Good Lord - Crazy & The Brains (Baldy Longhair Records)
This New Jersey four-piece might be one of the oddest bands to grace the reviews section of the I-94 Bar - or most other places. if you know of any others to have a lead xylophone/glockenspeil player as backing vocalist, well you know our address.
OK, Dave Graney uses a fair chunk of vibraphone in some of his music. Mark Sultan made a killer solo record("The Sultanic Verses") with dinky keys and xylophone. Tommy Hall’s jug rhythms made 13th Floor Elevators sound other-worldy. Using a glockenspiel as a melodic advice puts Crazy & The Brains in a different category.
Crazy & The Brains bill their music as “party punk/anti-folk” and that’s as good a tag as any. This 12-inch vinyl/cassette/download release (the latter two formats giving you a shitload of bonus tracks) sounds like stripped back garage rock with a strong acoustic undercurrent. The best parallel might be The Oh-Sees, whose jokey oeuvre has never rowed my boat. Your own results there, of course, may differ.
“Ice Cream” is a rollicking piece of off-kilter pop with lots of nice rough edges. “Vanity Fair” is weirdly whimsical (and instrumental) with the percussion taking centre stage. “Kids In Da Hall” could have been a college radio hit (or still might be, even if there are fewer people listening.)
At times, there’s enough reverb on Christopher Urban’s lead vocal that would have kept the late Lux Interior happier than an analogue recorder collector-turned-tourist on a visit to Sun Studio. He and lead xlophonist Jeff Rubin are the oriignal members whio formed Crazy & The Brains after their mates in a previous band bailed on them.
The core of this album are the six songs from the vinyl. The 10 bonus cuts are mostly sketches of songs posing as demos and are probably best left to the ironed-on fans. Among them there’s a live cut (“Say My Name”) that sounds like it was recorded under a wet blanket with cardboard boxes for drums and the xylophone simulating distant neuropathic pain. The exception here is the closing “All I Really Want”, a more fully-realised and dense tune that sounds like Ween when they used drugs.