Brakes, the "supergroup" from the Brighton, England scene, has finally released an album stateside for those of us who wish we were over there. Given that its members are also members of other reputable bands - British Sea Power, Electric Soft Parade, and Tenderfoot - this side project of sorts allows these men to try out sounds other than the jangly, softer sounds that their respective main acts trade in. It's refreshing when a side project sounds nothing like the members' main bands, and it's inspiring to know that each player's musical taste stretches wide. But the four personalities are pulling in too many different directions on Give Blood, hindering its flow.
Recorded live over five days, the album does convey the immediacy of the recording process, and the members seem comfortable and tight, considering that this is a side project for all of them. The record's highlight is "Jackson," on which Eamon Hamilton (of British Sea Power) duets with Leila Moss (of London's mighty Duke Spirit - check out Cuts Across the Land if you like dirty rock 'n' roll served up on a wall of noise). Originally performed by Johnny Cash and June Carter, "Jackson" is more of a recommendation for Miss Moss than the Brakes. She does not disappoint on holding up her end of the vocal bargain.
But the album is scattered and frenetic, moving at breakneck pop-punk speed before crashing into pseudo-country "redneck" chirruping. How do we get from the country-fried styling of "Ring a Ding Ding" to the cod-punk/funk of "All Night Disco Party" on the same record? Some bands can pull this off, but the lack of musical coherence here is jarring and irritating, particularly because it's the band's first. No matter what genre they're attempting, it all flashes by at lightning speed, so the album becomes a musical blur of guitar-based white noise with thin vocals. After the half-hour-long record's over, you're left wondering what just happened.
Brakes Web site: http://www.brakesbrakesbrakes.com/
Rough Trade America Web site: http://www.roughtradeamerica.com/