I don’t play Electric Fungus very often, but every time I do I’m shocked at how damn good it is and can’t figure out why it never seems to make it into regular rotation on my iPod.
I have to confess that I’m reviewing a CD here, not vinyl. I know, the blog is called “Life in the Vinyl Lane” and all that, but it’s really all about the music. And let’s be real – a lot of stuff never came out on vinyl, and I won’t let that stop me from listening to it. Electric Fungus was a recommendation from our last visit to Reykjavik’s Lucky Records back in April (and I can’t wait to go back there again in October!) – my man Gestur put it in my hand and basically told me I had to buy it. He looked like he meant business, and I’m not one to argue with anything that Gestur and Ingvar recommend, so into the ever growing stack of CDs (which was on top of a gy-normous stack of records) it went. And I must say, Gestur hit it out of the park with this one.
Brain Police is a four piece from Iceland who’s sound reminds me a hell of a lot of Clutch – heavy bass and tuned down guitar, sharp and precise playing that every now and again gets a little sloppy… but you know the sloppiness is intentional and it always comes in at just the perfect spots. Released in 2004 (if you look it up on Discogs you’ll only find the 2008 American re-release listed – my copy is the 2004 Iceland version), Electric Fungus is sometimes described as “stoner rock,” and I suppose that’s as good a genre as any. It’s tuned down, raspy, heavy, and kicks ass. Plus as an added bonus for us non-Icelanders all their songs are sung in English so you can follow along. The Icelandic version of the CD includes a DVD that has two pretty long (roughly an hour combined) behind the scenes home movies (in Icelandic… dammit!) as well as the video for “Coed Fever,” which is cool if you can find that version.
Electric Fungus opens with a full length instrumental track called “Stay Rock,” which frankly sounds like a lame idea until you actually hear the song – I guarantee you that you’ll find yourself rocking out to it. It shouldn’t work, but it just does. It’s slow and heavy and sort of wanders around a bit with a cool guitar lick thrown in here and there for good measure and always gets me psyched up for the rest of the album. That’s immediately followed by what is probably the cleanest, most radio friendly song on the album, “Coed Fever,” which is what Nickelback would sound like if they were heavy (and I don’t mean that in a bad way).
The rest of the album maintains a solid rockin’ pace, with most songs having both great intros and outros (the last two minutes of “2113 (Sea Weed)” is a slowed down heavy psych instrumental). My favorite track is probably “Undercover Through Your Mother” which opens with a heavy funk bass line and has the coolest sounding chorus (“We’re gonna turn back into night…“) on the album. It’s sung slow, like trying to move through mud, like a 45 being played on 33.
Electric Fungus is a winner, and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other Brain Police discs when we make it back to Iceland again. It looks like at least one of their releases, Beyond the Wasteland, came out on vinyl, which would be an added bonus if I can track it down. Brain Police. Electric Fungus. Check it out.