Unbeknownst to many, but probably well known to fans of Brighton,
England's jangle-pop group British Sea Power and the town's
everpresent nu-gazers Electric Soft Parade, certain members
of both bands have been moonlighting in Brakes Brakes Brakes.
BSP's lead singer, keyboardist and guitarist Eamon Hamilton
and ESP's drummer Alex White and lead singer/guitarist
Tom White along with bass player Marc Beatty complete
The band's recent album The Beatific Vision is the sequel
to their debut record Give Blood. It has more country in
their rock 'n' roll and more 70's punk revival in their guitar
accents than were heard on their debut disc. This means that there
are moments when you will feel like you are listening to the punk
rock scuffles and stomps of The Ramones or The New York
Dolls and at other times it will sound like BBB are channeling
the rockabilly vamps of Marty Stuart or Norway's The
Raveonettes. BBB play all of these sides of the music spectrum
like they are assimilated, and for BBB, country is related to
punk which is related to rockabilly which is cidered in the heartland
sound of England.
At this moment you must be saying what an illiterate I must be
for relating England to rockabilly music but before American artists
honed in on that mix of rock, punk, and country, the UK had a
grip on it. Today, it has manifested into pub rock and BBB's album
is a collection of chanting pub rock tunes. They are typical songs
you will hear played in pubs like Weilland's in Dublin, Ireland
or at The Boardwalk in Sheffield, England. They are songs that
let loose and rip into whatever emotions need to be released,
with Hamilton's thick Irish brogue giving the songs a bucolic
Celtic flavoring that simulates what Americans relate to Americana
music. It's that bluegrass-tinged country lilt which isn't a form
that the Brits are known for, but it's a part of their heartland
Putting music history aside, the rock quartet Brakes Brakes Brakes
sound like old fashioned rock done up like The Ramones with spirited
jabs reminiscent of Jet and Chicago's Office with
wavelets of indie pop fluency relatable to Bouncing Souls.
BBB display Ramones-like spurs on "Margarita" with an
indicative retro rock flare. Tunes like "If I Should Die"
and "Cease And Desist" have a country twang in their
guitar flange similar to The Redwalls. The indie pop melody
"Beatific Visions" has retro rock borders as the jittering
piano keys build into a crescendo, which wane on the outro. The
lyrics have a jump blues-rock tempo which goes in time with the
music's syllables: "Here she comes with summer in her heels/
You can meet her at the station to escape for a day
her up, and feel yourself fall/ You feel so proud beside her/
You walk a little taller/ She's a beatific vision/ The world can
see/ She's got you tongue-tied/ Got your heart skipping beats/
I don't know what it is she's got, but it's got me x2." The
rhythm moves with a Buddy Holly-squiggle.
Then there is the outrageous riot punk styling of "Porcupine
Or Pineapple" which protrudes of retro rock cylinders that
recall The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag shown in
the jostling guitars, neurotic vocals, and taut rhythms belting
out similarly to The Riverboat Gamblers. Rockabilly attributes
emboss numbers like "Spring Chicken" and "Hold
Me In The River." Both are contagiously excitable and made
for a live setting.
Brakes Brakes Brakes also dip into the ballad side of their personalities
with the alternative country guitar chugging on "Mobile Communication"
and some enamored roadhouse-country vibes and vocal wailing for
"On Your Side." The soothing atmosphere of "Isabel"
is easy going with soft vocals and sparse bucolic guitar pizzicatos.
You have a sense that the members of BBB really enjoy playing
these songs as they conclude the album with the Celtic-kissed
ballad "No Return" which is reflective of The Corrs
exhibiting light feathering tambourines and cozy harmonics emanating
from the strings and rhythm section. The gentle flow of the melodic
phrases has a classic chassis resembling an endearing lullaby.
Brakes Brakes Brakes' recent release The Beatific Visions
has a variety of forms from retro rock to country. They string
it all together like everything belongs with each other. The band
moves from rockabilly, to punk revival, to bluegrass country without
changing anything about themselves. Now that's multi-dexterous.
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