BrakesBrakesBrakes Give Blood

With just 16 songs in less than half an hour, Brakes give an economical lesson in how to make great, variegated music. Fronted by British Sea Power's Eamon Hamilton, the album covers deceptively prodigious ground juxtaposing dense ironical post-punk with simple, evocative country-pop. "Heard About Your Band” is funny, if not for its mordant jabs at "the scene,” then at least for its featuring a Briton yelping the line "Whatever, dude.” Elsewhere Hamilton implores Dick Cheney to "stop being such a dick,” before gracing us with "You’re So Pretty,” a startlingly lush So-Cal masterpiece. Funny, vicious and vulnerable, Give Blood is charmingly tri-polar and virtually inexhaustible. (Rough Trade)