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Although their debut album Native Speaker won t be released until Jan 18th, 2011 (Kanine), Montreal-via-
Calgary based BRAIDS was named one of Stereogum s 40 Best New Bands of 2010. Formed by four best
friends in their last year of high school, their self-recorded and produced album is the product of months of
meticulous craft-work to properly capture the band s entrancing live performance. Delicate layering gives
their experimental pop epics just enough breath to playfully explore the depth of ambient melody. And
while BRAIDS dives into moments of deep obscurity and sonic experimentation, there remains embedded
within the music an unforgettable pop tune. Playing several show at this year s CMJ festival resulted in
glowing reviews from NY Times, Brooklyn Vegan, Nylon, Spinner and more. With their album release, they
will be looking to expand their reach with their first US national tour this spring.
Sounds like this decade distilled: the psychedelic Shiatsu of Animal Collective, the expansiveness of Broken Social Scene and a bit of the primitivist snap-a-longs of High Places and the Blow --Fader
It starts with swirls of keyboards, bubbling aquatically, before Raphaelle Standell-Preston begins whispering naughty, wounded vocals. By the time the chorus first arrives... her voice has swelled to a forceful kick. --NY Times
Braids songs revolve around loops and layers of guitars and keyboards, setting up cascading arpeggios and pointillistic cross-currents, pulsating drones and stereophonic ripples. Clearly, Braids has listened to Minimalist composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich, and very possibly to bands like Stereolab and Dirty Projectors as well. The music materializes part by part, openly revealing its components before they turn into a hypnotic force: a texture, a motif, a mesh, eventually a voice or voices with verses and choruses and then, often, an instrumental postscript, as if the songs and the cycles within them might still be going on somewhere, just out of earshot.
It's heady music about the body and its imperative . And it's every bit as mesmerizing and vertiginous as desire can be. --JON PARELES --NY Times, 1/18/11
Top customer reviews
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This is a compact album, consisting of only seven tracks. But those tracks tend to be longish and experimental, and the ideas that Braids explore are unique and successful. There's a simple test for finding out if you'd enjoy "Native Speaker:" look up the song "Lemonade." If that appeals to you, than congrats, you'll enjoy this album; it consists of similar soundscapes and songwriting. If not, then stay away. For me, I love "Lemonade," and I love "Native Speaker."
The first notable differentiation: the singer is a lady. And her vocals work seriously well. She sounds like a blend of St. Vincent and Bjork. Her vocals can be bouncy or somber--sometimes in the same song. Other members of the band lend their vocals to the background generally in the progression of the song. It all works so well.
The production on this album is stellar. Songs like the opener, "Lemonade" (my favorite), really showcase the simplistic yet creative progression the band employs. This album has a great sound. There is a perfect blend of the more upbeat tracks like "Same Mum" & "Plath Heart" and the slow paced melodic opuses like "Native Speaker" & "Glass Deer" and those that fall between the cracks: "Lemonade" & "Lammicken" to feed your ears for years until they release their next album.
"Native Speaker" has it all. It's melodic, droney, slow, fast, repetitive, progressive, soft, hard, subtle, loud, somber, galvanizing. It's great. It's music that can transcend contrasting moods. It works just as well as background music when you're feeling chill as in the car when you're feeling vibrant. This is an easy 5 stars and a fantastic beginning to Twenty Eleven. Should be a good year!