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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Brakes
Give Blood
Rough Trade Records

Rating: 6.5/10 ?


September 29, 2005
Brakes belong to this week's fastest-growing genre of indie rock: possibly ironic, quasi-British dance rock. Maximo Park, Clor, Art Brut and Franz Ferdinand (I said quasi-British) straddle the fine line between bonehead party animalism and cooler-than-the-cool snobbery. If you asked any of these bands about their M.O., you would get any responses ranging from "We just wanna have fun" to "Rock 'n' roll!"

And yet, the songs at times criticize "the scene" to which they obviously belong. The new Franz single, "Do You Want To," pokes fun at inane chatter overheard by Kapranos at hipster parties; it's a great concept for a song, but I have to question its message knowing that the hipster doofuses being mocked constitute a healthy portion of the band's following.

The lads of Brakes pull the same stunts on their debut Give Blood, and I hate to say, it kinda works. In a mere 28 minutes, the album takes several quick jabs at the scene before you even realize what hit you. The interlude "Hi How Are You" is a skit about the small talk that goes on between sets at a show, ending when singer Eamon Hamilton snaps, "Won't you shut the fuck up I'm just trying to watch the band!" With these 38 seconds, Brakes succeed at criticizing phony elitists… and it's funny because it's true.

The best track on Give Blood, "I Heard About Your Band," places the same theme in a slightly longer, more danceable setting. Hamilton muses on name-dropping phonies with lines like "You shared a cab with Karen O" and "You know the girl from Sleater-Kinney" before dropping the subject with the unarguable "Whatever, dude." It's funny, catchy and at 1:30, unassuming.

Give Blood falters when it strays from this wit and concision, divulging in misplaced country stomps ("NY Pie," "Jackson") and lethargic sincerity ("You'll Always Have A Place To Stay," "Fell In Love With A Girl"). Brakes are best-suited to play songs with their tongues sticking out, as they are on simple rockers like "What's In It For Me" and "Ring A Ding Ding." On such a short album, there is no room to explore sentiments other than na-na-na-boo-boo.

This style of mock-rock doesn't have a long shelf life, as the songs cease to be funny and hipsters will inevitably find a new way to offhandedly make fun of/glorify themselves. Tracks like "You're So Pretty" (which is much grander than the title implies) and "Sometimes Always" show a side of Brakes that might be able to survive when trends change: a side that can write a decent, mid-tempo indie rock song not unlike Hamilton's other band, British Sea Power. I'd like to see Brakes grow up a bit and leave the schoolboy antics behind, but I was always a wuss when it came to being teased.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown

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