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Broken Records - Until the Earth Begins to Part

  by John Clarkson

published: 26 / 5 / 2009

Broken Records - Until the Earth Begins to Part
Label: 4AD
Format: CD


Dynamically tense and magnificent debut album from imaginative Edinburgh-based indie electric folk seven-piece, Broken Records

Indie electric folk act Broken Records have whipped up a storm of public and critical approval in their native Scotland since forming at the tail end of 2006. The group, an Edinburgh-based seven-piece consisting of Jamie Sutherland (vocals), his brother Rory (violin, guitar and accordion), Ian Turnbull (guitar, piano and accordion), Arne Kolb (cello), Dave Smith (piano, trumpet), Andrew Keeney (drums), and David Fothergill (bass), are a busy live act. They have now played over hundred gigs, sixty of these in their first year alone. Broken Records also found the time to record last year three limited edition and now extremely hard-to-find singles on three different labels, ‘If the News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It’ (Young Turks), ‘Slow Parade’ (Fandango) and ‘Lies’ (Distiller Records). They signed to 4AD at the beginning of this year, with whom they are now releasing their debut album, ‘Until the Earth Begins to Part’. Broken Records have been described by the ‘NME’ as “the Scottish Arcade Fire.” They will inevitably continue to draw similar comparisons with the Canadians because of the dervish spirit of much of their music as well as their large membership and shared habit of swapping their instruments around on stage. There is, however, also a strong Eastern European gypsy element to Broken Records’ sound, and, in their gigantic, soaring soundscapes and fiery Celtic energy, they recall too ‘The Big Music’ of Mike Scott and the Waterboys. The throaty-voiced and guttural Jamie Sutherland makes a particularly articulate and forceful front man. The humour of the titles of his songs over lie an anger and disgust at the world. First single, ‘If the News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It’, which has been a staple of Broken Records’ live set since the very beginning, rails against apathy and the relentless negativity of the news. As Sutherland snipes at the politicians who have caused much of the world’s problems, (“That’s what I want to see/No more blood/No tears/No more greed”), his lyrics - in the instant global plunge into recession that has evolved since the song was written - have an air now of grim, fulfilled prophecy. ‘If Eilert Loevborg Wrote a Song Like This, It Would Sound Like This’ is meanwhile named after an alcoholic suicide in Henrik Ibsen’s play ‘Hedda Gabler’, and, told from his lovelorn perspective at Hedda’s rejection, is appropriately anguished (“Do you know you come to me at night when it is cold ?/Do you know the words of loss with your hands around my throat ?”). On both these tracks, Broken Records crank up the volume from quiet to loud in a second. Yet they have a lot more in them than just this one trick. Opener ‘Nearly Home’, which is about putting faith in the wrong things (“You’ll find the things that you held do dear/the things that so close were never really real”), begins as a swirling, slowly uncoiling ambient number, before developing into a violin-led lament and finally concludes as a military marching number. ‘A Promise’ in contrast is a slow-burning piano ballad about lost love and renewed hopes (“Without love, I’ll rise again”), which slowly starting to build at the halfway point only erupts into a cacophony of noise in its final seconds. The group's use of dynamics and tensions is compelling throughout, but is never bettered than in the final segment of the album. There is an absolutely wonderful moment at the start of the penultimate track, 'A Good Reason', which starts with the sawing sound of Rory Sutherland's violin. It is joined by the sudden abrupt crack of Ian Turnbull's guitar. One knows that there is more from Turnbull on the way, but is kept waiting several seconds by him before there is another swift thump of guitar and then further time still before he grinds his guitar again three times in instant succession and the tune soars forwards into another frenzied politically-charged rocker ("If you want to give me just one good reason why all these things are passed/and it doesn't mean a thing"). The last track, former single 'Slow Parade' is a gorgeous upbeat ballad in which Jamie Sutherland finds his broken heart healed after playing a gig with his band,("The stars could rip apart/It doesn't matter now/All time has stopped/Consigned to memory/Oh, the joy that is in our hearts"). It begins with vibrating accordions and a simmering piano line that slowly swing ever upwards before coming to a false end, and then start all over surging on to even stronger heights than before. ‘Until the Earth Begins to Part’ is a magnificent debut from a creatively energetic and imaginative band of explosive substance.

Track Listing:-
1 Nearly Home
2 If the News Makes You Sad, Don't Watch It
3 Until the Earth Begins to Part
4 A Promise
5 Thoughts on a Picture (In a Paper, January 2009)
6 If Eilert Loevborg Wrote a Song, It Would Sound Like This
7 Wolves
8 Ghosts
9 A Good Reason
10 Slow Parade

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Interview (2014)
Broken Records - Interview
John Clarkson speaks to Jamie Sutherland, the singer with much acclaimed Edinburgh-based alternative rock seven-piece act Broken Records about their first album in four years, 'Weights and Pulleys', which they have released on their own label

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If the News Makes You Sad, Don't Watch It (2008)
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