Styles: singer/songwriter, slow indie rock, modern folk pop
Others: Paul Weller, Elliot Smith, I Am Kloot, Travis, The Doves
gn="left" width="71" height="71">Ether Song
One of the strangest phenomena in the music world has to be when a band, who has been "hyped" a few years ago because of their debut record, releases a second one.
I’m talking about this phenomenon because I’m currently listening to Ether Song, the second release from a band that was once on the front pages of many music mags as The Next Big Thing of this new trend called the New Acoustic Movement. Which was a name that the press gave to guys who played calm guitar songs, and didn’t have a drummer. Even though many such bands actually did have a drummer. As usual with such "movements," it’s simply a name that the press gave so that they can put "Exclusive! New! Amazing!" on their cover.
That famous debut release was The Optimist Lp, a nice record from two nice chaps from the UK with a handful of calm guitar songs, sometimes even without a drummer (see! New! No drummer!). Many people bought the record, believing that they had something that would be equal to The Sex Pistols releasing God Save the Queen, not realizing that what they got was a record full of very normal but still beautiful guitar songs. And not the new movement in rock music. Realizing this, people started listening to The Optimist Lp a little bit more critically.
The problem with The Optimist Lp seemed to be that it was very nice to put on while doing the dishes, vacuuming the carpet or playing Doom (yeah, I know I’m a bit behind with some things), but didn’t do the job when put on headphones when you were stuck for something heavier. The Brakes seemed to be gone as fast as they came, and many people believed they would end up in the infamous ‘where-are-they-now’ folder.
But they didn’t.
Let’s get to the point: Ether Song isn’t a new direction for the Brakes. What you’re hearing is, in essence, the same as on The Optimist Lp: perfect sparkling guitar progressions, Olly Knights’ almost strangely normal voice and other instruments to combine it into one refreshing, smooth mix. However, they didn’t just copy The Optimist Lp. Ether Song is deeper, more surprising, and simply a better record than their previous effort without going very far away from the paths they laid out on their debut. For example: on the end of "Full of Stars" there is a strange reversed guitar solo but imbedded in the song in such a way that it doesn’t feel artificial or forced. It’s a very logical addition to the song. Just as with every "strange" thing on this record; it never feels like they’re trying to do something new, just because they should do something new.
The most important part about this record is that it shows that the Brakes aren’t a one-hit wonder; they have tried new things, but didn’t abandon the things that made the first album a hit just because it made the album a hit. If you like to hear something familiar with a hint of experimentation, I’m sure you will love this album while doing the dishes, vacuuming the carpet or playing Doom. And maybe even on the bus in your walkman.
1. Blue Hour
2. Average Man
3. Long Distance
4. Self Help
5. Falling Down
6. Stone Thrown
7. Clear Blue Air
8. Pain Killer
9. Full Of Stars
10. Panic Attack
11. Little Brother
12. Rain City