What, you thought I wouldn't weigh in on my favorite band releasing their first album in 16 years this week? Are you fucking mental? Did I pre-order the album a number of months ago? YES. Did I lose my shit when NPR made the album available online for streaming? YES. Did I redeem my MP3 download from TopShelfRecords on midnight July 8th? THRICE YES.
Before I share my initial thoughts on the new Braid album... I want you to understand that I have an irrational love for this band. I vividly remember the first time I heard their music. I've seen them numerous times live in my lifetime and I've seriously considered flying to a city in the near future to catch them perform on the first leg of the No Coast tour.
I'm in the tank for this band. Possibly more so than any other band in my musical library.
A couple of years ago, the band put out 4 song EP entitled Closer to Closed - the release consisted of 3 new tracks and a cover. It sorta provided a trajectory of where the band was heading as a collective group of friends (in their 30s) who above all enjoy recording and performing music together.
Roughly a year or so ago, Braid released 2 songs (which are on No Coast) on a split EP (entitled SPLIT) with Balance and Composure. It took a number of listens... but I sorta cobbled the two releases and I came to grips with what Braid was going to sound like 16 years after Frame and Canvas.
When I listened to the opening track Bang - I kinda settled into setting my expectations for the record. I've always championed Chris Broach songs over Nana ones so I was really stoked to hear him reins on the second track of the album - East End Hollows.
The album is freakishly balanced in that respect... Nana and Broach are equally represented on this album. The song No Coast (a play on Chicago being in the midwest and the band not wanting to coast through the recording of this album) - equally features the two trading vocal duties. It's possibly the song I'm most excited to hear them perform live...
I'm slowly starting to explore and get a lot more familiar with the later tracks of the album now. Two stand out tracks: Put Some Wings On That Kid and Life Crisis - are interesting and cryptic in way that only Nana can deliver. In a recent interview Nana opened up about his documenting habit and recently meeting his real parents (he's an adoptee).
All in all - I think the album is great. 10 of the 12 songs were new to me and my favorite band has released 15 new tracks over the past 3 years.
If you get a chance to watch Killing A Camera (re-shot in 2004) you can begin to see that these guys never wanted to really break up. This is the sound of 4 friends truly not compromising their friendships or artistic visions.
There's something nice about loving a band that isn't intending to break through in terms of fan base recognition. They just continue to effect those who stop long enough to listen.