conclusion of almost forty minutes of ‘Mankind Woman’ is that its music is solid as a rock. It makes you want to blow of the dust of all that classic rock of roughly forty, fifty years ago and rediscover what great music used to be made back then. And when you are done with that, take the entire back catalogue of Brant Bjork and go through that from start to finish, including Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Che, for all who think the latest work is just a bit too soft. Only for being able to do this to you, this album cannot be that bad. Which it isn’t by the way.