Crazy and the Brains - Brain Freeze [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Crazy and the Brains

Brain Freeze [EP] (2015)

Baldy Longhair

Crazy and the Brains are now operating at full power. Since their debut, the band has combined a classic punk edge, garage rock energy, Beach Boy harmony, and a xylophone. But, with each subsequent release, the band has trimmed off the fat, beefed up their core strengths, and sped up the pace. The Brain Freeze single finds the band using their core strengths to excel at what they do best.

The title track opens with a surf guitar riffing while the famed xylophone comes crashing down. Frontman Chris Urban lets out a death howl before the band snaps into the song proper. As Urban flits between lamenting unrequited love and his own mental health, he tears forward at the pace of The Clash. But while the song focuses on Urban trying to get his brain back together, the musicians pay tribute to the wonderful melody of mid-'60s rock. There’s a little Brian Wilson here, a little Dion Belmont there, and some Frankie Valli over there. The result is a song that juggles the serene with the psychotic. As always, the band never fully tilts one way or another, but by the way the band tears the song apart at the end (like all the greatest rock tunes) the proof is in the execution.

“Good Boy” finds the band further delving into the characters they have created for themselves. As they paint pictures of being outcasts, they scream out “I’m a goodboooooy!” before announcing “I’m ugly and I’m happy!” It’s hard to pin down the exact angle that they’re striking, and that’s what makes the release so interesting. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the band rips through the tune with a Looney Tunes-like whimsy. It opens with some smashing guitar lines before suddenly snapping into a short xylophone solo before being finally cut off. One thinks of the famous Bugs Bunny cartoon where he dances, fights, and spazzes out through an orchestral performance.

The cassette version has a host of bonus tracks that triple the playing time. The main course there is a cover of Johnny Thunders’ cover of the Shangri-Las' “Great Big Kiss.” Like Thunders, the band plays up the hamminess of the song while maintaining a respect for its core composition. And like Thunders, the band hints at a dark nihilism behind the sunflowers.

The release gets rounded out with some minute long demos. The tracks act as instructional devises and as previews. As to the former, these raw, low-fi cuts show that the reason this band rocks so hard is because their tunes are rooted in a central love for the classic rock n roll song. As to the latter, it seems the band is getting weirder, scarier, and if “Get Around” and “K8” are to be believed, perhaps a bit more melancholy.

Unfortunately, it’s rare for bands to truly capitalize on the potential suggested by their earlier releases. Crazy and the Brains have done just that. This band rocks… but there’s so much more to them than that.