Needle Drop: Brother JT, “I Still Like Cassettes”

Easton, PA’s Brother JT (aka John Terlesky) has been a lot of things over the course of his undeservedly obscure musical career: the garage rock savant who brought us the great Original Sins, a bona fide guitar god (check out 1999’s Neil Hagerty-produced Way To Go on Thrill Jockey), and the acid-is-groovy mystic who produced such outré LPs as Music for the Other Head and Dosed and Confused, whom I once saw take off his clothes and roll around on the stage in psychedelic transports at a Philly club. I own a dozen of his LPs, and every one of them is compelling in a uniquely peculiar way. Not many musicians can say that.

The same goes for his latest, The Svelteness of Boogietude, and the great “I Still Like Cassettes.” This time out Brother JT has reinvented himself as a soul man, complete with impossibly deep voice, drum machine backing, funky organ, hand claps, and lots of soulful crooning, especially towards the end (“Here come the dropouts/Here come the dropouts”). And all to tell us how much he still loves cassettes, because “in these digital days/I really missssss/All the hisssss.” When that cool organ comes in you’ll have to fight the urge to boogie, and you’ll be able to relate when he sings, “All my favorite songs/Have dropouts in them/From where the tape got eaten/Ummhmm.”

Brother JT is an impossible artist to peg, because he’s always adding yet another fantastic hue to his mad musical palette. While also expanding on what he’s done before, as the phenomenal guitar rave-ups “T. Rex Blues” and “Flotsam and Jetsam,” the bizarre psychedelia of “Celebrate Your Face,” and the wigged-out garage rocker “Be A” (“Be a gypsy and be tipsy/Be Nipsey Russell if you please/Be a nutter, eat some butter”) demonstrate. Bottom line: If you don’t like “I Still Like Cassettes” there’s something wrong with you. And if you don’t like any of the quirky and off-kilter sounds Brother JT produces on The Svelteness of Boogietude, you, my friend, are legally deceased.

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