Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Braids Native Speaker Intrigues The Senses

One listen to the debut CD by the band Braids is just not going to do it. This is one of those kinds of CDs where it should have a sticker on the front requiring a “two listen minimum upon opening”. It is entitled Native Speaker and it is one of the most unique releases that I have heard in a long time.

Braids, who hail from Calgary, came together as four best friends in high school and began their musical collaboration shortly after. Their debut EP, Set Pieces, was released in 2008. This new release has only been out a short time, but it has garnered rave reviews from everyone including Rolling Stone, The New York Times and Spin.

How exactly can I describe what I heard in written form? The sound is both complex and simplistic at the same time. There is a great deal of experimentation and layering of sounds that is very refreshing. It is the ultimate “let the top down on a sunny day and drive with nowhere in mind” soundtrack.

Lead singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston has a style that is unique in today’s market, yet it has already started to draw comparisons to the Bjork from her early Sugarcubes days and Kate Bush. She has a sense of innocence to her styling, but when listening closely to her lyrics you can tell that those devil horns pop out every now and then.

The songs are somewhat “epic” in length given most standards that the industry is use to seeing. The average song length is six minutes long and none clock in under four minutes. “Glass Deers”, almost eight minutes in length, is a slow song that builds and builds with endless layers of synth arrangements. “Lemonade” is a more upbeat and somewhat catchy song that just keeps drawing you into it deeper and deeper. It’s almost like subliminal mind control to where you can’t turn it off. Wait; don’t let that scare any of you off.

I can see why this has caught the ears of an industry full of “flavors of the week” and all the rave reviews are warranted. Again, it is entitled “Native Speaker” by The Braids. It’s the band that many of you haven’t heard of before, but you soon will. They may be young, but what they bring to the table is wise and seasoned well beyond their years. Check them out before they blow up huge so that you can tell all your friends “I told you so”!

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