Brainiac - Internationale [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Internationale [EP] (1995)

Touch and Go

Dayton, Ohio was a scene on the cusp in 1995. The Breeders had hit the big time with “Cannonball”, Guided by Voices had become indie darlings with the release of Bee Thousand in 1994, and Brainiac signed to legendary indie label Touch and Go. Their first release for the label, Internationale was a wholly a product of the Dayton scene. Kim Deal would produce the recording at Cyberteknics Studios on 3rd Street in Dayton. The release would bring the band further attention on the national music scene.

Brainiac’s sound was unique for the mid nineties, while bands like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry were mixing industrial with metal influences and Atari Teenage Riot were mixing punk vocals with hardcore techno music. Brainiac was something different; they took the post-hardcore of Fugazi mixed with Devo’s brand of synthesizer punk. Because of this, the band had a unique combination of experimentation with a true sense of tunefulness. Nowhere was this more apparent than on the first of three songs on the EP, “Go Freaks Go”. The song opened with a synth line that wails like a siren but also manages to get stuck in your head, especially when incorporated into the chorus later in the song. The shining moments on this song though, were the vocals of the late Tim Taylor. His ability to move from a high pitched staccato delivery and a full on throaty yell opened the song up stylistically and created a feel that not many other bands in the nineties had.

The following track, “Silver Iodine” slowed things down significantly, and may well rank among one the mellowest songs in the bands catalog. With a melody and samples that bring to mind everything that was right about synth-rock in the eighties, the band set about creating a mood that is nearly cinematic in its feel.

Closing out with the much louder “Simon Says” the band proved once again that not only were they able to have a somewhat experimental sound, but that they knew how to write a hook. The vocal delivery on the line “Simon says, you’re dead” sold the whole song. The song had a great groove too, which was never something you say about Nine Inch Nails or Ministry and while you could certainly dance to Atari Teenage Riot, there was no groove. There was soul and a power to these guys you just weren’t finding from many of their contemporaries.

In a fair world, Brainiac would be as well known as any of the bands who found themselves at the top of the charts in the mid to late nineties. Sadly, their career was cut short when Tim Taylor lost his life in an automobile accident in 1997. The band had released their first full length on Touch and Go the previous year and were working on their debut for Interscope Records. Their influence was felt across the music scene though, with everyone from Mars Volta, Muse, Death Cab For Cutie, and even Trent Reznor stating the owe some debt to the band’s catalogue. Internationale was the EP that brought them the attention to have that influence, and it’s as good of a place as any for a someone not familiar with the band to start listening.