There is an abundance of strange music out there and I am one of those who will give just about anything (except country) a chance. I have compiled a list of 4 records that you should listen to at some point in your life, but the majority of you will probably consider them to be too damn weird/awful/wretched/pointless to ever own them.
Storm and Stress – Under Thunder & Fluorescent Lights (Sounding much of the time like 3 guys who aren’t listening to each other as the noodle away on their instruments, I find something oddly hypnotic and soothing about their songs. Guitar god Ian Williams (Don Caballero, Battles) finds an odd sense of rhythm for his guitar lines and adds vocal randomness here and there.)
U.S. Maple – Long Hair In Three Stages (Take equal parts awfully tuned guitars and raspy drug addict sounding vocals, mash them together with some post punk undertones and you have U.S. Maple. At moments I find myself saying “these guys are incredibly bad” at others I am bobbing my head with a slight cringe. Like a red headed step child of Brainiac. A complete deconstruction of music as we know it.)
Listen – Magic Job
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – s/t (French pop artist Serge Gainsbourg released many hits but to much dismay because of his use of erotic styled backing vocals on a few tunes. These vocals were sung by Jane Birkin. The most famous song on the album “Je t’aime moi non plus” even featured “orgasmic” sounding vocals and was banned in many countries, or heavily edited. Gainsbourg considered it the “Ultimate love song” and if you can get past the discomfort felt throughout the album it is a great listen. A lot of people have shrugged off his work because it is sung in French, but don’t let that detract you from some amazing work.)
Listen – Je t’aime moi non plus
Brainiac – Hissing Prigs In Static Couture (1996) Once you can get past the erratic effects laden vocals, this album is such a rewarding experience. It’s fist pumping/psychedelia/ass kicking rock done like no other band had done. If you have heard John Schmersal’s guitar work in his current band Enon you know that you are in for a treat. This album never lets you get settled in your chair but that is a good thing. This is one of my favorite albums of the mid 90’s. This album is a spastic gyration of guitar mess and yelps. Lead singer Tim Taylor walked a line between irritating and mesmerizing and complimented the squeal of his voice with keyboard and Moog nonsense, but it all worked so well. “Pussyfootin” is a sleazy grinder that tiptoes in the angular punk of Fugazi with a pop mind. “Vincent Come On Down” grabs the lamp next to the bad and throws it at the wall with its explosion of sound. When you finally make it to “Hot Seat Can’t Sit Down” you are either hooked or totally repulsed and I think the late Tim Taylor would be perfectly fine with that.
Brainiac was a band that existed at the perfect time when indie rock was exploding in so many different directions. There was a supportive loving culture who embraced the kind of mess that bands like Brainiac were creating. It wasn’t a culture of “who will be the next buzz band” or “who can get the most blog coverage”. No, it was “lets play some music and lets not give a shit about anything but the music”. I would love to have heard the record that they were creating for Interscope…..
Score – 9.5/10
Listen – Hot Seat Can’t Sit Down