Braves Love & Mercy

Rockford, Illinois quintet the Braves perform solid, mid-tempo American rock in the rootsy, subtle-twang spirit of classic R.E.M. and woefully underrated state mates, the Service. Even the production on this nine-song debut harks back to a place and time not so long ago, when drums resounded with a little more reverb and an omnipresent Rickenbacker chimed away at the back of the mix. Although there’s little here to define the band in its own original terms, these are hearty, well played tunes that ought to find familiar favour with a demographic element for which college-rock is a nostalgic term. At any rate, the band lives up to its moniker by mining an important and hugely influential corner of the ’80s that remains largely ignored in the shadows of cheesy metal and new wave nostalgia. (Johann's Face)