The Brainstems, a St Louis garage band, clench a song-writing style that provokes ferocious grit and recklessness. They follow the lineage and style of many garage bands, a genre that has been around since the 70s. Their music transports the listener through a wild journey dotted with elements of psychedelia, grunge, and punk.
No Place Else, their debut LP, starts off with Stallionning. The opening track lures its listeners with a one minute build up, starting off with a simple lead guitar line, which is then joined with the bass part, constructing a simple yet alluring harmony. The drums join in, build up the tension, then before you know it, an outbreak of raw, energetic and fuzzy riffs occur, setting the tone for the LP. The vocals in Stallionning complement perfectly the loud and grungy ambiance set by the instrumentals.
The following couple of songs, Keep it Together, Redline and The Fourth, follow similar narratives, adorned with catchy riffs, and a driving drum track.
The opening riff of track 5 Simple Joys, reminded me of contemporary indie rock, notably the likes of Franz Ferdinand or the Arctic Monkeys. The vocals however seemed to put out a hint of a Jimi Hendrix feel, adding to the psychedelic element of the band.
What It Is, my personal favourite, starts with a melancholic and soft vocal melody, the lyrics remain ambiguous and to an extent poetic talking about a certain ‘place.’ The rhythm picks up, in a manner that reminded me of The Doors, and the rest of the song made me feel like I was in a madhouse. Dismantled and chaotic guitar parts over a consistent drum part plunges the listener into 70s psychedelia and Rock N’ Roll.
4244, the 7th track, opens with probably the catchiest riff of the LP. The rest of the song is what you’d expect from The Brainstems: energy, memorable vocal lines, and more energy.
The Ooze, seems to be the perfect soundtrack to going on a drinking rampage with your friends. The constant punk-like drumming of the song and blast-beats injects the listener with a high dose of adrenaline. ‘I’m the Ooze!’ What is an Ooze? I don’t want to know.
Untold Heights’ opening lyric says it all: ‘Open the window, let it all out!’ Again, constant blast-beats. Which is a good thing, by the way. The song kind of makes you want to open your window and shout for no reason at pedestrians walking by. Reminded me of punk acts such as the Sex Pistols or Black Flag.
The LP follows up with Warm Skin. These guys do not know how to slow down.
Escalators and Elevators starts off as pretty laid back psychedelic rock music. But guess what? It accelerates. It builds up to a compelling hi-tempo rhythm, with loud and lively vocals. The guitar parts seem happy, dynamic and propulsive.
I was surprised when The People’s Joy, track 12 came on, as it begins with a bluesy guitar riff. The structure differs from the other songs, as there are no build ups, but it creates variety. The swing riff sits well on its own after all. Time to Ride is a great ending to the LP. It invites the audience to sing along, with bold and engaging vocal lines.
No Place Else, released by Bad Diet, is a heady mix of garage, punk and psychedelia. It is an exhilarating ride, with bursts of energy, disarray and dementia. Highly recommended.
by Ronan Kemp