The Braves

Love and Mercy

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All that's old is new again on Love and Mercy, the sophomore long-player from Rockford, Illinois-based the Braves. And that's a compliment. Fans of late-'80s college radio favorites like R.E.M. and the Smithereens will be instantly delighted by memorable, guitar-fused rockers like "Chicago Catholic" and the outstanding opener "Good Advices." Frontman Joseph Reina sounds like a young Robin Wilson, which makes sense, because the band often sounds like the Gin Blossoms in their Doug Hopkins-era. Whether channeling the indie muscle of Big Dipper on "Our Fathers," reliving the pensive beauty of early Toad the Wet Sprocket or giving the melodic nod to Winter Hours, this five-piece is about 18 years too late for the stardom they deserve.

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