Turin Brakes

TrackAlbum / EP
Mind Over MoneyFight Or Flight
Underdog (Save Me)The Optimist LP
Long DistanceEther Song
Red MoonJackInABox
TimewasterDark On Fire
LoopaSomething Out Of Nothing
Love Is All You DeserveBottled At Source
Sea ChangeOutbursts
SleeperWe Were Here
Brighter Than The DarkLost Property

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Turin Brakes photo

Gale Paridjanian and Olly Knights of Turin Brakes

 

Contributor: Nicola Tyzack

Turin Brakes are something of a strange beast. Appearing at the start of the noughties after we had experienced Britpop and dance music, their gentle acoustic stylings were something of a breath of fresh air. Labelled as part of the so called ‘new acoustic movement’, I have a feeling that this type of music was going elsewhere, but it just wasn’t widely ‘out there’ so to speak. Until we heard Turin Brakes. And we liked it. In fact, we liked it so much that they were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2001.

My love for them didn’t start at the beginning though. I was slightly later to the party, arriving somewhere in between their debut, The Optimist LP, and their follow up, Ether Song. But to be fair, despite turning up a bit late, I’ve been with them ever since. And what an interesting 14 or so years it’s been.

Mind Over Money was released on the Fight Or Flight EP back in 2000. It’s a song that still sounds as remarkable now as it did back then and really kick-started their very distinctive sound out into the world. And that sound is made up of the heartbreaking and haunting vocals of Olly Knights alongside the phenomenal guitar work of Gale Paridjanian. As performers, I don’t think I have come across many that have honed their art over the years and can go out and perform live and sound just as perfect as they do in the studio. These guys, along with constant companions Rob Allum and Eddie Myer, have something very special indeed.

The Optimist LP seemed to be just what the music consuming public wanted in 2001 and it would be the first in the series of seven studio albums over the course of their ongoing career. Each album has a slightly different sound than the previous, but the key focal points are always there in each and every one. The track Underdog (Save Me) is quite possibly their best known from their very early work and I can honestly say I never tire of hearing it; either on an album or played live with some added stylings, it’s simply a piece of perfection.

When Ether Song was released in 2003 it was an exciting time for me as I was there from the actual release and couldn’t wait to hear new material. I wasn’t disappointed. This one has actually remained my favourite Turin Brakes album ever since, due to its meaning for me personally. It’s a very important album in my life as it represents a certain time period that I can relate it back to so many years later. I could have picked pretty much any of the tracks from this album to include but Long Distance is the one that I always attempt to sing at the top of my voice, and fail miserably. Olly has the voice of an angel, whereas I unfortunately do not. But the enjoyment for me isn’t about sounding as good as my hero, it’s about the breathing out and this song really lets me do just that.

Album three was the upbeat JackInABoxbox which had some success with a few singles including the beautiful Fishing For A Dream. I didn’t pick that one but went for the track that should have been a single, but wasn’t a single, Red Moon; an upbeat number that just sounds great each and every time I listen to it. The whole album has a different feel to it of positivity and I think that it’s often neglected as a piece of work which is something of a shame.

It seems to me that after JackInABoxbox people appeared to forget about Turin Brakes. Not the fanbase of course, but the music consumers out there didn’t stick with them. Why, I don’t know, but my own feeling is that when album four joined us they picked the wrong lead singles to support it. Radio play can make or break bands, especially back then before the rise of social media, and I don’t think they were led to pick their best work. As an avid fan, when I listen to the album Dark On Fire, it’s tracks like Timewaster that stand out and hit me, not the album title track. That’s not to say the album is not a beautiful piece of work. It totally is, but I just don’t think a deep and meaningful song is the thing to release into a fast and furious market where listeners want an instant connection.

The album was released as a special edition with an extra EP called Something Out Of Nothing. It’s a five track EP which contains the song Loopa. Now, that should have been a single. It’s a wonderful number and it pains me that it’s hidden away on an EP which many people will never get to hear. It possibly didn’t fit with the main album but, nonetheless, it’s a wonderful example of what this band can do. When I recommended Dark On Fire to people I always tell them to get this version as otherwise they’d be missing out.

The Bottled At Source album is a collection of B-sides, demos and rarities from the years that the band were at Source records and, when I first listened to it, the track Love Is All You Deserve stood out as a simple, but beautiful, example of a love song. Olly’s vocals are on point and the simplicity of the guitar works so well that it’s a bit like letting out a sigh and relaxing.

While the record buying public may have tuned out from listening to Turin Brakes, the band continued onwards and released the album Outbursts in 2010. Something of a light and dreamy affair, it contains real pieces of beauty within it. Sea Change is a foot tapping number which builds and builds until a mass of strings and drums hold you captive until the very end. If you are not moved by the pleading nature of this song, then I’m not sure what else will.

A new dawn for Turin Brakes would arrive in 2013 when We Were Here was added to the catalogue. With a more laid back approach you can sense that they are doing and feeling just as they want to. There’s no requirement there to try and be anything other than Turin Brakes. And it works rather brilliantly. I chose the song Sleeper as it has a wonderful raw guitar and I can feel Gale loving every minute of playing it. The four piece had become a tight unit and along with producer Ali Staton this album seems to represent a new era for the band.

It would be 2016, though, when suddenly everyone wanted to know who Turin Brakes were and where they had been all this time. The release of Lost Property this year has propelled them back to the status of The Optimist LP and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of that fading at the moment. With several singles from the album being radio listed and masses of new fans deciding that this is the band to listen to, it seems that they have come full circle.

I must admit I struggled with this album on its release as I worried that the band were becoming what they thought everyone else wanted them to be. I found this quite hard as my love for them is formed from a place where they are what they want to be without caring about how they are received. But after I stopped listening with my brain and trying to understand and decipher what each and every single detail of the album meant, I decided to try listening with my heart instead and just feeling it. And happily it worked. They told me that they made an album based on what they wanted it to be and I finally heard it. The track Brighter Than The Dark is a perfect example of how their ‘sound’ has moved on from their beginnings. The Americana feel, the strings, the vocals, the songwriting – it all fits together perfectly and the end result is simply breathtaking. As is the rest of the album.

It’s very pleasing for me to see a band that I love so much, and who have been with me for a large proportion of my adult life, is back in the hearts and minds of the music buying public today. That’s why I describe them as something of a strange beast. They never particularly faltered at any point and yet, it’s taken the latest album to cement them back into the charts and showcase just how talented they are. I can honestly say Olly has one of, if not the best voice I have ever heard and I don’t think I could ever be without it in my life now. Gale just gets better and better as he progresses onwards, and Rob and Eddie are individually brilliant and integral cogs in the TB machine.

I deliberately decided not to include Painkiller (Summer Rain) as one of the ten tracks for a very good reason. They are much more than just that one song. It may well be the song they are best known for and it is without a doubt a wonderful song, but what I want people to do is look past that and discover the other, many pieces of brilliance that they have produced. And there’s so much of it to listen to that I think this top ten is just the starting place for an amazing journey.

 

 

Turin Brakes official website

Ether Site: extensive Turin Brakes information

Turin Brakes interview for The Independent (2016)

Turin Brakes biography (iTunes)

After writing for other sites for a while, Nicola decided to give it a go on her own and now runs Sounds Familiar sharing articles, interviews and reviews on the music she loves. You can follow Nicola on twitter @call_me_cynical and @soundsfamiliarb

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