Touchdown fan review

Just give me some of that rock n roll music…

Touchdown starts off with Two Shocks, which includes some of the best lyrics since Thomas White’s Devil In A Trojan Horse…

All I grew was disillusioned and a little bit older
I soon discovered it was impossible to stand up without being attacked
So I covered my body in vaseline and learned how to slip through the gaps
I soon discovered it was impossible to stand up without being shot
So I covered my body in bacofoil and waited for the sun to come out

They said this is the first proper Brakes album and that it’s their most cohesive. On first hearing it, you know exactly what they mean. On adding the final touches, “putting the ‘fucking fairy dust’ over the new Brakes record” was mentioned. That’s one way of describing what’s special about this album.

I think it’s their best yet and already favourite tracks stand out to me especially Crystal Tunings, the song given away as a free download and titled Oh! Forever on the album. One of the catchiest songs on here – timeless musical beauty – it emits the feeling of pure joy; Brakes starting afresh with renewed energy. A song to instantly lift your spirits, sounding like it was created in a more carefree, happy time, when all you needed was a record player and a stack of vinyl; just you and the songs, in a world of your own, before you discovered harsh reality.

This upbeat mood shines elsewhere on the album, especially Crush On You; the abstract lyrics intrigue. Listening intently, you’re transfixed by the musical hypnotism.

Worry About It Later is the prettiest country folk with lyrics to captivate…

It’s easy to blame chaos on the ones with cloaks and daggers
Who push the hidden hands that hold the strings of ultimate control
When you ain’t got none

Red Rag is backed with a frantic drumbeat which punctuates the song, the guitar and vocals follow with a sense of urgency, shattering the beauty elsewhere. This track is a pure release of pent up energy, the lyrics unintelligable but at the same time just as vital as the noise they’re creating. Their Porcupine Or Pineapple moment and just what their fans love about them. The only thing I can liken the vocals to is Kurt Cobain at his most ferocious. Musically, there’s rather a touch of Thomas and Matt’s new band Clowns (myspace) A whole album of this stuff would be quite cathartic especially with drums like that!!

Eternal Return has a swinging backbeat, pure hillbilly, conjuring up images of Brakes sitting on hay bales, strumming guitars with a foot tappin tale of woe.

Every life that I’ve been through has been no good
Every breath I’ve ever breathed has been misunderstood

Do You Feel The Same? The icing on the cake is the guitar line, instantly recognisable from the Brothers White other major concern and puts a knowing sparkle in your eye. If Alex’s beats made the last 2 songs reviewed, Thomas adds a touch of magic here.

Ancient Mysteries is a story about the kind of people featured on certain daytime TV Shows, detailing the lives of various trailer trash (without typing out the lyrics is the easiest way to describe it) You somehow feel you’ve heard it all before (that’s because you have) and then the chorus comes in and brings beauty to the tale; a musical backdrop to their lives – you imagine this song playing on the radio as the story unfolds.

Why Tell The Truth (When It’s Easier To Lie) The chorus cuts in with a faster tempo, with a chord change stolen right out of The Beatles in Hamburg (is the only way I can describe it) And that’s a very good thing… Here’s the session version from BBC 6 Music (listen here)

Leaving England is another song with a country twinge and the sweetest chorus, with what sounds like Thomas on backing (he contributed to Oh! Forever on 6 Music – listen here) Probably because 2 vocals work so well together, I’d like to hear more vocal contributions on Brakes recordings (also at the end of this song is a hidden track)

Don’t Take Me To Space (Man) The lyrics are a heartfelt plea to another lifeforce; “I don’t care that this world’s corrupted, I don’t want to be abducted”. Though he’s already got the spacesuit just incase; here’s the evidence

Hey Hey is fast and furious; “the ship was sinking but it wasn’t yet sunk” (which is a good job because there are moments not to be missed on this album) Here’s the session version from BBC 6 Music (listen here)

Touchdown is more than enough until ESP’s return. You may miss those Brothers White vocals but the intensity is sure as hell still there. The most important thing is they’re enjoying themselves again. They know how lucky they are to be able to get their music out there; they’re not taking this for granted, they’re savouring every second. Brakes ceased to be an ESP side-project a long time ago, to me their music was always equally important.

ESP have hinted they may work with Paul Savage at Chem 19 studios in Glasgow for their next album; if this is the result he’s had with Brakes, you can imagine how they’ll benefit from his input. That’s an exciting thought to end on. When you listen to this album, you can only dream of the wonders they’re going to create… because this IS the best album Brakes ever did.

Brakes interviews

Interview by Paul Duffy – read in full at SoundsXP – here’s a few quotes from Thomas…

Possible songs they could do in future: “We’ll get Obama in there somehow man, even if it’s positive. It would be good to do a positive political song soon with our slant on it of course”

Credit crunch tips: “As a musician I guess it’s no good just carrying on as before. Alex has been busy working in advertising, to just keep going to release a new record. All of a sudden Brakes is ticking over again which is great, but as soon as you stop working again you see it all dry up. I end up falling into working on music for others which helps but it is difficult”

Brakes were also recently in The Argus and here’s some quotes from Thomas and Alex.

Thomas: “Right in the middle of the credit crunch we made a new record, signed a new deal. If you can still get work and scrape by you’re all right”

This latest record has seen Brakes take a little more time, spending three weeks recording with former Delgado drummer Paul Savage at his Glasgow studio Chem 19. Making the album they also formed a good alliance with their producer.

Alex: “We had a real symbiotic relationship with Paul. He was always up for driving us home, and in return we would cook him dinner”

Thomas: “Having a meal together round the table each day was a good break. It is the basis for a good family”

The experience was so good the Whites are considering using the studio again for the next Electric Soft Parade record.

Thomas: “It’s going to be a double album, but with only about 100 copies made”

Alex: “We’re calling it Blue Music. It should be out at the beginning of next year”

Until then the Electric Soft Parade is on hold for Brakes, with the brothers only planning to play one ESP show this year – for their uncle’s birthday.

Thomas: “We learned from putting the last Brakes and Electric Soft Parade albums out at the same time. We ended up promoting two records, because the releases overlapped. We were doing two shows a night in the US”

Thomas: “I think it might be the most cohesive (Brakes) album we’ve done. It doesn’t jump around – it sounds like the same band throughout whereas our other albums sound more like compilations”

Alex: “It’s the first proper Brakes album. People would say that the first album is the quintessential Brakes album because it’s the original sound, but to me a lot of the sounds are quite amateurish. It’s quite simple, silly frivolous stuff but played by good musicians, which gives it gravitas. With the second album we were trying to top the first one. This time I feel like we’ve morphed into something else. There are no songs on there that are a minute-long or silly. We had a couple but we took them off – they were there because ‘that’s what Brakes do’. We wanted to turn that on its head. In fact we decided to make the first track [Two Shocks] four minutes long, to change it up and to show we can do a serious album as much as any band. Not to slag the old stuff off, it’s just a different headspace”

Me: On hearing the album, my first thought was that it’s the best thing they’ve ever done. My second thought was, if this is what Brakes sound like under the guidance of Paul Savage, what on earth’s the new ESP album going to be like… third thought which only came to me whilst typing this – Paul also worked on the new Thomas White albums. We are in for some treats, that’s for sure. I’ll attempt an album review soon. Emotionally, I was reminded of the first time I got a Nirvana album; totally full of awe and wonder. That’s how music’s supposed to make you feel.

Here Comes The Sun…

I had already dared to wonder if there could be a track to rival Oh! Forever on the new Brakes album. There may well be…

From Two Shocks

All I grew was disillusioned and a little bit older
I soon discovered it was impossible to stand up without being attacked
So I covered my body in vaseline and learned how to slip through the gaps
I soon discovered it was impossible to stand up without being shot
So I covered my body in bacofoil and waited for the sun to come out

Oh! Forever

Following on from the previous post on Crystal Tunings – it has emerged this song has another title – Oh! Forever – and I prefer the session version to the one they painstakingly made perfect in the studio (this is a fan blog, I can) I don’t know if it’s the dual vocals but there’s something slightly Libertines about it, before Thomas kicks into a guitar line he probably memorised way back when Brothers White reviews namechecked Oasis (but were of course better) In actual fact, Brakes sound just like BRAKES and no-one else. And you never want them  to split up, no matter what’s thrown at them. They’re too good. I know the majority of ESP fans are probably thinking, just give me the new ESP album, I don’t care about this. Well, you should. I also hear echoes of the very early Beatles in the recent session tracks; shambolic, probably extremely merry but at the same time brilliant. They deserve a thousand fan blogs from the heart. I honestly have no idea what’s in the charts at the moment but they should be although this song isn’t a single (it should be) So, play this gorgeous little gem on repeat OH FOREVER What they said…

dalliance.co.uk – “Of the new offerings Crystal Tunings closes the set and is menacingly excellent”

thisisfakediy.co.uk – “before they go they play the beautiful ‘Oh! Forever’ which fills the Foundry with its epic swelling rock noise and the simple refrain of I know it’s you / I know it’s true / Oh! Forever”

cdtimes.co.uk – “listen closely, and you’ll hear the subtle intricacies of Tom White’s guitar lines which set Brakes apart from the traditional power-punk pack, much as Andy Summers put the Police into their own league in the post punk era”

Crystal Tunings quotes

Playing the Undertones songs I got for Xmas, I noticed some of their guitar lines are as brilliant as Brakes (and vice versa) and so here’s a post in their honour… Listen to a new song at myspace.com/brakesband I have the urge to go looking for Undertones stuff but should really concentrate on a band that’s just as good and still around. The Undertones Anthology has recordings taken from old C90 tapes (really) which brings back fond memories of tuning into the radio waiting for Brakes to have a session and listening back to the recording on repeat. So this post is for everyone who feels the same way as I do. Some quotes on the new song at their Myspace…

earz-mag.com – Enjoy some sweet, fuzzy, music, by Brakes. The song is called Crystal Tunings and is nicely winter-ish, reflecting the icy weather we’re getting in Scotland just now.

mp34u.muzic.com – “Crystal Tunings” starts off with a spacious baseline, adds an avalanche of guitars, and finally the sweet whisper of the vocals unifies the sound. All while moving in a graceful pace that plays out in a meditative journey perfect for sunsets or long sprawling road trips. Dude.

mp3hugger.comBrakes often craft songs of delicate beauty (‘You’re So Pretty’) so ‘Touchdown’ should really be a treat. And by the sound of the promo ‘Crystal Tunings’ the band have got deep down and dirty sounding like an agitated pair of Glaswegian brothers.

artrocker.com – If Crystal Tunings is representative of the album then it’s certain to be in the end of year favourites lists for 2009.

stopme.wordpress.comBrakes have just made a track from their forthcoming 2009 album available.  If it’s anything to go by, they’ve eschewed the quirky Country influenced Pop-Rock of previous records in favour of pursuing the Epic take on The Velvet Underground favoured by Jason Pierce.  ‘Crystal Tunings’ is Cathedral like in it’s scale, beauty and majesty.

guardian.co.uk – Not a supergroup but still pretty super, the Brighton quartet re-emerge with a glowing and understated grower. Let’s facetiously label it “fireside rock”.