Before getting into the meat of this post, a couple things need to be clarified. First, this is not a piece on Montreal art rock band Braids. Rather, it's about Urbana, Ill. emo band Braid (read: no “s”.) Secondly, it's important to announce the overwhelming bias I have for this Midwestern musical outfit who was the soundtrack of my life for more than a decade. After breaking up in 1998 the band's label, Polyvinyl Records has announced the band is in the process of pressing an EP, their first effort since 1998's epic Frame and Canvas.
No doubt there are many familiar with the band rolling their eyes at my
enthusiasm who consider Braid the equivalent of sonic garbage. “Nanna's
voice is too scratchy, and whiny.” “Chris Broach screams too much.”
“Their drummer would be better if he didn't play such complicated
fills.” There's probably also a group of folks who have yet to hear
the band, who will go out and give them a listen, then promptly roll
their eyes. I say to both, stop being so critical and just try to enjoy
For those who are not familiar with the band or what's going on with them, here's the basic story:
was formed in 1993 when guitarist/singer Bob Nanna, a University of
Illinois student teamed up with drummer Roy Ewing, who responded to a
classified ad placed by Nanna for someone interested in trading video
tapes of live shows.
The two shared similar musical interests, and after
the addition of bassist Todd Bell, and guitarist Chris Broach, Braid was
formed. Ewing eventually left the band and was replaced by Damon
Atkinson. According to Braid's Facebook page, the band played 597 shows
in 47 states and 18 countries. Prior to their breakup, they recorded a
slew of 7″s as well as three full length albums, a live release and a
movie documenting their final shows.
After breaking up, the
majority of the players went on to form power pop group Hey Mercedes
sans Broach who went on to form the Firebird Band. Braid briefly
reunited in 2004 to do a quick US tour and played a fantastic show at
Anaheim all-ages venue Chain Reaction.
Needless to say, I'm
ecstatic. But there are those who cannot wrap their brains around the
fact that people like this band. Braid shares much in common with other
bands such as The Promise Ring and the Getup Kids (read dramatic lyrics
and weird melodies).
Despite their uber dramatic lyrical
material (“Everything is nothing/and nothing's important”), my best guess
is that there is something incredibly visceral in the band's angular
rhythms, gutteral screams and histrionic lyrical material. A complete
letting go of musical convention and a big fuck you to those who would
place contraints on their vision. But instead of skewing ego maniacle,
there's an overidding honesty in the music. A raw expression of emotion
giving creedence to genre's name. My only question at this point is
whether or not they'll be playing in our neck of the woods anytime soon.