As with 1994’s Bonsai Superstar the new Brainiac album, Hissing Prigs in Static Couture (their first for Touch & Go), is pretty good, but for this Dayton quartet music is only a part of the equation. Borrowing liberally from Ohio’s famous 70s futuristic art-punks Devo and Pere Ubu, Brainiac’s music is defiantly simple–more often than not it can be reduced to a mere Neanderthal stomp. But gussied up with all manner of weird sonic ephemera–mostly antiquated synthesizers and quaint devices to contort the ecstatic vocals of Timmy Taylor–the group’s sound takes on larger-than-life proportions. While there’s evidence of songwriting ability in such near-melodic tunes as “Nothing Ever Changes” and “Hot Seat Can’t Sit Down,” for the most part Brainiac revel in hard-rocking monochromatic vamps–and their showmanship does the rest. They hold court with supreme arrogance, but instead of dull rock-star excess they exude a caustic fabulousness. Taylor’s manic presence suggests the empty confrontational style of D.C.’s late Nation of Ulysses, but Brainiac have the chops, if not the songs, to back up the bluster. Donned in eccentric color-coordinated, thrift-store splendor, the band members mockingly emulate dozens of cliched rock-star moves without ever breaking character. And with their imaginative combination of retro-hipster lingo, unflinching hysterics, and unalloyed confidence, it’s hard not to be sucked in. You may not remember what you heard later, but you’ll remember what you saw. Wednesday, 9 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620. Thursday, 8 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton; 486-2700.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Lee Ann McGuire.