February 10, 2011

Braids: Experimental Music with A Magnetic Charm

Critics endlessly laud music that is "new," genre-defying, and experimental. Perhaps it is a noble cause, trying to search for something that is both smart and entirely original, but I find the recommendations are often to the detriment of the critic's very own readers. Should entire afternoons and evenings really be spent trying to force down a bulky hard-to-swallow pill of novelty and hipness when all you hear is layers of rattling noise? If a song doesn't click after two listens, chances are it's never going to and there's absolutely no reason to force it down. I recently gave up trying to listen to James Blake—he's a pill I can't swallow with water, wine or whiskey. That's not to say his music isn't good—it's just not for me. There are simply too many choices in our current digital musical age to invest time in something that comes without benefit or enjoyment.

Now here is where I become a hypocrite and discuss the Montreal band Braids. Yes, they embody that much sought-after element of "new" and are entirely experimental, but what is so phenomenal about this group is how instantaneously accessible their music is. Rather than having to force a listen and butt heads with inexplicable complexities, Braids' music elicits a natural and magnetic draw that is staggering. Thirty seconds into their debut album Native Speaker and I was hooked—not by a catchy melody or pop hook—but by the singular gorgeous sounds the group is able to seemingly mystically conjure out of their instruments. Album-opener "Lemonade" opens with an ominous and deep horn-like call-to-arms and it may as well be the doorway into Braids' surreal sonic universe as a lightly toned echoing guitar loop crawls up your arms and spine, raising every goose-bump and hair along the way. Please, give it a listen or two. That should be all it takes.

Braids - "Lemonade" (from Native Speaker)
Braids - "Plath Heart" (from Native Speaker)


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