A few years ago I had a band called The (Motherfucking) Browns recommended to me when I was looking for new Halloween music. Unlike virtually every other Horror Punk band The (Motherfucking) Browns don't sound like a Misfits clone, and actually boast such a strong Skater Punk vibe that one of their songs ended up on a Tony Hawk game. My partner enjoys Skater Punk, so I initially ordered The (Motherfucking) Browns' first album, cheekily named Greatest Hits Volume One, for her. I took a little interest in the record because almost every song was based on a horror movie, but I'll confess I wasn't that into it at first. All that changed when I got my partner the follow up album …And Now the Screaming Starts, which moved a bit closer to a traditional Horror Punk sound. I was instantly captivated by this record which had songs about horror classics like "Reanimator" and "They Live," as well as less heralded movies like "Black Roses." I've obsessively played …And Now the Screaming Starts since getting it a few years ago, but because it was released 10 years ago I didn't hold out much hope for a follow up full length. Imagine how thrilled my wife was when we found out The (Motherfucking) Browns were returning this November with an album called, appropriately enough, The Return of…,and that meant a whole new round of me explaining to her in great detail what each song was inspired by. No, don't imagine, I can tell you. Ecstatic. She was ecstatic.
|Band members: Charlie, Hash, Johnny Mack, Andrew
|1. Let's Scare Jessica to Death
2. Graduation Day
5. What Have You Done to Solange?
6. From Beyond
7. The Landlord's Daughter
8. I Wonder Who's Killing Her Now?
9. Mary Lou
10. (Return to) Return to Horror High
11. My Bloody Valentine
13. One Thousand Cries Has the Night
I was equally ecstatic, revved up by a gorgeous E.C. Comics-esque album cover and a track listing that made my head spin faster than a tween in a tacky Italian Exorcist clone. The Return of… begins with a funny play on the opening of Greatest Hits Volume One, before launching into "Let's Scare Jessica to Death," a track that finds The (Motherfucking) Browns incorporating some cock-rock swagger to their sound. From there the band slams into "Graduation Day," a frenzied song with a driving hook. It's also the album's leading single, currently available for streaming at their Bandcamp page.
When I first found out about The Return of…, it was song four's title that had me bounding around the house like a giant bunny escaped from Night of the Lepus. "Anthropophagus" is based on the only film I consider a guilty pleasure, and it's got its own floppy-eared connection. I didn't catch any references in the song to Serena's gory rabbit test, but the track is ferocious. A raging tune featuring humorous lyrics that reposition George Eastman as a hipster, its only flaw is that at little over a minute it's over way too quickly.
I was super excited for "Anthropophagus," but the album's standout came a few tracks later. Since the last album had "Reanimator" on it, it only makes sense that The Return of… has a song about the follow up "From Beyond." I'm not sure if The (Motherfucking) Browns are following Stuart Gordon or Jeffrey Combs with this series of songs, but I guess we'll know when the next album has a song about either Dolls or Cyclone. Whichever career is being followed, "From Beyond" is a great song built around a positively infectious collection of "Woah-oh"s. It's one of The (Motherfucking) Browns best songs ever, and it's a fantastic way to end the first side of the album.
That's right, all that goodness was just the first side of the record; flipping it over will result in even more awesomeness!
Side two kicks off with a ditty that fans of The Wicker Man are sure to love, then works its way through odes to I Wonder Who's Killing Her Now?, Prom Night II, and George Clooney's big break. "(Return to) Return to Horror High" is a new recording of a song from The (Motherfucking) Browns' first EP, but back on the initial release it was just called "Return to Horror High." The song namechecks George, of course, and is a raging punk number that just happens to be about a ridiculous 80s slasher comedy. Another re-recording, "My Bloody Valentine," brings the Skater Punk influences to the fore, and it's a tune sure to be a hit in Tasmania where the dangers of mining are always present. The album concludes with the Pieces inspired One Thousand Cries Has the Night, yet another catchy Horror Punk slice of fried gold. The track also highlights another area where The (Motherfucking) Browns stand out from other Horror Punk acts. Whereas most of these bands have taken on more of the cartoony fun of the Newfits, The (Motherfucking) Browns manage to keep a sense of humour but retain some genuine menace.
Vocalist Charlie Brown also hosts a Podcast called Podcastmania, and in an episode where they discussed The Pit Charlie played a track it inspired called "Do You Like Washing Me?" It didn't make the album because The (Motherfucking) Browns LPs always have 13 songs on them, but I actually like this song better than a few that made it on The Return of. Charlie also said the band would probably do a single with the other songs recorded, so I guess it makes sense to keep a strong track for the A-side, but people that like the band should definitely give the song a listen, and the Podcast series is a good time, too.
With their balaclavas Australians might be forgiven for mistaking The (Motherfucking) Browns as Canada's answer to TISM, but aside from sharing some of the same punk influences The(Mothefucking) Browns are a different beast entirely. The Return of…is teeming with punk attitude, packed with off-kilter gags, and brimming with hummable melodies. The album starts strong and then just keeps delivering hit after hit like it was some sort of greatest hits volume. Here's hoping we don't have to wait such a long time between drinks next time, because the world needs more records from this Skater/Horror Punk hybrid.