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Brakes Brakes Brakes
The Beatific Visions
Rough Trade Records
www.brakesbrakesbrakes.com


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 BBB's lineup.

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 sound, too.

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…You lift 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.

-Susan Frances


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