Turin Brakes On Unknown Sundays 2024


Turin Brakes. I said, Turin Brakes. I didn’t know what I was saying at that time. I had no idea what it meant, but I just remember staring at their name on one of the download sites (AudioGalaxy maybe), they were one of the first bands I downloaded an album of, and it was the album, Ether Song, wondering what kind of music causes a band to name themselves this way? Sure it’s unique. Sure it caught my eye, as I thought maybe they were a garage band and that name was Turnin’ Brakes (shows you how much I know about car repair — I don’t think you turn brakes).

Surprise. They’re not really a garage band. Also, the original band started as a duo, which isn’t really/wasn’t really that common place back in the early 2000s (especially one bringing that much sound in an acoustic fashion). However, the sound they produced, kind of was representative of the times in soft-rock, adult contemporary with a Radiohead like vocal attachment with a more stripped accompaniment. That adult style that had enough edge for it to break into two areas of sound; alternative and radio friendly. A great combination, for sure. Just think of early Coldplay and you’re definitely in the right studio and just maybe not the largest arena (if you know what I mean). Some bands blow-up big, and some carry on to their fans, music appreciators, and they gain a little more connection each and every year together. And, they’re comfortable with that — we assume, considering Turin Brakes is still around today, making similar strides and still keeping their formula but challenging it with the life-experiences of their music multiverse.

After a hiatus of exploration for both members (one to film school the other trying to make a band in Canada) they would reconnect and start gaining some local notoriety for their acoustic and vocal position, allowing them a chance to do an EP, The Door (released by Anvil Records, which I believe still remains heavily independent in signing bands to this day), which got them on the radar of more prominent record labels.  Independent recording artists were starting to get attention in this era, kind of like when the singer-songwriters started to emerge in the 60s from the back of the house to front and center stage.  So, it was cool timing, and they certainly had a sound that could reach further than most independent bands. So, here comes The Optimist LP in 2001, which took from the EP a couple of tracks, but showcased more of their capabilities. It was actually nominated for the Mercury Prize that year (under the Source label). While it was a simple album in construct with acoustic guitar and rhythm, it had such wonderful clear, slightly unique vocal delivery and tight, relatable lyrics that it became easily engaging.

Enter now, my download experience, Ether Song, the follow up record 2003. This record moves exactly where the title states, into the ether and with more accompaniment of electric instrumentalism as well as wonderfully tight and all-encompassing production, reaching close beyond catchy adult contemporary into carefully developed songs, structure and into a wider base of listeners. Again, another strong move on their part. But, only in the UK did they chart (but at #4 that’s a very big deal). However, circle ahead a bit, to an extremely popular show called, The O.C. The musical directors put ‘Rain City’ on during a pivotal scene–and then you get a huge spark as a band (Episode 3: The Gamble, in case you were wondering). So a boost outside the UK!  When the third album comes, JackInABox, they’re completely comfortable (they have their own studio) in their band’s skin, reaching for other sounds, influences, and even explore an ambient hidden track that runs over 10 minutes, which I can say was something that I was not expecting but did enjoy. Apparently, there are a lot of bonus tracks that were released during this rather fated album in UK and even a Japanese version that has more tracks, but I’ve not been able to explore. This album had less electronic, more acoustic and rawer side, too, which caught me off guard and kind of started my departure for a couple of years (but going back to it now, there’s a lot of beauty and technique and delivery that is absolutely wonderful). This was the New Acoustic Movement (and at the time, I really didn’t know that there was a movement, so it fell on my addicted to purchasing and new sounds deaf ears). But, the title track, certainly gives a good explanation of their particular movements, if you will.

You ever been to Piedmont, Northern Italy? Turin is the capital. I’ve never been. I would assume at this point that band has had the opportunity to tour the name sake of their band’s first name, but the Brakes part is a place of fiction, according to the band. So, they made up a fake place called Turin Brakes, as it sounds like an interesting place, and in hindsight, nine studio albums, an equal number of extended play EP or albums some of covers and some for Napster or Spotify, and a Late Night Tales Album (which not just every band gets to have made of them), the band is just what their namesake intended. A fictitious place with a sound that is all their own, their own township, their own place, which they choose to share, unabashedly with the music multiverse as the mayors, governors and presidents.

While their sound still emulates from the New Acoustic Movement, the band and the music is wrapped wonderfully in all kinds of other sounds from ambient, to soul-electronica, to sonic surf, to seventies harmonies, but always back to that connected easily understood vocal by Olly. They are comfortable sound that you can rely on — safe (yeah) but a super good, cool, and relatively “Unknown” kind for a wonderful exploratory moment, if you’ve never heard of them before.

Albums by Turin Brakes In My Collection (are noted in bold):

  • The Optimist LP (2001)
  • Ether Song (2003)
  • JackInABox (2005)
  • Dark on Fire (2007)
  • Outbursts (2010)
  • We Were Here (2013)
  • Lost Property (2016)
  • Invisible Storm (2018)
  • Wide-Eyed Nowhere (2022)
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