Brainswarm | Brainswarm

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by Brainswarm

Like the lumbering ghost of damaged '80s rock stalking a young, unmarried couple in a trailer park, Brainswarm comes at you with a fistful of riffs, broken-glass melodies and enough rusty beats to blow the lips off a robot.
Genre: Rock: Space Rock
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Weirdo Hero
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4:02 album only
2. American Idyl
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4:08 album only
3. Perspectives
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4:00 album only
4. Soul Ship
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3:57 album only
5. Brain Swarm
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5:04 album only
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
Like the lumbering ghost of damaged '80s rock stalking a young, unmarried couple in a trailer park, Brainswarm comes at you with a fistful of riffs, broken-glass melodies and enough rusty beats to blow the lips off a robot.

Re-uniting members of such FPM bands as Dishwater Psychics and Bullet Gastino, Brainswarm features the surreal throwback vocals of FPM newcomer Tim Donovan, the distinctively churning guitar of Ken Clark, Chris Jones' creepy, steady bass, and Dan Miller's loping drums.

Brainswarm is the only FPM band in which every member lives in the same state, so it's no surprise they betray a decidedly strong Ohio influence. It's easy to see how the cracked pavement, gray skies, rural vistas and suffocating winters of that region influenced the twisted lyrics and melodies. What's surprising is how quickly they beg for repeat listens, and the way you'll find yourself humming them long after the headphones get kicked behind the burning La-Z-Boy.


to write a review

Stephen Carradini

Independent Clauses (2/10/10)
Independent Clauses (2/10/10)

Friendly Psychics Music, as I have recently explained, is a bit out there. Sometimes their weirdness is endearing. Sometimes it’s visionary. Sometimes it’s just weird.

“ Just plain weird” is the case with Brainswarm’s self-titled 5-song EP. I’m used to odd vocals, disjointed song structures and peculiar sound choices from FPM, but Brainswarm is confusing on top of that. Instead of just being fully weird, Brainswarm’s modus operandi is to fuse the peculiar aesthetics indigenous to FPM onto pop songs. And not just indie-pop songs, but straight-up, guitar-jangle, REM-esque pop songs. “Perspectives” has wildly swooping vocals, weird background vocals, and odd noises in the background. But the majority of the song sounds like it could have busted out of the late eighties or early nineties. The bridge redeems the song significantly, but the whole thing is just a tough swallow. The goofy asides at the beginning of songs don’t help the feel that something is off, either.

“ Soulship,” however, injects some direction into this otherwise peculiar release. Somewhere between a power-ballad and a wasted-earth pan shot (the latter of which comprises some of the best songs in the FPM catalog), the song pulses along with an otherworldly energy. The vocals sound desperate and certain at the same time, lending an eerie mood to the already off-putting precedings. It’s the track with the most atmosphere and the most successful outcome. Also, it doesn’t sound anything like Michael Stipe. And that helps.

“ Brain Swarm” taps into the same vein that “Soulship” hit at the beginning, but it proceeds into guitar stomp that sets it back. It just feels weird against the mood that they had previously set up.

Brainswarm’s self-titled EP is one of the more confusing things that I’ve heard in a while. It is a strange brew, and not one that sits well with me. “Soulship” is great, but the rest of the release leaves me scratching my head. I’d suggest a Dishwater Psychics release or Derecho’s latest for those interested in Friendly Psychics.

- Stephen Carradini

Nick Browne

Whisperin & Hollerin (1/8/10)
Whisperin & Hollerin (1/8/10)

The blurb that comes with Brainswarm’s debut E.P. states that it sounds “Like the lumbering ghost of damaged 80’s rock”. I personally think it sounds in a lot of places like 70’s rock, and that’s no bad thing, as this debut E.P. is quite good in some places.

Brainswarm consists of former members of bands such as Dishwater Psychics and Bullet Gastino, along with Tim Donovan on vocals. Track 1 ‘Weird Hero’ starts off all churning guitar riffs with swirling synths, and on first hearing, musically, wouldn’t be too far removed from the type of work that Mr. Bowie was doing circa ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, with slightly skewed lyrics “It’s very beautiful, let’s crack it open, take a peek at what’s inside”. This is a track that bears repeated listening, and is quite a good opener.

The next track, ‘American Idyl’ (sic) ups the ante about 1000%, being a post punk slow jolter with clever lyrics that are designed to inflame, their target being the heart of the corporate American dream, which they gleefully tear open showing its empty insides. “Your life is a fallacy, wrapped in plastic packaging ….. convenient and chic” The lyrics strike hard, and hit all the right spots, so that you can feel the singer’s loathing:
“ This American idyll, disengaged from reality, This American Idyll, an Icon of Hypocrisy”.

This is probably the strongest track on the E.P., which is a pity, because track 3, ‘Perspectives’ is the weakest track on this offering, being some sub R.E.M. jangly type pop that is best forgotten. Track 4, ‘Soulship’ luckily save this E.P. from going off course, returning to a 70’s based rock format that wouldn’t make this song seem out of place on a compilation progressive “space” rock album! “ You gotta set controls for the sun, strap yourself in for some fun, take your soulship higher, higher baby” This is upbeat and lifts the tone of the E.P.

Finally ‘Brain Swarm’ closes the E.P. This track is oppressive and claustrophobic, with spiky guitar lines and dark synth noises that were a little bit Pere Ubu, a little bit Killing Joke, with the eternal theme about angst and alienation. “ I just want to be myself, Not another someone else”. All in all, I liked this CD, however it would have been even better (and would have scored higher) if they had left out ‘Perspectives’. It will be interesting to see what they produce next.

author: Nick Browne
7 out of 10

J. Sin

Erasing Clouds (11/07/09)
Erasing Clouds (11/07/09)

A quick EP of ghoully late ‘80s modern rock alternative, Brainswarm sounds like a bit Zombiefied but it isn’t. Perfect pick for this Halloween though.

-J. Sin

Lex Thiel (10/13/09) (10/13/09)

Brainswarm - Brainswarm
(Friendly Psychics Music) 9 stars

Brainswarm consist of musicians of no longer active bands Bullet Gastino and Dishwater Psychics who used to be on Friendly Psychics Music. Brainswarm is also the label’s only band where all members live in the same state. Insiders will quickly hear the unmistakable Ohio flavour.

And truly, the band reminds me mostly of Guided By Voices from Dayton, Ohio. As is customary on this label, we get their beloved lo-fi sound, something which in the past sometimes failed due to lacklustre production values. Brainswarm do everything right though and play earthy rock that can unhesitatingly be called timeless. Vocalist Tim Donovan has a very agreeable voice, not unlike that of Robert Pollard, that also stays masculine in higher registers. The five tracks featured on the EP are all fabulous, but there is still one unsurpassable highlight with Perspectives that has all the qualities of a GBV classic like for instance Teenage FBI. While the band is opting for a raspy sound on the first three tracks, they end the record with two slower numbers, where especially the concluding title track enchants due to its unusual structure.

This debut sounds extremely promising, making me wonder if Brainswarm have even crafted the strongest musical statement ever to be released on their label. Those who love American lo-fi music will find no way around Brainswarm. Let’s hope they have the necessary potential to follow this up with a longplayer sometime in the near future.

-Lex Thiel