Album: No Coast
Release Date: 8th July 2014
Label: Topshelf Records
Over the past three years a ghost from the past has arisen to share with the world its own brand of Indie Rock, that ghost is Braid. Unfortunately I am a little too young to remember them being around (they formed in 1993 so I wasn’t even 1 yet) but I can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia creep over me when I listen to their newest album and first release in 15 years, No Coast. It has a very similar feeling to their older albums and hearkens back to the golden age when Indie Rock was rife and with the likes of The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand coming through the scene.
Following the unexpectedly enormous success of their 1998 album, Frame and Canvas, the band split due to the stresses and strains of touring life and a difference of ideas on which direction to take the band. Since then they have reunited for a tour, had several EP releases and a documentary on their final gigs together. However, it seems that nothing can keep Braid down for long and here they are again with a brand new album, which, for me, is easily their best to date.
Rife with old-school Indie Rock anthems, punk-style driven guitar and drum work and some slower indie ballads, this is more than a simple reunion, this is a full-fledged reinvention and return of a true great of the genre. Braid are back, they’re at their best and they seem ready to take on the world once more.
No Coast begins with the beautifully nostalgic, Bang. It has the feel of a 90’s song through and through. The recording style, crisp yet gritty sound and dual vocals can’t help but remind me of some newer Punk rock bands and Braid seem to be joining them in bringing back the more raw style of production which gives off the feeling of a Live record. Powerful rhythm guitar and drumming flitter around more gentle riffs and softer sections as the vocals soar and really accentuate the performances of each individual.
East End Hollows again has the feel of a true Indie Rock anthem, something you imagine to be playing in an independent record store with a collection of the most interesting looking people you’ll ever see together in one place. A real summer record, it has a real energy about it but it isn’t full on, more of an infectious vibe that you can’t help but get caught along with, gently drifting with it as each part seamlessly flows into the next.
Up next we have the title track, No Coast. Somewhat similar to the previous track but with a slower, more deliberate step to it. It builds gently to a quicker chorus that immediately grabs you without feeling too firm, a little tease of the stronger side of the band. It continues much in this vein, a full song with gentle purpose and a steady pulse that feels very much like the old Braid, which is most definitely not a bad thing!
Damages brings the album back to a faster pace but keeps the mellow flavour in subtle guitar work and the softer vocals lead to a Punk-esqe chorus with the powerful guitar and more aggressive vocals that still retain a level of softness to them. This flows brilliantly into Many Enemies which plays more on these higher more aggressive vocals that sound very Pop Punk, it all adds another element to an already eclectic band and the sound on the whole really grows from this duality. An altogether more grown up song that ends in the same way it begins.
We come to another softer track from the album, Pre Evergreen, which makes use of the gentler tones of the band and generates images of an intimate gig in a small room with as many people crammed is as humanly possible. The whole album has this vibe of feeling more personal than many albums just don’t have or can’t emulate. Maybe it’s all that this band has gone through or simply how tight they are but as a unit, the seem to have put a lot of themselves into each and every song. Put Some Wings On That Kid follows in much the same vein but with more of the subtle punk vibe coming through in the guitar work and percussion which flows perfectly into Lux, a song that some of you may know which was on a recent collaborative record by Braid with Balance And Composure. Another roaring Indie Dock anthem reminiscent of early The Killers. A perfect single track.
Doing Yourself In and Climber New Entry are yet another example of the broad range of musical talent in the band, pulling in pieces from Punk, Rock and Indie to create some powerful driving tracks with real soul. The more aggressive vocals coming into play a little more which adds tot he Punk vibe running through many of the songs.
The album finishes on a slower note with Light Crisis and This Is Not A Revolution showing off the bands ability to offer a dynamic range of styles, tones and spanning numerous genres. This Is Not A Revolution is my favourite song from the album. It reminds me of lazy Sunday’s with a gentle rain hitting the windows and watching old cartoons wrapped up in a duvet on the sofa. A slow tempo sing-along song that rounds off an excellent album, a new beginning and a reintroduction of a long-awaited giant of the Indie Rock Genre.
Glorious song writing that showcases a pooling of talent, experience and a maturity that is really needed in a genre that has nearly died out over the past few years.
Braid will be performing a small tour run to support the album.
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