Anyone who thinks that a debut album recorded live is just a studio cop-out hasn't heard how tight The Brakes can nail their songs. With keen ears for dynamic interplay and a fervently unselfish respect for each other's roles in the band‚ Tale of Two Cities is the story of a pop outfit disguised in rock 'n' roll.
"Into The Ground" starts off with sparse piano and bass under the vocals‚ and impressively sounds both tough and quiet. Blushing with Wilco adoration‚ the tune moves into swinging indie-pop and serves as a beacon to the great songwriting this band possesses. However‚ more often than not the songs center on Zach Djanikian's voice‚ which is so good that it seemingly makes the band underestimate their rock prowess. Latent Black Crowes-like rippers give way to more John Mayer-ish comfort rock‚ and in many ways make it feel like the band is missing out on their full potential. They're spot-on at what they're trying to do though-Ryan Adams should be checking his rear-view.