Turin Brakes with David Gray

Friday, August 1; American Theatre

With the rise of Coldplay and David Gray, Britain's new wave looked to be favoring the acoustic and introspective, and London's Turin Brakes were crowned with next-big-thing status. Three years later, they're not the superstars it looked like they would become, and it's all garage-rock's fault. The main allure of the new acoustic movement was that it stripped away the bombast of the nü-metallers and got back to the basics. But when the Strokes, White Stripes and Hives proved that you could do the same thing and still keep the volume cranked to 11, all those quiet, sensitive balladeers (save Coldplay, who struck a happy medium) began to seem too touchy-feely for prime time.

All the same, it would be a huge mistake to write off the Turin Brakes. The duo has Jeff Buckley's command of morose ache -- singer Olly Knights even sings with a hint of his mentor's whispered glam-rock moan. A more important distinction, though, is the Brakes' fascination with American roots music, an influence that's obvious on their second album, Ether Song. Their jangle is earthy rather than twee, and it sounds full enough to be radio-ready. If the Turin Brakes lack touring companion David Gray's mild flirtation with electronic music, they more than compensate for it with vocal harmonies that sound as inviting as Simon and Garfunkel's. Quiet may never be the new loud, but the Turin Brakes prove that it doesn't have to be.

 
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