Philadelphians The Breaks combine blues, edgy pop and tight arrangements | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Philadelphians The Breaks combine blues, edgy pop and tight arrangements

The main thing that comes across on The Brakes' debut album, Tale of Two Cities, is the cohesion between the five musicians -- which makes sense, since all five have known each other and played together in various bands since middle school. And for a bunch of twentysomethings, the Brakes arrange their songs like veterans.

Tale of Two Cities doesn't fit easily into one style, with the blues moments alternating with more edgy pop, flowing into more singer-songwriterly areas as well. In "State of the Union," guitars and organ fill the space between lyrics with little melodies. "Into the Ground" sports a piano-driven bounce and a trumpet solo that approximates both a jazz break and a nod to "Penny Lane." And Derek Feinberg's slide guitar makes "Big Money" a credible piece of city blues. Lead vocalist Zach Djanikian's emotional delivery on the title track even evokes memories of Squeeze's finer moments, when combined with the organ washes of Adam Flicker.

The album, which dropped May 6, takes its name from the fact that it was recorded live in two locations: New York's Knitting Factory and hometown Philadelphia's Milkboy club. The album-release coincides with a band tragedy: Drummer Joshua Sack died May 4 of leukemia. He was 22. Nevertheless, the band has continued its scheduled tour, which brings it to town on Wed., May 21.


The Brakes with Carney. 10:15 p.m. Wed., May 21 (doors 9:30 p.m.). Club Café, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $8. 412-431-4950 or

click to enlarge City blues: The Brakes
City blues: The Brakes

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