There are not many bands that can meld the sound of pigs screaming while being slaughtered behind a layer of lush, chorused pop vocals. Then again, not many bands would go out of their way to drive several hours up Highway 101 to the nearest pig ranch, located just north of San Luis Obispo, in order to record the sound of pigs screaming while being slaughtered themselves on a low-quality recording device. But, as the Hairbrain Scheme has taught us with the release of their very first EP, they will spare no expense and go to any length to get the first-rate stuff that their loyal Isla Vista fans have grown to expect.
The album, titled, You’re A Nation, features six of the Hairbrain Scheme’s most recognizable songs, made infamous by exhaustive touring of the greater Isla Vista area. The longtime crowd pleaser, “Jack the Dripper,” notably featuring Chris Nava’s nimble little fingers on keyboard, captures the macabre nature of the band’s music most aptly with its waltzing-to-the-crematorium swagger. My personal favorite, however, has always been “Crack in the Streets,” a riotous anthem about, well, the message is kind of cryptic, but it’s a song that rips you out of your chair and hurls you into a brick wall. It’s a metal song with lots of synth and vocals so smooth – and, again, laden with pig noises – that they would make a woman over the age of 35 sweat. It’s a fist-waver, kids.
Lyrically – an element lost at many of the band’s live shows – the last song, “High Standard Mortuary (HSS),” delivers a biting punch line to the thematic derangement of the album. Take, for example, the line: “Little do they know / She’s in my refrigerator door.” As one of the album’s two love songs, which I believe are really written to the same person and probably a mindlessly obvious sublimation of Grant Parsons’ sick fantasies – or secret reality that he keeps hidden from his close friends and bandmates – “HSS” is a perfect example of the intoxicatingly ridiculous nature of this band. If the Hairbrain Scheme is indeed made up of a bunch of cannibalistic miscreants, I thank them sincerely that they at least have the balls to make an album that brings these pertinent societal issues into the public sphere.
If you haven’t heard this band yet, I insist that you go to their website www.thehairbrain.com. They are one of the only truly invigorating bands in our local music scene, a regional delicacy for sure. In fact, the last time I spoke with the Hairbrain Scheme, they were recruiting a massive following of meat-eaters to go with them on their World Tour, tentatively scheduled for 2015. That means that all you vegetarians out there still have time to get those enzymes up and running before they leave for Kazakhstan!
[Rebecca Riley is currently subsisting on an all pork diet. Yum.]