A band name which suggests that the members are not human beings with a normal brain. The perfect name for the producers of the weirdest extra-terrestrial noises on earth. Brainiac has never been a band that has made it easy for the listener. In fact what you hear, something makes your jaw drop, just as the characters in Star Trek when they witnessed something uneartly. Now the band has also made it difficult for the reader. On the cover of their new album Hissing Prigs in Static Couture, they have changed the “I” into a “1”, the “B” into a “3”, the “g” into a “9” and the “S” into a “5”, thus writing their name as 3RA1N1AC.
As I had to read the titles twice or more, I also had to listen to the record more than once, because it takes a while to hear what is going on in the music. Most of all the basis of the songs is guitar rock, but what they play on top of that in really strange. Timmy Taylor’s voice sounds as if he’s singing through the mailbox, sometimes sounding so high, as if he were a girl. Add to that the synthesizers he plays, the nervous rhythms and the driving bass and you might get an idea of the kind of music the band is playing.
On a first hearing Brainiac doesn’t seem to make music you can whistle along with, but when you get used to the distorted noise, you will discover some very nice melodies. At these moments, the band most of all resembles fellow townsmen (who were equally crazy) Devo. This is the case in songs like Indian Poker [Part 3] or Nothing Ever Changes (try to read this in the Brainiac spelling). At other times, you hear influences from 50s rock’n’roll played on a lot of dope (as in Vincent Come On Down) and at other times, it’s like new wave as it would be played by the Butthole Surfers (Pussyfootin’).
The weirdness is at its highest peak in Strung, where it seems that angels and devils are fighting for your petty soul in our regular nightmare. The atonality is at its best in songs like Kiss Me, U Jacked Up Jerk and I am a Cracked Machine.
Once again this album was produced by Eli Janney (Girls Against Boys), except for one song, which was recorded by Steve Albini. Which reminds me that if Shellac would eat some mushrooms, they would probably sound as in the song This Little Piggy. With this album, it seems like it’s finally going to happen for Brainiac, although the band would never qualify to make the soundtrack for the sequel of the Sound of Music.