A chance of Brain
Fake Brain rounds up the usual subjects love, hate, sex, geopolitics and intestinal distress and turns them into loud, fast, sarcastic, intelligent rock and roll.
By JOSHUA TANZER
By now you should have bought all the "Mess" CDs and worn the "Mess" T-shirt and then coolly told people at parties you were into "Mess" before they were popular.
Five years ago, the brand-new band's cassette got a good writeup from CMJ and the buzz started. "We got all these calls from record companies, which we were totally unprepared for," recalls Gideon Kendall. "We also got a 'cease and desist' order from another band called Mess in the Midwest. So we changed our name and totally bungled the record deals."
|Gideon Kendall (vocals, "the instrument")|
James Pertusi (bass, vocals)
Marc Friedlander (drums, vocals)
Andrew Solin (guitar, vocals).
Related links: Official site
| MERCHANDISE FOR SALE |
|Available from CDBaby.com:|
| AUDIO |
|Erasable Mattress || MP3|
|Jesus Pamphlets || MP3|
|Meat and Money || MP3|
|Parasites || RA|| MP3|
|Reset Button || RA|| MP3|
| © Fake Brain. Used by permission.|
Thus was Fake Brain born. Kendall actually doesn't care for the name, but he says it's too late to change it now. "And at least the name is so bad that nobody has it."
Fake Brain specializes in smartly written songs with a satirical bite most of it good, hard, fast, raunchy, punk-influenced rock but some of it smoother pop and deceptively gentle ballads.
My favorite is "Meat and Money" (hear it on MP3), an imaginary conversation between the two title characters. I could scare you off by calling it a sophisticated metaphor for the replacement of violence with finance as a means of controlling the world and the little people in it, but that would only make it sound like a term paper which it isn't. It is, I think, as great an angry rock song as has ever been written.
Kendall notes that the song owes its verse structure to Bob Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts," and the lyrics are also in some sense Dylanesque oblique but purposeful:
Meat said to Money while chewin' on his own leg,
You know I've still got my pride and I don't like to beg,
But if you loaned me a bank or two I wouldn't complain too much,
I'd just finish chewin' my leg off and go buy a golden crutch.
And then I'd get the hell away from you as fast as I could get
Cuz every time I hang around with you I wind up in debt.
The only good thing about the past is that it's over,
And the only good thing about the future is that it hasn't happened yet.
With music like this, Kendall by day a freelance illustrator who paints his own record covers must be a very angry guy. Right? Well, no, he says. "That's what the songs are for," he explains. "I've had people say to me either about my songs or my paintings, 'Wow, you must be really angry or fucked up' or whatever. And I probably would be if I didn't sing and paint."|
For a completely different side of Fake Brain, there's "Erasable Mattress" (MP3) a love ballad that stays sweet for all of two lines before turning surreal and then satirical. It's not only got a twist at the end even the twist has a twist. Why does this sensitive guy wish he had an erasable mattress? Listen and find out.
You might be a master of satire too if you grew up where Kendall did. A misfit in the Bible Belt, he read Rolling Stone and dreamed of the musical revolution that was happening in some places but not rural Texas. Dream was all he could do, because there wasn't a punk-rock record to be had in the area and he could only imagine what the music sounded like. And then a few things trickled in.
"Somehow my stepdad got a copy of the first Gang of Four album, and that was unlike anything we had heard before," he recalls. "I heard the first Dead Kennedys album and I thought it was Iggy Pop because I had never heard Iggy Pop."
The family moved to Philadelphia when Kendall was in high school, and he finally found a home in New York when he attended Cooper Union as an art student. "I'd never seen so many record stores. I used my student loan money to buy records," he says.
After a stint with the band Very Pleasant Neighbor, he started this band, playing bass as well as singing. Only in the last year, with James Pertusi taking over bass duties, does he feel he has the lineup he wants. Marc Friedlander plays drums, Andrew Solin plays guitar, and Kendall is free to devote himself to singing, roam the stage and flail to the music.
The band's latest effort was released with a bash at the Knitting Factory recently, and if the earlier songs were a little weighty, the new CD "Push" has a silly side. "Reset Button" (RA, MP3) offers sexual advice such as "Don't believe a thing they tell ya when it comes to genitalia." "Parasites" (RA, MP3) shamelessly celebrates digestive distress:
She's walking around like the very act
of walking around is breaking her back.
There's something inside her intestinal tract
and it's stealing her protein and it won't give it back.
You can pick up a copy of this CD at the band's next gig. Then, years from now, you can tell everyone you were into Fake Brain before they were popular.
Postscript: The Fake Brain web site accidentally attributed a quote to me saying, "This is what Dylan would sound like, maybe, if he'd grown up listening to Gang of Four. Great beat, smart writing, clever songs," which somebody else, I'm not sure who but definitely not me, said. But on the other hand, it's not like I wouldn't say it, so, um, here it is. Quote me all you want.
|MARCH 27, 2001|
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Reader comments on Fake Brain:
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