We are absolutely gutted that we can only review this EP good three weeks after its release (came out on March 13th 2020) but the world has been in chaos lately. Maybe you noticed… However social isolation has good sides – you can sit on your ass and listen to a lot of music. We will not complain too much about being four weeks into a self imposed exile then. After all this is what music scouts do anyway if not attending gigs: typing away mountains of text about artists they seen or are about to see. Plus, the fridge is stocked and we have 24 pieces of toilet roll…So without any more ado, here is the record we will be ranting about on this blog today. Meet the band.
Liam Mckeown (vox, guitar)
Jakob Cusp (guitar, keys)
William S Carrott (bass)
Connor Doyle (drums, percussion)
Brain Food are a four-piece cosmic psych outfit originally hailing from the suburbs of East Birmingham. Forming in the dying embers of 2017, the band have been making waves with their energetic, spaced-out and shimmering live set. In their brief history they have supported the likes of Insecure Men, Froth, Stonefield, Boy Azooga, Frankie & The Witch Fingers, Dead Coast, Man of Moon and Public Access TV. August 2018 saw the release of debut EP “Get One On”, a DIY project of five tracks recorded, mixed and produced by the band, on their own makeshift record label, Room 15 Records.
Birmingham is known nationally (and internationally if you ever poked your nose outside the disunited kingdom) for having a vibrant psychedelic and garage scene. If you are local we don’t necessarily have to introduce you to the likes of DOXA, Table Scraps, Cherry Pickles, The Cosmics or The Lizards. Chances are you drink with members of those bands more often at The Sunny than we do. However if you don’t hang around Digbeth too often, Second City may be uncharted musical waters. Then you are cordially invited to have a look at this BLOG we did for the scene and check out the playlists. It`s worth it – we will tell you this much.
Brain Food are part of the vibrant Brummie scene and their new, self -titled EP is exceptional, in many regards. It is first time in aeons that we had a pleasure to listen to a space psychedelia record. For those who are not into musical genres: space psychedelia (also known as “space rock”) originated in the late 1960`s and is recognised by lengthy compositions with distorted, other-worldly vocals. Hypnotic drums and keyboards often accommodate poetic, mystic and science-fiction themed lyrics. This sub-genre of psychedelic and progressive rock came to prove itself to be very influential, inspiring every musical movement from the 80s onward: grunge, stone rock, shoe gaze to post rock. Early enthusiasts of the space sound were Jimmy Hendrix, Marc Bolan, The Beatles and Pink Floyd. The ground breaking “wah wah” sound was born out of the genre. But we digress…
The band sticks to a very traditional definition of space psychedelia – this record is full of wonderful riffs, mellow if minimal drumming, ethereal vocals and lyrics that evoke emotional and spiritual sides of humanity. It`s 27 minutes that should be spent lying in the grass on a summer day with your eyes closed and enjoying the sun on one`s face.
Opening the record is “Poseidon” – although not a leading single – it is a perfect introduction to the EP. The song greets us with a powerful riff and the words “Wake Up – what do you see?”. The low bass and heavy drums giving this track such a groovy, trippy feeling.
Then comes “Canyon Crawler” with its oriental theme and deep, echo like effects. The song changes tempo several times over the course of seven minutes but does not feel too dragging or boring. It is very Beatles-que in nature (meant in the best way possible).
“That Feeling” could give Pink Floyd a good run for their money had Brain Food been born few decades into the past. For some reason we love how the vocals sound – there is no indication that they have been reinforced but it feels like there is more than one voice singing.
“Cosmic Jones” starts with a wah wah motif to explode into a distorted, quietly beautiful love song. It may be a strange observation but this is the only song that brings outthe fact that Brain Food are a British band. You can hear the strong West Midland accent clearer than on other compositions. Though out the record you can`t place where the band comes from – they could easily pose for American quartet or anywhere else in the world. Which adds to the charm of the EP – anyone from any corner of the world could relate. But on “Cosmic Jones” the band is undisputedly British. Also its our favourite track from the record. Not related to the fact that we are Anglophiles.
The EP ends with “Forbidden Tongue”. What we really love about this track are those long guitar solos that are the central part of composition. Vocals are here relocated to the back seat and treated alongside with other instruments. Very clever idea.
It`s hard to rate this record. Brain Food do not reinvent the wheel. But it`s such a strong space psychedelic release in all its classical glory. And we have a soft spot for all things psychedelic!
This is a kick ass* release and if you can get your hand on it – do so. Hopefully we will get a physical release sooner than later.
*Kick ass is equivalent of at least 4.5 out of 5.
You can follow Brain Food on social media:
There is so much happening on the Brum scene we need to possibly consider a larger piece. Brain Food is one of those bands that you need to know if you want to know what`s hot on the indie circuit.
Big thank you to Sophie Hack (Bread Birmingham) for helping us with this review. Apologies for the delay.