Album review: DOWNES BRAIDE ASSOCIATION – (DBA) – Suburban Ghosts (Geoff Downes, Chris Braide)

David Randall chats to Chris Braide about his music, songwriting, and collaboration with Geoff Downes (59:25)

In this hour special, Geoff Downes chats about DBA and his career which has included high profile stints in Yes and Asia.  He also chooses favourite tracks that have influenced and inspired him over the years. (59:15)

Both features include tracks from ‘Suburban Ghosts’ together with selected solo material.

First broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, 25 October 2015.
More interview/features at Mixcloud

DOWNES BRAIDE ASSOCIATION - Suburban Ghosts

Cherry Red Records [Release date 06.11.15]

We really liked the first DBA album – ‘Pictures Of You’  – in 2012 and gave it a suitably effusive review.  The truth is that an album like that – and now its successor – is really born out of its time with musicians who are not afraid to step outside of current listener expectations and who just do what they do.  In short, in a different age these albums would be huge.

Chris Braide is a Brit-born, L.A.-based songwriter who in the interim has released his own excellent solo album, ‘Fifty Dollar Planets And Twenty Cent Stars’,  whilst Geoff Downes … well, can he do no wrong?

Downes of course has form on this, and as one half of pop duo The Buggles with Trevor Horn knows a thing or two about commercial pop/rock.  Braide on the other hand has written for the likes of Kylie and Britney Spears whilst producing for artists like Lana De Rey and Paloma Faith.

A musical marriage made in heaven? Not arrff. ‘Suburban Ghosts’ is like a breath of fresh air with a heady mix of classy songwriting and musical craftsmanship.  Yes it looks back to the eighties  in terms of influence (and ambience) but we are now told that eighties music wasn’t that bad after all and this album has that decade’s stylistic foundation of keyboards,  harmony and an easy accessibility.

The lead track ‘Machinery Of Fate’ sounds a bit like  Pet Shop Boys but in a good way whilst the title track (Part 1 & 2) is lifted by its guitar solo play-out against rich harmony vocals.  That might be my only criticism – on the whole the album is keyboard-driven and a well placed guitar or even sax here and there may have provided sonic counter-balance.

Aside from his higher profile stuff with Yes and Asia, Geoff Downes has produced a string of projects in recent years which are well worthy of your consideration, not least with Anne-Marie Helder  – Electronica – which typically came and went without the appropriate fanfare.  He was also involved – with Chris Braide – in The Producers with Trevor Horn, and if you liked that you will like ‘Suburban Ghosts’.

Radio friendly in an age that favours YouTube and Soundcloud, crafted songs in an age that favours disposability, it seems DBA’s latest offering may be totally off-beam.   Dare to be different.  ****

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

Reviews archive
Album review (DBA, ‘Pictures Of You’, 2012)
Album review (Chris Braide, 2014)
Album review (New Dance Orchestra – ‘Electronica’, 2013)
Album review (The Producers, 2012)



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