Brakes - Give Blood

2006-03-30 03:42

Watch the "All Night Disco Party" video
Update: "All Night Disco Party" has been declared "anthem of the summer" by Italy's most popular radio station and become a huge hit in Australia, Spain, France and Malaysia. Lou Reed, Flea and Fonda 500 have all declared themselves "fans". Meanwhile, fans who actually turn up to gigs have been becoming "more and more rabid". The Brakes are working on "Album 2".

The Brakes' rickety tones, citified songs, underproduced and often very acoustic tunes are galaxies from fellow indie band British Sea Power's back to nature, supernatural sounds. But oddly, Eamon Hamilton, member of equally brilliant lablemates British Sea Power - is also the Brakes' vocalist. The band also features other indie stars, like Tom and Alex White from electric soft parade, and Marc from the Tenderfoot.

The Brakes, who recorded Give Blood in only seven days, represent an indie music trend of "back to the band", back to music, and back to basics.

They blend bits of country, anti-folk idealism, ironic camp and lashings of dirty sounding punk into 16 varied, ultra-short tracks (one, an anti Dick Cheney scream you can hear a full length clip of on this page, is 10 seconds long) and bounce through them in a total time of 28 minutes, without sounding pretentious.

Each inventive yet straightforward track strikes another blow against pretension. The song lyrics sound like they could have been culled from conversations and moments in an average day in the life. There's the bouncy, confusing and sleepy "Ring a ding ding". There's nostalgic thoughts of a lover long lost in "NY Pie" with its touching line about the girl, "Oh oh got me a pony", that so neatly evokes boyhood dreams first fulfilled then dashed. There's the memory of inspiration: "The most fun that I ever had / was the night the gypsies came to town / lit up these streets..."

But it's not all sweet. "Heard about your band" is a vicious backhander at someone who chewed his ear off at a party. On "You'll always have a place to stay" the singer drearily comforts a friend: "Why don't you come round Saturday / We'll go out drinking taking cocaine / try to forget / get high to forget". Vengeful regret gets teeth in a cover of Johnny Cash's classic "Jackson," and the heart rending "I fell in love with a girl".

Give Blood is no concept album, though it's definitely a window into a lifestyle. This band puts pleasure and impact first, while remaining surprisingly challenging and varied in their use of musical styles. It's hard to compare them too directly to any other bands. But for fans of early White Stripes and other bare bones reinventionists, The Brakes are essential listening.

- Jean Barker


Too often, satirical rock gets so caught up in the conceit it forgets to rock, but Hamilton and co. never forget the wisdom of Blues Traveler: "The hook brings you back." Now someone get this man a pony.
- Brian Howe for Pitchfork Media

"Lunacy has seldom sounded more exhilarating."
- Q Magazine

"Full of fraught, frivolous fun."

Some rock groups are just, for want of a better word, special. Brakes are one of those special bands - boyish, tuneful, stylishly rough around the edges. And with lots and lots of interesting edges.

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