What kind of funny are Brakes?

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, February 6th, 2009

Slow Club and Brakes The Fuzz Club at University Union, Sheffield

"The Killers also have a single out called Spaceman, but" says the silver suit clad short singer of Brakes Eamon Hamilton "erm, I like ours better."

Brakes are a funny band. The question is what sort of funny are they?

Certainly they are not the funny which Slow Club represent. The aspiring Sheffield based duo are a curious mix of Noah and the Whale style pop/folk and a bluesy edge that sounds straight out of a Dad's record collection. They are good too - bordering on very good - and Because We're Dead has a delicious edge to it with boy/girl vocals pushing around the stage playfully.

One is left with the feeling that Slow Club might end up making an album that is all last tracks from White Stripes records - It's True That We Love One Another/I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)/Effect And Cause and wondering if that would be brilliantly amusing or eventually annoying. Or both.

Brakes take to the stage with determination the three instrument men kicking into a new tune before the dominative Hamilton leaps to the middle of the stage rid of the pale, casual jumper he watched the support band wearing and in what can only be described as a shiny silver spacesuit. As he sings he closes his eyes and smiles nervously forward, not embarrassed so much as spiked by the moment and afraid that should he look out to the audience he would gaze on faces who simply did not get the joke.

Eamon Hamilton of Brakes on stage in Sheffield Students Union

Hamilton's songs breakdown in two ways. He has a good line in honest love songs - No Return being his best but is sadly missing from the set tonight - and he has a brand spiky politically aware songs the apotheosis of which is the eight second burst of Cheney which is modified with the happy word "Goodbye" appended. The former is standard fair - highly enjoyable fair, but standard - while the latter is rare in indie music which tonight we are defining as being what is played to the kids at Sheffield University Union.

The opening gives way to familiar ground - this gig is a warm up for the tour to support new album Touchdown but only a handful of 2009's tracks are played - so we are quickly into familiar ground with Margarita and The Most Fun. A lively group of lads begin to mosh during Spring Chicken and get jumpy in Cease And Desist and Porcupine Or Pineapple where Brakes are at their most curious, their funniest.

The set ups - God and the Devil playing cards, a war between spined creatures and fruit - are comical but the points made are more political, more interesting. Hamilton's presentation of his ideals as the comical is the musical equivalent of political cartooning seducing one into attention and to his message with a cheeky smile and an amusing bit of imagery. In that way Brakes live - with the built up sound that enables them to do All Night Disco Party lose something in the telling compared to Hamilton's solo shows that draw his cartoons in more sketched black and white than full colour.

However they make up for that with some fine thrashing on the guitar with On Your Side sounding grand and newbie Eternal Return booming brilliantly. Of the new offerings Crystal Tunings closes the set and is menacingly excellent while Hey Hey has an ebullient joy about it that guitarist Tom White revels in. Spaceman - or Don't Take me to Space (Man) to give a fuller name - saddles the two sides of Brakes better than any other song they have telling a story of alien abduction, seemingly friendly, but rejected cause despite all the corruption of the world Hamilton sees he has found a girl to hold hands with.

The guitarist makes a comment about Lloyds TSB being shaping shifting lizards and that David Icke was right after which Hamilton correction to White's laugher "There are a couple of holes in his arguments..."

Brakes are that kind of funny.

Written By Michael Wood Friday, February 6th, 2009

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One Response to “What kind of funny are Brakes?”

  1. Ria Wood Says:

    Well it was an interesting gig. I was looking forward to watching Slow Club after hearing them occasionally on 6Music, etc. I really enjoyed their twosomeness. They also reminded me of The White Stripes but were sufficiently less po-faced (although, I’ve never seen TWS live so maybe they show their enjoyment more then). Also they have a similar set up of percussion girl and guitar lad. I enjoyed watching the two of them bounce off each other musically. It’s made me think that perhaps twosomes are my favourite musical combination. My First Tooth are another example. I like the few tracks we downloaded and I’d definitely be interested in their album as their lyrics are quite smart too. Once again at university gigs, I thought the crowd were unresponsive and that Slow Club deserved more from them. Happily at least they were joined on stage by some comrades for the final song, Let’s Fall Back In Love. I think that some of them must have helped record the tracks we’ve downloaded as they sound fuller and richer than the 2 piece can produce on stage. In summary, yes, two on stage is definitely company.

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