Crazy and the Brains - Good Lord [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Crazy and the Brains

Good Lord [EP] (2015)

Baldy Longhair

The thing that makes Crazy and the Brains so compelling is that they are nigh impossible to define. Existing within the amorphous plane known as punk, the band has garage rock tendencies- what with their rowdy, jagged, messy riffs- but they’re not a “garage rock” band. The AV Club once compared the band to Rancid and while the pair share a frenetic, almost zany energy (the Brains perhaps more than Rancid) the group is far from Armstrong’s street-punk-meets-ska. Heck, there’s a xylophone in the band, but it’s applied with such force and enthusiasm, the band isn’t “Avant-garde punk.” They just rock. The previous LP, Let Me Go, established the band’s persona. But, their follow-up EP, Good Lord, finds them expanding their vision, while keeping their core identity, no matter how hard it is to define.

First and foremost, the band is as revved up as ever. In fact, EP opener, “Ice Cream” is their hardest charging release to date. As the band kicks out Carl Perkins-meets-Greg Hetson style riffs, frontman Chris Urban rattles off a series of bouncy catch phrases, most notably, “In and out, baby/In and out!/ Yes, that’s what we’re about!” Crazy and the Brains have always embraced the sex jam far more than their contemporaries, and here, that angle is increased, with the band saluting classic 50’s rock metaphors to sex (in the case “I want your ice cream”) all while snickering like a middle schooler about “doing ‘it.’”

Yet, the band also swerves into their darkest material to date. “I’m Rich” finds the band adopting masks and playing out gruesome characterizes of the one percent- and frankly, it’s that much biting that the mid-deeds of the rich they describe are often real. Likewise, “Syreita,” finds Urban spitting towards at his quarry, “I don’t want to be your friends!” While all of this could come across as too misanthropic, the band plays their hand wisely. For every vicious swipe, there’s a bouncy guitar line to make the tune sound like a sock-hop number. Every time Urban sneers are his fellow humans, the ever present xylophone provides a sugary-sweet gloss. (And if you were wondering if the band could once again apply the xylophone to an entire release- they can. Somehow, once again, the band merges the novelty instrument into the band and make it a key, textured, varied component.)

The cassette and downloads comes with ten bonus tracks that act as sort of a “Deluxe Edition” bonus album. The extra tracks stand in stark contrast to the EP tracks. Where the EP tracks are the results of planning and vision (despite their rowdy, spastic nature) the bonus cuts find the band looking for their peculiar hooks. A cover of the Misfits “Hybrid Moments” shows true appreciation for the classics while an acoustic demo of “I’m Rich” shows that the reason that these songs are so strong is that they are powerful at their core, and then built up. The bonus tracks end with a slow burning cover of Barry Bliss’ “All I really Want.” Urban hate someone so much that he wants to roll him “in broken glass. “ Despite the band’s whimsical nature, when they do flash their fangs, it scarier than pretty much any horror-punk or beat-down-hardcore track you could name.

Crazy and the Brains are evolving- they rock more, they’re more inclined to revel in fun for the sake of fun, and sometimes, every so often, they get mean. This release provides hints at how to define this group, but gives no solid answers. Who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men? Wonderful.