It’s not quite accurate to say Crazy & the Brains makes Punk the old fashioned way.
Although they play fast, hard, loose and loud, they also utilize a razor sharp and sugar sweet sense of Pop classicism, swooping Doo Wop harmonies and a xylophone they, uh, liberated from a source that may or may not know that it’s actually missing. Any band nervy enough to christen themselves Crazy & the Brains automatically gets a pass on anything resembling the rules.
One spin through “Oh Oh I Lover Her So,” Crazy & the Brains’ contribution to their 2012 split 7-inch with fellow New Jersey natives The Disconnects, will tell the tale nicely.
A straight up ’60s story of love at Burger King and Coney Island (by the soda machine and on a roller coaster, no less), Crazy & the Brains shiver and swing through the track like Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers channeling Bruce Springsteen on a cover of an obscure B-side from Freddie and the Dreamers mashed up with “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.”
Crazy & the Brains began in the wilds of the Garden State when Chris Urban and Jeff Rubin were left in the lurch by the sudden departure of their bandmates, forcing them to find a new mode of expression with just Urban’s guitar and Rubin’s borrowed xylophone.
Their unexpected presentation became an even more unexpected sensation through a string of EPs (and even cassettes via their label Baldy Longhair), but they fleshed out their ranks to a slightly more conventional structure with the addition of bassist Brett Miller and brother/drummer Lawrence Miller.
The expanded quartet produced Crazy & the Brains’ 2013 album Let Me Go, which was quickly followed by last year’s equally bracing Good Lord EP, featuring the infectious “Ice Cream.”
If you like your stripped down Punk with a slightly lysergic sugar-cube chaser, Crazy & the Brains might be your cup of delightfully demented tea. They make the Ramones seem like cerebral Prog by comparison.
CRAZY & THE BRAINS plays at MOTR Pub Friday, Jan. 20. Find tickets/more info here .