Brakes' debut album, Give Blood, was recorded in just five days. That alone matches the band's country-punk-flavored quickness in sound. British Sea Power's Eamon Hamilton and select members from Tenderfoot and Electric Soft Parade race through 16 songs in just under 30 minutes, and the swiftness highlights an ambitious effort tailored for the new millennium's indie rock canon. This album is loose and simple in structure, but it's also humorous and smart in presentation. Brakes pretty much spoof celebrities and the music industry right from the start: the jangly rock number "Heard About Your Band" mentions "sharing a cab with Karen O," meeting Electrelane, and inquiring if you know "the girl from Sleater-Kinney." Hamilton's gritty vocals are somewhat annoyed, but nervy. Other brash rock snippets such as "Cheney" (yes, it's about Dick Cheney), "Pick Up the Phone," and "Hi How Are You" showcase Brakes' hyperactive side. Such sarcasm marks Give Blood as somewhat rebellious, but not in a ridiculous kind of way. The more lengthy songs like the Roxy Music-esque "Ring a Ding Ding," the droning melodic edginess of "I Can't Stand to Stand Beside You," and album's standout "All Night Disco Party" are just as snarky, but stylishly and playfully so. Brakes' choice in covers, too, adds to the cohesiveness of Give Blood. The band's rendition of the Jesus and Mary Chain classic "Sometimes Always" features charming harmonies from the Pipettes, making it as honest and sweet as the original. Even the band's version of the Johnny Cash tune "Jackson," which includes guest vocals by the Duke Spirit's Liela Moss, mixes punk aesthetic and poetic flair. Give Blood thrives on the notion that Brakes want to shimmy and shake and tear things apart. This hasn't been seen since Sebadoh.
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AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson
feat: Matt Eaton
feat: Liela Moss