Of Z-Guns and Brainbombs
by Matt Neff
I just finished reading issue number one of Z-Gun, a new print zine put out by Scott Soriano and Ryan Wells. It’s 40 pages long with feature length articles and interviews on Pink Reason, San Francisco art punk 1977-1982ish, Black Humor, and Not Not Fun Records, among other things, and they review a boatload of good and bad underground rock records with honesty and humor. If you want the dirt on good rock music in 2007, read this zine. Heaven knows that 99.9% of the zines ever released in the history of the earth suck horribly, yet this one, this one does not.
Scott Soriano writes on page 21: “I was reading some hack in this here cyberspace on how the so-called blogosphere has made print zines obsolete. I agree in part: blogs have made shitty zines obsolete. Now all the fakers & pea-brains can pound away at their keyboards, filling the internet with more and more words, words that will someday disappear with the stroke of a key or the pull of a plug. Just as the CD saved vinyl from being a graveyard of shitty demo 7”s, the internet has siphoned a lot of bad, promo-fueled writing, leaving print for the true obsessives.”
He’s right, you know. I daresay it isn't a problem that's limited to the internet age, though. There’re writers in any era who completely fail to be critical of the shitty, the phony, and the mediocre in art and in life, and I ain’t surprised a whit if the internet turns out to be one giant flypaper strip for these types (said the man writing on the internet, har har). In any case we must continue sifting through the bad to find the good.
Speaking of good.....the article I got most excited about was an interview with Brainbombs, an extremely heavy, repetitive Stoogoid industrial/psychedelic/punk band from Sweden. They’ve been around since 1987 or so (you must forgive twenty-something music nerds like me, we actually have to do continuous research to stumble upon bands that have been common knowledge within the rock cognoscenti world for years) and have performed live in public about three times. I’ve been listening to them far more than modern psychology would probably deem healthy and it’s basically for the amazing focus and purity of their conceptual vision. “Purity!” you snort. “Open thine eyes to yonder postmodernity, scribe!" Well, keep reading and Mr. Waller will explain it below better than I, but this is how Brainbombs operate: every song has just one riff, repeated over and over and over. The guitars sound like they’re hooked up to a radar dish in space that is capturing and translating the punishing solar radiation from some desperate neutron star. A lone high trumpet gently converses with itself over the entire din, and then the best part: the lead singer who progressively murmurs, shouts, and screams, in a perfectly psychotic Swedish accent, the most lurid, depraved, violent, misogynistic, downright evil lyrics a human mind could concoct. Brainbombs rarely give interviews, are terse and mysterious when they do, and also happen to release vinyl that gets snatched up like morphine in a warzone.
Ben Waller of the Country Teasers, from page 10 of Z-Gun: [caps are sic] “BRAINBOMBS ARE TODAY’S ROLLING STONES. HERE’S WHY: IN THE EARLY DAYS OF ROCKNROLL IT WAS ABOUT PRIMAL SCREAM: NOT THE BOBBY G BAND, I MEAN 'I BELIEVE IN THE R N R DREAM: RNR AS PRIMAL SCREAM' (M.E. SMITH; LIVE AT THE WITCH TRIALS). DO YOU HEAR THE PRIMAL SCREAM, ROCK AND ROLL, IN A N Y MUSIC THESE DAYS? - OF COURSE YOU BLOODY DON’T! YOU HEAR EVERYTHING BUT THE PRIMAL SCREAM, YOU HEAR NOT ROCK N ROLL. MY OWN MUSIC IS NOTHING TO DO WITH ROCK AND ROLL. I TRY TO LET A BIT OF PRIMAL SCREAM INTO IT HERE AND THERE TO KEEP IT REAL AND ALL THAT, BUT I’M A COMPOSER, LIKE THE REST OF THESE SAPS IN MUSIC TODAY. LAPTOPS, GARAGE PUNK, KRAUTROCK, RAP: IT’S ALL NOT-ROCK, UNPRIMAL INTELLIGENT DRUM AND BASS. VENEER, SHEEN, TECHNIQUE, KNOWLEDGE, REFERENCE, PRODUCTION. BRAINBOMBS ARE TODAY’S ROLLING STONES BECAUSE THEIR DIRECT, CATCHY MUSIC, ANGER, EMOTION AND HUMOUR CUTS THROUGH ALL OF THE MODERN CONFUSION, MEANINGLESS, COMPLEXITY AND BULLSHIT WITH PURE ROCKNROLL EXPRESSION, LIKE WHEN THE ROLLING STONES DID IT. NO ONE HAS DONE IT SINCE, EXCEPT MAYBE THE SEX PISTOLS.”
You hear that, Phoenix? PRIMAL SCREAM. The undiluted stark raving mad reservoir of the id, hand-raised in a glass jar behind the refrigerator and equipped with amplified nerve receptors and machine-gun dildos. Can you do any better? I’m a sucker for this stuff because Funhouse-era Stooges are still basically my favorite band (I'm a dull person), and Brainbombs have tuned in to that very same cosmo-psychotic frequency that Iggy and co. used to start fires in your dreams.
Have a listen at their myspace and maybe snatch whatever's left of their latest offerings from Armageddon Records or Load Records, because thanks to our nation's record collecting scum their records turn into the filthiest of lucre in no time flat.
Here is a Brainbombs MP3 to give you a taste of their genius. Obligatory insincere lurid content warning : if you are easily offended and/or have no sense of humor please avoid this download, leave the room, cover your ears with your balled fists, etc. etc. Thank you for your understanding.
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