Critics' Picks


While Brainiac, which released several records on Touch and Go Records, never inked a deal with a major record label (DreamWorks was reportedly interested during the band's final days), it was one of several great bands to emerge from Dayton in the early '90s, alongside Guided by Voices and the Breeders. Characterized by analog keyboards and singer Tim Taylor's hiccuping vocals, the group made quirky new-wave riffs hip. Its career came to an untimely end when Taylor died in a car accident three years ago."I started making music immediately after that, because I didn't know what else to do with myself," Enon singer-guitarist John Schmersal says when asked how he reacted to Taylor's death. "I was just trying to keep busy. I had a four-track recording that pretty much became a record [called Forget Everything]. I didn't understand [why Taylor died], and also I got into a fight with him shortly before that happened, and we resolved it, sort of, but not really. So when he died, it kind of fucked me up, and it took me awhile to realize that our fight didn't matter."

Schmersal recorded Forget Everything in an old Masonic Temple in Kentucky under the moniker John Stuart Mill, but for his new group, Enon, he recruited percussionist Rick Lee and drummer Steve Callhoon of Skeleton Key to play with him. The trio wrote several songs and went on tour before recording its debut, Believo!, which was released earlier this year. Believo! might sound more accessible than most of Brainiac's musical output, but it's still strange and unusual music that relies on electronic samples and unpredictable changes in tempo.

"What was cool about [Believo!] was that we spent more time with it," Schmersal says. "Once we had the foundation of the tracks, we got to play with it and sit on it a little bit, which I never got to do before. I think it benefited from the fact that the tracks were put together spontaneously but composed after that. Some people have said that, in relationship to Brainiac, it's too 'pop' or forgiving, but people who don't have that context think it's really weird. I think it's the most pop thing I could have written. It was a fun record to make."

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Jeff Niesel