This Ain’t Your Father’s Rock n’ Roll

This ain’t your father’s Rock n’ Roll , back in the day he probably listened to the Beatles or the Stones, Pink Floyd or Jethro Tull; but had they even been around at the time he probably would never have considered listening to someone like the Brooklyn based Babe the Blue Ox who specialized in

“open-ended backyard music as if they’d read the instruction manual backward and then set out to translate it into a foreign language.”

or Dayton, Ohio’s Brainiac who

“reached into Ohio’s rich musical history… for a handful of back-to-the-futuristic cool wave influences.”

and emerged with sounds

“slathered in schizoid punk, synth belches, abstract noise compositions and rhythmic heat… and herky-jerky spazz.”

Babe the Blue Ox formed in 1991 in the Brooklyn apartment of drummer Hanna Fox, thought the trio’s other members, guitarist Tim Thomas and bassist Rosalee Thomson had all originally met while attending Brown University.

Their debut single “There’s Always Room for One More, Honey,” released on Stamp Records, with its “Captain Beefheart take on indie rock” and it’s deliberate use of “jazz, sludge rock and punk to screw up their pop songs” proved to be the archetype for most of their other releases.

Signed to Homestead Records they released the single “Chicken Head Bone Sucker” in 1992, [BOX] and the Je m’Appelle Babe EP followed in 1993, and Color Me Babe in 1994.

[BOX] manages to channel the music of the Butthole Surfers and King Crimson, Basehead and Soul Coughing, but with it’s “challenging tempos, overcaffeinated tension and music, the album is also exhausting.”

On both the six-song Je m’Appelle and 1994’s Color Me Babe the trio “focuses the skittish mania of its presentation,” adding thicker rock textures, bolder melodies and a tad less restlessness to the mix.

Released in 1996, People, the trio’s debut album for major label RCA is Babe the Blue Ox at its most straightforward and rock-like. At times sounding like the Presidents of the United States of America on this album the group moves away from songs constructed about a

“spastic skeleton of firmly held fusion-factory art-funk complexity… a wriggly electric drive-by, a two-line refrain at a completely different syncopated rhythm… a spare instrumental bridge.”

and instead deliver songs, like the bass-heavy “Can’t Stand Up,” “Rube Goldberg” and “Family Picnic” or the pop inflected “Breathe,” and “Stand by Your Man.”

The Way We Were released by RCA in 1998 continues the groups progression towards a more rock like song structure. The songs on the album run the gamut of ’70s funk (George Clinton and Sly Stone), college rock (Pixies, R.E.M.) and the art pop of groups like the B-52’s.

In 1992, long after new wave had drawn it’s last breathe, Brainiac formed in Dayton, Ohio. Originally the basement experiments of vocalist/keyboard player Tim Taylor and bassist Juan Monasterio they added guitarist Michelle Bodine and drummer Tyler Trent and armed with a Realistic Moog synthesizer emerged from the basement

“with a sound that perfectly epitomized the uptight, herky-jerky tension of the early-’80s movement, as well as its warped sense of song structure and electronic breakdown.”

Brainiac began playing around the Midwest on a series of tours supporting groups like Jesus Lizard and Girls Against Boys “while the aggressive, unforgettable stage presence, frontman Tim Taylor” caught the attention of Limited Potential Records, which released the single “Super Duper Seven” in September 1992. Following the release of 1992’s “I Could Own You” a split 7″ with Bratmobile on Dayton’s 12 x 12 Records Brainiac signed with Grass Records.

The group’s debut full length, Smack Bunny Baby, was produced by the Girls Against Boys’ Eli Janney and appeared in 1993. Michelle Bodine left in the 1994 and was replaced by guitarist John Schmersal. The year also saw the release of Bonsai Superstar which

“slathered in schizoid punk, synth belches, abstract noise compositions and rhythmic heat… is a tour de force. From the herky-jerky spazz of “Hot Metal Dobermans” and “Hands of the Genius” to the sexy “Flypaper” and “Fucking With the Altimeter” to the Moog/samples-damaged “Transmissions After Zero,” the album is engaging, frenetic and fucked up in all the right ways.”

A Chicago performance, while playing on Lollapalooza’s second stage, impressed the indie label Touch & Go so much that they signed the band and released their third album, Hissing Prigs in Static Couture, “a spastic gem of, a white-hot slab of new wave dada-punk,” in 1996.

Prior to entering the studio to begin recording their fourth album, Brainiac released the EP, Electro-Shock for President, in 1997.

With their steadily growing reputation there were rumors that major labels, like DreamWorks, were interested in signing them once the new album was finished but…on May 23, 1997, Tim Taylor, while driving home from the studio, was killed in a one-car accident and Brainiac came to an end.

Brainiac Discography

Singles, EPs and Full-length

“Live” (7″) (Twelve-Vex-Twelve) 1992
“I Could Own You” (Split 7″ w/ Bratmobile) (12 x 12 Records) 1992
“Super Duper Seven” (7″) (Limited Potential) 1992
Smack Bunny Baby (CD) (Grass Records) 1993
Bonsai Superstar (CD) (Grass Records) 1994
“Dexatrium” (Split 7″ w/ Lazy) (Simple Solutions) 1994
“Internationale” (7″) (Touch And Go) 1995
Internationale (CD, Single) (Touch And Go) 1995
Hissing Prigs In Static Couture (CD) (Touch And Go) 1996
Hissing Prigs In Static Couture (LP) (Touch And Go) 1996
Electro-Shock For President (CD) (Touch And Go) 1997
Electro-Shock For President (12″) (Touch And Go) 1997

Tracks Appear On:

“Smack Bunny Baby” Buy This Used Compact Disc (CD) (Dutch East India Trading) 1993
“Cookie Doesn’t Sing” Dope-Guns-‘N-Fucking In The Streets Volume Ten (7″) (Amphetamine Reptile Records) 1994
“Go!” Jabberjaw No. 6 Pure Sweet Hell (4×7″ Box/CD) (Mammoth Records) 1996
“Noth1ng 3v3r Chan935” Mind The Gap Volume 8 (CD) (Gonzo Circus) 1996
“Indian Poker Pt. 1” Opscene 50 (CD, Album) (Gap Recordings (NL)) 1996
“Petrified” Ubu Dance Party: A Tribute To Pere Ubu (2xCD) (Datapanik) 1997
“Cookie Doesn’t Sing” Dope Guns ‘N Fucking In The Streets Volumes 8-11 (LP/CD) (Amphetamine Reptile Records) 1997
“Cookie Doesn’t Sing” Dope Guns ‘N Fucking In The Streets Volumes 8-11 (LP/CD) (Amphetamine Reptile Europe) 1997

Brainiac – Bonsai Superstar (1994)

Playing Time: 33 minutes 47 seconds

bonsai superstar cover

1. Hot Metal Dobermans (2:48)
2. Hands of the Genius (2:25)
3. Fucking with the Altimiter (2:24)
4. Radio Apeshot (3:23)
5. Transmissions After Zero (1:36)
6. Juicy (On a Cadillac) (2:28)
7. Flypaper (2:37)
8. Sexual Frustration (3:13)
9. To The Baby-Counter (2:24)
10. You Wrecked My Hair (3:17)
11. Meathook Manicure (1:38)
12. Status: Choke (3:13)
13. Collide (2:21)

Babe The Blue Ox Discography

Singles, EPs and Full-length

“Chicken Head Bone Sucker” (7″ Single) (Homestead) 1993
Box (CD, Album) (Homestead Records) 1993
Box (CD, Album) ( Rough Trade Germany) 1993
Je M’Appelle Babe (CD, MiniAlbum) (Homestead Records) 1993
Color Me Babe (CD, Album) (Rough Trade Germany) 1995
“Fuck This Song” (Radio Edit) (CD Single) (RCA) 1996
People (CD, Album) (RCA) 1996
Live (Promo CD) (RCA) 1996
Way We Were (CD) (RCA) 1998

Tracks Appear On:

“Lady is a Tramp” Chairman of the Board: Interpretations of Songs Made Famous by Frank Sinatra (Grass Records) 1993
“S’Good” Buy This Used Compact Disc (CD) (Dutch East India Trading) 1993
“Chicken Head Bone Sucker” Rough Trade – Music For The 90’s – Vol. 5 / World Service (CD Maxi) (Rough Trade Germany) 1993
“Hazmats” Red Hot + Bothered (CD) (Red Hot/Kinetic/Reprise) 1995
“Stand by your Man” Super Snax Summer ’96
“Stand by Your Man”, “Can’t Stand Up” Music to Floss Your Ears With! (BMG) 1996
“Can’t Stand Up” Masterminds (Edel America) 1997
“Basketball” FMQB Presents Best of CD Aircheck 1992-1994 Volume 37 December 1998
“My Baby ‘n’ Me”, “Basketball” Hear Us Now Summer-Fall 98
“Basketball” (Promo) (RCA) 1999

Babe The Blue Ox – People (1996)

Playing Time: 40 minutes 44 seconds

people cover

1. Can’t Stand Up (3:16)
2. Stand By Your Man (4:08)
3. Rube Goldberg (3:46)
4.Beat You To It (4:01)
5. Fuck This Song (1:42)
6. Breathe (3:35)
7. Family Picnic (2:50)
8. Resume (3:19)
9. I’m Wrong (3:49)
10. Shunpiking (3:52)
11. Just Checking (2:37)
12. Memphis (3:49)

One response to “This Ain’t Your Father’s Rock n’ Roll

  1. Thanks for the link. Specially the Babe The Blue Ox stuff.

    I’m a big fan of Brainiac (have all their material) and also friend of former member John Schmersal, who went to form Enon after the death of Tim Taylor.

    Cheers and great post

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