The Brakes Give Blood

[Rough Trade; 2005]

Styles: punk, alt-country
Others: British Sea Power, The Pixies, Johnny Cash

The Brakes are a British indie super-group of sorts. Featuring Eamon Hamilton of post-punk jangle pop purveyors British Sea Power alongside various members of Electric Soft Parade and Tenderfoot, their debut album veers far from the occasionally by-the-book indie sound of their various musical day jobs. Give Blood is the sound of a group of friends quickly producing, over a span of five days, a brisk collection of short songs doused with satirical scene commentary and even a dash of political mockery with the seven-second-long "Cheney": "Cheney, Cheney, Cheney, Stop being such a dick." It's a shambolic collection of punk nuggets that, while never far in depth, succeed with sheer enthusiasm, snotty Pixies-esque delivery, and simple-minded cheekiness. Album standout "All Night Disco Party" is a playful jibe at the DFA, while "Hi How Are You" is a 30-second thunderous dose of scenester baiting. Elsewhere the band reveal a love of country and folk with their cover of Johnny Cash's "Jackson," featuring a duet with the Duke Spirits, Leila Moss, and "Fell In Love With A Girl," a reportedly true story about European integration. Give Blood is not a benchmark album, nor could it ever be called a paradigm-shifting classic. It's a side-project. But it's a side-project that, for once, doesn't veer off into ego-stroking, masturbatory pretension. Instead, it's an über-catchy collection of short, diverse songs laden with a playfully channeled anger and wit that are hard to forget. Many bands would slash their wrists to produce a debut album as intelligently fun as this, and rightfully so.

1. Ring A Ding Ding
2. NY Pie
3. The Most Fun
4. Heard About Your Band
5. What's In It For Me
6. You'll Always Have a Place to Stay
7. Cheney
8. I Can't Stand To Stand Beside You
9. Pick Up The Phone
10. You're So Pretty
11. Jackson
12. All Night Disco Party
13. Hi How Are You
14. Comma Comma Comma Full Stop
15. Sometimes Always
16. Fell In Love With A Girl