EP: Brain Food – Brain Food 13.03.20

Words by Ed King / Pics by Radek Kubiszyn (Psychedelic Eye)

‘According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history.’

I was Googling ‘Friday the 13th’ to come up with some witty framing technique, as Birmingham’s psych rockers, Brain Food, have ear marked this notorious end of the week to release their self-titled sophomore EP. But in the wake of a bulbous buffoon with his finger on the button and the grip of fear the world’s most popular sneeze has on half the planet…

A five track kaleidoscope of echoing psychedelia, Brain Food EP by Brain Food is indeed a tasty cranium treat – opening with ‘Poseidon’ and a surprisingly dirty riff, which had me fish hooked from the off, Liam McKeown’s perfectly lost vocals soon slide across the track.

An almost perfect front man for a band covered in the glow of a hyperactive lava lamp, McKeown sets the tone perfectly on the EP’s opener – sitting somewhere between a rock star joie de vivre and an introspective blotter acid trip in the dark corners of a Velvet Underground after party. Works for me.

But this is prog-something-psych-something-rock-something else… so, a small noodling siren is sounded as ‘Canyon Crawler’ sends seven minutes of blissed out guitar waves over a slowly marching tempo. It drags a little, to me. Today. If I was a younger man with a bit more mind left I’d probably be finding ways to lose it in this, but after about five minutes I’ll admit I’m swimming to the shore.

Then, as if my silent selfish prayer was answered, ‘That Feeling’ draws a sweet line down the middle of this Brain Food EP – in a surprisingly short (under four minutes??) foray into a more melody led track. It might be a bit too accessible for the prog purists, and you could be forgiven for thinking if psych rock was ever going to be radio friendly this is probably the closest it is going to get, but it’s still a damn fine few minutes.

‘Cosmic Jones’ takes us down the other side of the hill – opening with a cheeky little wah wah and keeping us cheerily on our toes for just over five minutes of soft crescendos and pretty nifty fretwork. Before the swan song of ‘Forbidden Tongue’ closes the show, which you can check out below instead of reading me try to be funny.

Which reminds me, where was I with that framing technique…

I’m not sure how many registered voters this EP will keep safe on its auspicious release day, but the idea (and to quote another LSD soaked ensemble) of encouraging the hope barren masses to ‘feed your head’ instead of panic buying toilet paper couldn’t be better placed.

And Brain Food by Brain Food seems to sum it up quite nicely this Friday the 13th… so, put that in your literary trope and smoke it.

‘Forbidden Tongue’ – by Brain Food

On Friday 13th March 2020, Brain Food release their self-titled second EP, Brain Food. For more on Brain Food, both the band and the extended play, visit www.facebook.com/brainfoodofficial

Brain Food are also hosting an EP launch party at The Night Owl on Saturday 14th March, with Cave Girl and Exhaler supporting. For more gig info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page.


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EP: Five Songs – Youth Man 29.06.18

Five Songs – Youth Man 29.06.18

Words by Emily Doyle / Pics courtesy of Youth Man

When asked to review Youth Man’s newest release, Five Songs EP, I was apprehensive.

I’ve been a fan of Birmingham’s premier sex-punk outfit since my uni days. I mean, a turn up to every show wearing the t-shirt kind of a fan. Since I first heard them, they’ve toured with Sacramento’s Trash Talk. They’ve appeared on festival bills both home and away, and are set to play Afropunk Brooklyn 2018 this summer alongside Janelle Monae, Tyler The Creator, and Erykah Badu.

Youth Man‘s previous Venn Records release, Wax, went down in the Midland’s heavy history, along with its ode to Jeremy Corbyn. They even got the director of The Prodigy’s ‘Nasty’ music video, Oliver Jones, to animate the stop motion short for ‘Look/Wait’, which sees the then-trio abducted by aliens. (This inspired some clumsy questioning from Drowned In Sound’s International Women’s Day 2017 Round Table, resulting in guitarist Kaila Whyte telling them she wished she had “suction pads attached to (her) extremities.”)

I’ve also been impatient for the new EP, but my gut feeling was that I’d struggle to be a balanced, impartial listener. I mulled it over. If I review Five Songs I get my hands on it before the release date…

Five Songs begins with ‘Mainland’. Considering both Youth Man’s blistering live reputation, and the fact that this EP clocks a duration of under fifteen minutes, you’d expect them to come in all guns blazing. The opening melody of ‘Mainland’ is disarmingly fragile. It’s not long before Marcus Perks kicks in with a metallic beat on the drums, though. Familiar growling bass underpins Whyte’s vocals, which progress to a Gothic wail.

The majority of Five Songs was thoroughly road-tested, so anyone who’s seen Youth Man live in the last six months or so will recognise ‘Valley Girl’ as soon as they hear its frantic, one note guitar line. Dissonant as it may be, tracks like this showcase the group’s appreciation for a good old fashioned hook.

Stuttering, sing-a-long choruses, hand claps, and a committed middle-eight breakdown hold your hand through the textured math rock sound. The record’s lead single ‘I Don’t Know’ takes a similar approach. Doo-woppy backing vocals triumph over fuzzed out guitar to make this their most accessible track to date.

Five Songs represents a crystallisation of the Youth Man sound. Hardcore-punk snobs could be forgiven for thinking this means they’ve softened with age, but the heft behind their music is present as ever. ‘Constantly’ is one minute forty of primal ¾ noise that echoes the density of their 2013 Bad Weather EP, while the capricious ‘Statuesque’ seems to close the record with less of a exclamation point and more of an interrobang.

Youth Man have expanded their musical horizons; Five Songs is less abrasive than their back catalogue, but every bit as outspoken. It may feature gospel flavoured backing vocals and the odd homemade percussion instrument, but each track on the EP still twitches with punk rock venom.

‘I Don’t Know’ – Youth Man (from Five Songs EP) 











Five Songs EP by Youth Man is out on 29th June, released via Alcopop! Records. To order a copy direct from the label, visit  www.ilovealcopop.awesomedistro.com/products/youth-man-five-songs 

For more on Youth Man, visit www.youthman.bandcamp.com

For more on Alcopop! Records, visit www.ilovealcopop.awesomedistro.com