Leave it to St. Louis, where the current DIY scene feels less overburdened by stale trends than in other comparable cities and where there is still space for genuine weirdos that hasn’t been crowded out by people performing weirdness, to produce a garage band like The Brainstems, who sound more like one of the crop of quality Australian DIY rock groups than they do the franchised LA garage sound.
Take a listen to their debut LP, No Place Else, which we premiere here today (speaking of the Australian sound, it was mastered by Mikey Young of Total Control, who I’m not sure sleeps and very well may be superhuman). There’s zero BBQ sauce here – this isn’t a PARTY DUUUUUUUDE, flamingo-with-backwards-hat-and-sunglasses, my-first-tattoo-was-a-neck-tattoo band. These are straightforward, well-written, hooky songs with just enough guitar solo – the solos here don’t feel hammy. If it’s party rock, it’s rock for a party full of your closest friends who you actually care about seeing, rather than a party full of drunk randos and jerks that talk too loud at you about things you hate and one naked guy running around violating everyone’s boundaries.
The recording has the kind of scratchy surface this style calls for, but is otherwise remarkably clean. These songs feel finished, rather than carelessly tossed off. An album like this is proof even for those of us who are deeply weary of Straightforward Rock n’Roll that there’s still value in the formula, that it can still be done right. This is an album made for the love of playing music with your friends. That kind of honesty carries through.
The Brainstems share a member with Lumpy and the Dumpers, which totally makes sense.
You can stream No Place Else below. It will be available November 27, 2015 on Bad Diet Records. There are 100 limited edition copies on opaque vinyl with a “blood accent” and a double-sided poster with art by Shelby Hohl and Lumpy.