The Optimist Gallery

The Optimist Gallery: Devon


I have been a Turin Brakes fan since the fall of 2001, when I discovered their album by accident on a tour of my local record store. Actually, maybe that’s false. I was a fledgling music writer at the time, so I was just beginning to supplement my CD buying habit with freebies that came from record labels. So, it’s possible I got the CD that way.

Nevermind–when I heard Turin Brakes for the first time, my life changed. I wrote this review for PopMatters around that time, which I believe was when the album became available in the States. I figured I would share my review from that time, which encapsulates my feelings about the album better than I could reproduce now.

Since then Turin Brakes has been without fail one of my favorite bands. I saw the band live in 2003 in New York and reviewed the show for PopMatters.

Moreover, in 2001 I developed a fairly severe flight anxiety as a response to the 9/11 attacks. Ever since, Turin Brakes is the only music I can listen to when I fly, and I find their music a general comfort during moments of anxiety. A few years ago, I wrote this on my blog:

“Olly Knights has one of the most believable voices I have ever heard in music–one that is not immediately gendered, not immediately compelling, but one that tries at every moment, like a suitor vying to win your heart. They write songs that are accessible about phases of life: getting older, having children, being obsessed, missing opportunities, finding spirit. For this, they engender deep faith in their listeners. I remember a few years ago seeing them in concert the first time, and the devotion of their fan base was overwhelming. (I wrote about that show here.) It is this irreducible nub of humanness–what Roland Barthes would call “the grain of the voice”–that makes them a band that has a small but diehard following. The only real comparisons I can think of are Morrissey and the Cure, who bring on these feelings for quite difference, such as irony, theatricality, angst, and humor.

It is this humanity that makes Turin Brakes the band that can carry me through my most insane moments of anxiety and my most crushing moments of fear, and still make me feel ebullient during triumphs or calm during those in-between times. This is conscious music, music with an aura, with sentiment and sense.” (

Thank you for 10 years!


Want to contribute to The Optimist Gallery? Send in your stories, photos, videos and memories to!

3 comments on “The Optimist Gallery: Devon

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.