Sunday, May 10, 2009

Reviews:: Braids Set Pieces

Remember ’08? In blog years I might as well be talking about '87, but even a few months ago people collectively lost their shit about Bug, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and The Hold Steady. For me, it was all about The Rural Alberta Advantage, Chad VanGaalen and of course, Women/Azeda Booth. Considering how much I loved Azeda Booth (review), it’s really surprising I never bother to check out fellow Calgarians and myspace compadres, Braids.

Even with opening spots for Pitchfork poster children Deerhunter and being a “band to watch” on Stereogum, Braids – originally named The Neighbourhood Council – still fly under the radar. You’d think with the tender age – most are just hitting 20 now (almost a year after the release of the EP) – and the bold ambition of Set Pieces, the critics would be salivating. Despite being recorded live at a radio station, the slow building epics (three of the five songs top the 7-minute mark) show the maturity and understanding required for a band to blossom into something great.

Opening an EP with a 9-minute track is a bold choice for any band, but for a new band recording their first song it’s downright brazen. And honestly, that confidence really made me want to like this band even more. Liver and Tan shows considerable control of pace, tempo and surprising restraint. Akin to young teens having sex, new bands often jackhammer away and climax after a few minutes, leaving the other party unsatisfied. Braids shows patience at an early age, letting the listener move with the changes in melody and pace. The simple guitar that opens the track grabs you, priming you for something big but the band plays with you as the bring the song to an almost standstill before executing a fantastic three minute build filled with atmospheric tones, gentleness and dueling vocals that crash over you in waves. You want to break into full stride but they don’t let you. They push forward slowly, confidently, daring you to rush ahead and leave them behind.

Instead of playing it safe, Braids forces you to listen for every second of their 5-song EP. You might not agree with every note, but you certainly don’t drift off into complacency. The crystalline texture that starts She Brace Soul gives way to tribal drums, hammered piano line and more staccato vocals. It’s frantic and primal, but the band quickly retreats again, returning to the . The playful groove of Marlin demonstrates a keen sense of melody, but instead of simply riding out the wave the band uses static noise and tortured vocals to derail the track. The experimentation might not work for everyone, but it shows that Braids is already much more than a few well placed drums and guitar chords.

I’m late to the party on this, but the band (now in Montreal) has said that recording has started for a full length. I’m excited to hear the new music, but more curious as to what directions they will run.

MP3:: Liver and Tan

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Posted at 7:54 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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