Braid - Age of Octeen / by Rollie Agado

Did you know that I discovered my all-time-favorite band randomly through a very late night Yahoo-Chat Room called "Weezeohead".  The room was perfect for those of us who were 18, into Weezer's Pinkerton and Radiohead's the Bends.  In said room, you could chat up girls... guys posing as girls and guys who were into a number of indie bands.

A lot of the conversations were hard to follow... mainly because I didn't exactly know the chatroom short-hand.  You could be engaged in a conversation with three or 4 people and that would abruptly change when someone would storm a room and say something to piss everyone off.

Your computer screen would fill with popup windows containing "chat requests".   It would say something to the effect of:  "RedClover95 would like to engage in a chat".

If you selected yes... you were immediately prompted with the A/S/L (age, sex, location) question...   I would answer honestly and then discover that RedClover95 was hoping that my handle: 'september29th' was a girl and things would get awkward.

On one random night... I was up late on the internets and received a chat invite.  I accepted a chat invite and had a conversation with a complete stranger who lived out east but was originally from the unspecific Midwest.  We talked about bands and she went on and on about a band called Braid.   I had no idea who she was talking about and she insisted I check them out.   I ordered their album on CDNow (anyone else remember that?) and got the album "Age of Octeen" a few days later by mail.

I never spoke to that girl again.  Which is something that completely bugs me to this day.  The person who turned me onto Braid will forever be a mystery.

AgeofOcteen.jpg

I listened to the album a few times when I first got it and it didn't sink in.   I'm pretty sure I didn't spin it until the spring of 1997 and listened to the album on headphones.  I came back to the dorm early one day and listened to the album through headphones.  Then for some strange reason, I started to listen to "My Baby Smokes" and pictured Eddie Vedder singing the songs.

Bob Nana, sounds nothing like Eddie Vedder... but No Code had just come the previous fall and  the two worlds sorta came together.   I listened to the song, with this perverse idea that Pearl Jam could possibly record an album that sounded like Age of Octeen.   Like... I fucking convinced myself of it and I would listen to the song over and over and over until I came to the realization that I really liked the way Braid arranged songs.

I then made my way down the record and found myself disliking every track at first until I came around and convinced myself to love it.

Braid made it impossible sometimes to like them because the lyrics were incredibly hard to decipher.  Bob Nana would clearly say something and then juxtapose that statement with something that made no fucking sense in the next verse.

example:  Nineteen Seventy Five

nineteen
the years can cut
veins in vain
from these hands
callouses come 
and cut cans
lies our best laid plans
for
one
nine
nine
five

After numerous listens on headphones I discovered that there was a second vocalist in the band...  Chris Broach.   He typically does all the shouting in the background, but he'll occasionally do some verse interchanges in addition to playing along/against Bob Nana's guitar/vocal work.

It's an album that continues to surprise me after nearly listening to it for 20 years.  While it's possibly their second best full length (Frame and Canvas their first), it will always be my favorite because it was my jumping point.

Standout Tracks:

Artists: Braid
Album: Age of Octeen
Producer:  ?
Label: Mud Records
Recorded: ?