ARTIST: The Brainiac 5
RELEASE: Exploding Universe
RELEASE DATE: 24/07/15
RECORD COMPANY: Reckless Records
The Brainiac 5 are a band formed from the ashes of Half Human Band, and they made a name for themselves in the mid-70s Cornish music scene. The NME heaped accolades on them, which caused the band to migrate to London. Despite sharing stages with 80s psych stalwarts The Soft Boys and The Barracudas and being favored by John Peel, they split up before their debut album ‘World Inside’ was released. This album eventually came out in 1988 via Restless Records, the same label that released music by Bevis Frond and Black Sun Ensemble. Exploding Universe was recorded in London and features ten new songs performed by the Brainiacs’ nucleus of Charlie Taylor, Duncan ‘Mad Dog’ Kerr and John ‘Woody’ Wood plus drummer Wayne Worrell and Nick Onley on sax and flute. It was lovingly mixed by their longtime engineer, Hawkwind’s ‘Martin Griffin’ at his Roche Studio.
The band plunges into a lot of stylistic pools on this recording, mixing pub rock with bluesy psych, punk, and hard rock. The opening track “Haphazard” sounds a bit like Roxy Music would have sounded if blues had been at their core. There is even a jaw harp way up in the mix, competing with some amusing ‘haha’ vocal lines and a deliberately whacked out trumpet. “Ordinary Man” reminds me of vintage 80s pop, with bouncy guitars and a head bobbing melody. “Empty and Blue” very much dips into 70’s blues rock, with added saxophone and Phil Manzanera style guitar. “The Beauty Of It All” is a pretty acoustic song with a prog overlay, rather different from the other tunes here. “Walls Are Falling Down” is a rousing pub rocker with subtle use of horns, while “Stars Plan Ahead” is laid back reggae. “Growing Up” is all about growing pains, and the responsibility of adulthood. “Your Body’s Alright” has a bit of punk snarl to it, while “(I’m The) Glue” is jazzy funk with hints of R&B. “Exorcist Plan” closes out the album and mashes up prog rock with cosmic skronk at the end.
In summary, a somewhat challenging album from an old school psych band that long time fans as well fans of the different genres represented here will enjoy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Music has always been a driving force for Elizabeth Klisiewicz, which she says “continues to define my existence”. During and after her college years, she ran a weekly radio show at WMUA FM Radio and also at a community station in Springfield, MA, in addition to writing music and concert reviews for the college newspaper. At present, she writes for The Big Takeover Magazine and The Active Listener Blog, and recently began producing a semi-regular Mixcloud-based show called The Kitchen Sink. In the real world, when not writing technical manuals, she gets her thrills from reading mysteries, birdwatching, and can always be found with a camera and a maxed-out storage card full of music.