Father Yod & the Source Family: The Thought Adjusters

A decorated veteran, a stuntman, a monk, a restaurant owner, a spiritual leader, and a frontman. Father Yod was all these things and more, becoming a LA cult figure until his death in 1975. Drag City releases some of Father Yod & the Source Family's most sought-after material.

Father Yod & the Source Family

The Thought Adjusters

Label: Drag City
US Release Date: 2012-05-22
UK Release Date: 2012-05-22

The Thought Adjusters is an appropriately sprawling and understandably messy release. It's the work of what was essentially a Los Angeles religious commune-turned-psychedelic noise jam band. There's no denying that Father Yod's magnetism is present throughout the records near-78 minute run time. He's the perfect presentation of what's expected out of a cult leader and the role seems so natural for Father Yod (formerly James Edward Baker) it was as if it was a role he was born to play. The talent of The Source Family (as his followers were known as) is undeniable. Throughout The Thought Adjusters there's scorching lead guitar work reminiscent of Mike Bloomfield at his most incendiary, propulsive drumming, and Father Yod's unmistakable manic preacher warbling.

Much off The Thought Adjusters revels in the chaos that it creates with Father Yod going increasingly insane with his vocal melodies and lyrical content. It's exactly what you'd expect from a drugged-out hippie cult leader. Several times throughout the record it's as if both Father Yod and his band either got completely taken over by the song or just spaced out entirely and kept the tape rolling. That element especially gives The Thought Adjusters a weird, wild-eyed jam band edge. There's moments where the song drops out entirely only to be resurrected moments later and continued on, providing a very strange and jarring experience.

Even more illuminating are the excerpts of various spoken sermons from Father Yod. One of the most fascinating of these is "The Goddess Earth (All My Sons Are Jesus)". These speeches have reportedly been unheard previously by the general public and should serve as an eye-opener to the secret inner workings and ideals of the notoriously reclusive Source Family. "The Goddess Earth (All My Sons Are Jesus)" is probably not only The Thought Adjusters' most representative track but also the track most representative of the band itself. Veering from that opening four-minute speech to the frantic off-key warbling that dominates the second half over some seriously impressive psychedelic noise arrangements. It aptly demonstrates that while the band may have been crazy, they sure could play the hell out of their instruments. When Father Yod's oft-grating vocals drop out of the mix, the record becomes exhilarating due to the players' prowess. It's an incredible thing to listen to.

"Sleepy Heads" is The Thought Adjusters' longest track, clocking in at over 20 minutes. This is the song that marks how susceptible the band was to complete chaos. Strangely, it lends a greater immediacy to the rantings of Father Yod and actually ends up feeling more complete in this mode. During "Sleepy Heads" flute solos cut through at various points, every guitarist gets certain points to lose their mind, and the drummer cuts unbelievably loose while Father Yod lets everything collapse around him. Like the best noise music, it's terrifying while maintaining a sense of beauty. Perhaps most impressively, it stays interesting by hopping from one melody and section to another. It's a tireless marathon where its abundantly clear that the band genuinely believes in what they're doing, presenting it as essential listening until it dies out- and that marks the end of the first of two LPs.

The second LP opens with "Osiris/Isis", which begins as a creepy lilting track that's relatively subdued and eventually increases its momentum by continuously layering itself. It's a fascinating listen that stands out as one of The Thought Adjusters' strongest tracks. The remaining two tracks, "Spin Around Part 1" and its companion, "Spin Around Part Two", end The Thought Adjusters in gloriously messy fashion, flickering between adrenaline-fueled noise jams and lingering restraint that enters freak-folk territory, a genre in which Father Yod & the Source Family are often cited as an influence. They're both, like the whole record, an unquestionably fascinating listen that provide as many grating moments as thrilling ones. While The Thought Adjusters certainly won't strike a chord with everyone, if you're curious about it, it'll be well worth the listen.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.