The Brains - Drunk Not Dead (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Brains

Drunk Not Dead (2011)


Just like Tiger Army, psychobilly will never die. And why should it? There are still legions of adherents, lively wrecking pits, and talented bands churning out their hybrid moments of B-movie horror, punk and throwback rockabilly. And in pockets of North America from Los Angeles to Detroit and on up to Montreal, where the Brains nest suitably alongside cohorts like the Gutter Demons and Rosekill, there are still thriving scenes of a genre that usually comes in spurts.

The thing with most psychobilly, though, is you pretty much know what to expect. Even genres as well-defined as hardcore or ska have more variation than psychobilly, which is essentially always a thumping upright bass, blues-inflected punk guitars, and a singer trying to sound like Elvis. And yes, that's what you get with the Brains' Drunk Not Dead.

So if that sounds appealing, or at least tolerable, you'll most likely enjoy what's offered on the band's third full-length on Stomp Records. There are some pretty catchy singalongs like "Six Rounds" among impressive instrumentation like the telling "We Are the Brains" and all-out ragers "Oh Murder!" In that regard the Brains do a better job mixing things up than most psychobilly bands, even while requiring the genre's trademark elements.

Lyrically the band doesn't deviate at all from what's expected: Creepy horror themes ("I'm Your Nightmare"), fast cars ("High on Speed"), heavy drinking ("Drunk Not Dead") and the mandatory French song ("Pourquoi Me Laisser"). The one slight curveball is the Spanish-sung "Gato Calavera," which actually sounds pretty legit coming from French Canadians.

All expectations considered and met, Drunk Not Dead showcases a highly capable band, kicking out top-level psychobilly that while tried and true, makes for a rather enjoyable listen.