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on 17 March 2016
Good introduction to the band for me.as it was the first album purchased. Arrived very quickly & would recommend
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on 4 March 2003
On first listening, Ether Song doesn’t start out as promisingly as their previous offering, The Optimist but it’s one of those CDs that will just grow on you. I had previously fallen in love with the liquid sound of Turin Brakes when I heard Future Boy from their first CD and once I’d bought the album, I realised I’d found myself a fantastic band and with it, a fantastic CD in The Optimist. But this is a review of Ether Song and again, I was really excited by the release of the new album to see if they could build on what they’d offered previously. Well, I’m pleased to say they have although, be aware, they’ve gone in slightly a different direction with this album, so if you’re a fan of bands changing between albums then stick with the Turin Brakes cos they’ll certainly surprise you with this.
If you want a taste of the Turin Brakes ‘of old’ then Pain Killer and Stone Thrown will certainly take you back, but other tracks to watch out for are the beautiful Average Man, so smooth it’ll make you wish you weren’t doing anything but laying back and listening to it. Others to mention are, Full of Stars, so hauntingly tuneful, and Panic Attack, which is so refreshingly different. My only complaint would be that the first part of the album up to track 6 is a bit samey, you could in fact be listening to the same song. But, for anyone wanting a good chill out CD or just background music for the soundtrack of a modern, contemporary lifestyle, then this album’s for you.
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VINE VOICEon 27 February 2003
Turin Brakes' last album, The Optimist LP, was something of an unexpected success for a twosome who do little publicity, don't have Hollywood girlfriends and haven't sold their music to advertisers. Many of the reviews struggled to pinpoint exactly what the extraordinary USP was of a guitar band writing poignant, lyrical melodies - hardly groundbreaking stuff, after all, and not a million miles from Travis, Coldplay et al. But somehow their particular brand of sweping emotionalism, folksy vocal harmonies and original songwriting added up to more than the sum of its parts, and The Optimist LP quite rightly collected accolades left, right and centre.
So now comes the 'difficult' second album, and for fans of Turin Brakes' first it may be a little disappointing. The layered, sweeping, studio-produced heartstring-tugging melodies are more or less absent, save from Long Distance (released as a single for that very reason), making way for a less polished, sparser sound on many of the tracks, some of which are positively cheery (think Flowers in the Window as opposed to Writing to Reach You). And indeed the boys say that's the sound they were going for, recording many of the tracks in only a couple of takes.
There's less of the Thom-York-esque cracked heartbreak and a little more of the slightly bizarre lyrics (singing 'now there's a river!' to yourself at top volume in the car can feel a little odd, however wildly emotional the track feels).
Ether Song is by no means a major disappointment, and shows the band exploring new sounds and moving forward. But it may be that in trying not to become bogged down in the same old sound, as Travis have, they have lost sight of the moving, emotional honesty that made their first album so extraordinary.
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on 10 March 2003
If the right tracks get chosen as singles, this could do for Turin Brakes what The Man Who did for Travis. A week after release, it’s already sounding like an album of the year contender, a record that will reach far beyond fans of The Optimist LP and achieve nationwide ubiquity.
They have pulled off the difficult trick – make a record that sounds larger and more confident than the debut, without sacrificing the intimacy or the tunes to inflated ambition. Ether Song is a long succession of highlights, one you can just play from beginning to end and where each track goes perfectly with the next, but Stone Thrown, Made of Stars, Rain City, and the hidden title track are high water marks of the achievement here. Lyrically, vocally, and melodically addictive, this album is going to be around for a long time.
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on 7 March 2003
Following the critical and commercial success of their debut, Turin Brakes were always going to have the ‘difficult second album’ cliché to struggle against. Whilst this is not a massive disappointment, it doesn’t deliver their full potential. They haven’t managed to do a ‘Coldplay’ here by truly eclipsing their earlier work, but they too have the imagination and talent to progress, where lesser bands would meerly deliver that tried-and-tested formula. They’re taking risks and moving on from that safe ground, not everything is bound to work.
‘The Optimist’ was produced when the pressure was off, as they’ve said in their own words, when they were writing music they liked, and merely hoped that a modest number of others might enjoy too. It succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, smashing their modest sales projects and garnering a host of critical nods.
If there’s a fault then with ‘Ether Song’, it’s that in getting themselves a producer and decamping to LA for a while, the album occasionally suffers from audible over-production. Their sound has grown less subtle, evolving into a something more confident than before. Sometimes it works well, as they deliver lines and chords dripping with emotive power, sometimes it just sounds like, well, they’re trying too hard with this brash new attitude.
‘Painkiller’ is the undoubted highlight, and one of the best things they’ve done. It can confidently be held alongside gems like ‘The Road’ from their first album. ‘Falling Down’ and ‘Self Help’ show how they’ve evolved, maintaining that great ear for melody whilst working in some delicate electronic rhythms against their own endearing strumming. On ‘Long Distance’ and ‘Little Brother’ they go further than ‘Mind Over Money’ ever did, bordering on forging what could be termed a brand-new ‘thrash-accoustica’ sub-genre as they deliver with real gusto, managing to tread just the right side of pretentiousness.
‘Ether Song’ will hopefully establish Olly & Gale as one of the UK’s most promising bands, and it’s a solid enough platform to work onto what I’m sure will be greater things. But I’m still confident that these guys are one’s to watch – optimistic that their best is yet to come. Hopefully next time round they’ll have less critical pressure on their minds, and they’ll be able to recapture that carefree spirit that still flickers throughout their work, and was in residence throughout the first album.
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on 4 July 2015
I was a great fan of their first album. I am lkiking this but it doesn't have the sheer magic and variety that the first album does in my opinion. The Optimist if full of colour and truly unique sounds and I am still a BIG fan. Some of these tracks Are very nice but the general feeling I got was that this album was a bit samey!
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on 6 March 2003
With bands such as Coldplay, Doves, Travis and Elbow currently enjoying the heady heights of commercial success with well crafted, emotive rock music, the time for the Turin Brakes is very much now. Their first offering, "The Optimist LP", first alerted the world to a rich, blossoming talent - now Olly Knights and Gale Paradganian are just about in full bloom.
It is difficult to describe their music without somehow using both the words 'simple' and 'complex'. Their largely laid-back, fairly mellow style has straightforward, curiously addictive melodies, but the instrumentation, varying from acoustic reverie to intricate arrangements, evokes memories stretching from John Martyn circa 1972 to Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon" era. Despite it sounding very much from the third millennium, it's still almost as if Radiohead (for example), had existed twenty years before they came along. The whole affair unquestionably adds up to a band reaching the crest of their creative powers - the single "Pain Killer" is a charming, tender rock song with some great refrains; "Self Help" is so good you can imagine it being whistled on the high streets fifty years from now; "Average Man" could have been from a non-existent, gritty road movie about lost souls of the highway; a bonus track, eight minutes after the last track "Rain City" finishes, is stormy, likeably repetitive and fluctuating between all forms of melancholic dynamics. However, "Little Brother" is a rather directionless sashay into heavier rock, going to show they should probably stick to what they know they are good at.
If there's any one particularly criticism, it is that their sound may not be quite distinctive enough to set them apart sufficiently from their contemporaries; in fact even some of their own music just seems to blend into each other. This is nit-picking though. Very possibly the first massive-selling album of the year, the Brakes are now well and truly released. Here's hoping they'll achieve top gear in next to no time.
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on 5 March 2003
I stumbled across Turin Brakes back in 2001 after a chance viewing of the video for "Mind Over Money" on MTV. It's a truly beautiful song, but more than that it just had that "something". I couldn't put my finger on what that something was but it definitely had it! I bought "The Optimist LP" on the strength of that and it has become one of my all time favorites.
I saw them live that summer at V2001 after convincing the group I was with that it was worth coming to see this band they'd never heard of. Out of the six of us that witnessed their performance, every single one went out and bought the CD soon after. The vocal harmonies and ultra-tight guitar was a privilege to witness. The Brakes give it their heart and soul live and I can't recommend catching them live highly enough.
"The Optimist LP" has been a constant player on my stereo ever since. Now we have "Ether Song". The second CD retains the best components of the first - searing vocals, moments of acoustic guitar perfection and an overall feel that can be unsettling, bleak yet heart-warming all at once.
"Ether Song" signals a definite progression for Turin Brakes - it is a weightier entity then their debut, the tracks seeming to have more purpose and direction. A highlight is "Long Distance", arguably the best Turin Brakes have ever produced.
I don't want to try and describe each track, like all great music, its impossible to convey the real essence of them in a review. All I'd say is that "Ether Song" has all the hallmarks of becoming a classic recording and will definitely be one of the best to arrive on the scene this year.
Buy it. If you liked "The Optimist LP" buy it, if you didn't then there is still enough here to warrant a second look. If you have never heard/heard of Turin Brakes then you are missing out on some of the most beautiful, emotional music you will ever hear. Disregard your normal boundaries of taste and take a risk on this one. You won't be disappointed.
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on 8 April 2003
I love Turin Brakes. A friend introduced me to them in 2002 and I found the combination between sensitive intelligence, honest emotion and skillful song writing a joy to behold. Often in moments of particular enthusiasm I end up close to kissing my friend for passing the cd on. Please, let me assure you that we are talking about a classy act here. I don't think I could ever lose faith in Olly and Gale. They could do an Avril cover and I'd still believe they were brillaint. Their honesty, talent and originality really does envoke a sense of pride in the fact that you have bought the cds. 'Ether Song' is woderfully fluid, thought-prevoking and what I would deem 'subtle genious'. Some people ask me to describe their style and I always end up bringing Coldplay or Radiohead into the conversation. But in reality, they're nothing like these bands, and I really hope they stay that way.
I would not say that these guys are for everyone. If you like your rock loud and indecipherable than you'll probably only be shocked into a confused silence. However, if you want to hear some good quality new music, I sincerly urge you to get this cd.
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on 22 April 2004
The first I heard of Turin Brakes was their single, 'Painkiller' which wasplayed a couple of times on the Q music channel. It blew me away, so I dida bit of research and found my way onto their website - where I listenedto (and liked!) more of their songs. I then went out and promtly boughtboth Ether Song and The Optimist.
Ether song is a reasonablylengthy album - 15 songs, which means it's great value for money. And thequality of the tracks is excellent. The jingling guitars and hard-hittingdrum beats are fantastic, and the lyrics are absolutely amazing. The twomembers of Turin Brakes are both extremely talented, Turin Brakes are arare find of quality music in this trash-populated industry.
Iwould class 'Ether Song' as an Indie album. All the songs are good,lyrically and musically. But some certainly stand out such as: AverageMan, Long Distance, Painkiller, Ether Song and 5 Mile. They're allfantastic.
I would definately recommend this album; even if it doesn't reallyappeal to you - you'll be suprised! I'm not a massive Indie fan but TurinBrakes blew me away. Definately buy it. And once you've done that go andbuy The Optimist, which is equally as good.
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