The Breaks

Odd Man Out EP

No music is as crucial to the formation of identity and aesthetic taste as the music one listens to as a teenager. Whatever angst, lust or confusion you feel is broadcasted back at you through your speakers, and that cycle forms a pretty unbreakable connection. I haven't seen the long-form birth certificates for the young men in the Breaks, but I'd guess that most of the members are in their early-to-mid-twenties, which means that they would have been somewhere between thirteen and sixteen in 2001, when the garage revival of the Strokes, the Hives and the Vines hit like a greasy-haired, leather-jacketed meteor. That's not to say that the Breaks come off as a direct tribute to those swaggering, nervy forefathers, but that mark is clear on the band's debut EP.

At five songs and eighteen minutes, Odd Man Out delivers a glancing blow of the Breaks' skills. Singer Collin Christopher is still finding his voice — it's hard to hear his true tone through some of the hiccuping affectations, but he sells the songs with doses of confidence and bravado, necessary traits for this time of frenetic, guitar-jangle rock & roll. Garage rock is either cheered or derided for its bash-it-out simplicity, but the Breaks are adept at giving smart, nuanced detail to these tunes — each one has some hairpin turn or effective tempo shift. The rollicking, twangy shuffle of the spaghetti-Western homage, appropriately titled, "Spaghetti," leaves the Southwestern vistas behind toward the end and head for a little metal-ish riffage. The strain of guitar worship that runs through the disc suggests that, for the Breaks, an air of detached cool doesn't mean there can't be some high-necked shredding. None of the music here is revolutionary, but the Breaks approaches its music with enough passion and skill to make the nostalgia trip worthwhile.

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