This week’s reviews: Braid, The Proper Ornaments

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Braid – No Coast (2014, Topshelf Records)

Braid is a very influential band from the Midwestern emo scene of the 1990s. Often uttered in the same breath as The Promise Ring, early Get-Up Kids, and Sunny Day Real Estate, they released The Age of Octeen in 1996 and Frame and Canvas in 1998 to rave reviews.  Braid is best known for earnest songs full of angst and self-reflection.

Since breaking up in 1999, they occasionally re-formed to play shows and this week, Braid released their first full-length album in 16 years. Called No Coast, the album is definitely a throwback to the emo/post-hardcore sound of those bands mentioned above. It doesn’t sound old, however.

Songs like “No Coast” and “East End Hallows” are two of the stand-out tracks while “Damages!” is an example of more frantic angst. In “Lux,” “woah-oh-ohs” are peppered throughout and act as a bridge linking each verse. It is participation-friendly music.

While Braid are a very significant band in the early development of emo, they also fit in with the current crop emo-revival bands like The Front Bottoms and Into It. Over It. The closing track, “This Is Not A Revolution,” seems to make a statement on the different and sameness of emo/post-hardcore bands.


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The Proper Ornaments – Wooden Head (2014, Slumberland / Fortuna Pop!)

After reading about this album in Largehearted Boy’s “Interesting Music Releases,” I am glad I took a chance on The Proper Ornaments and their album Wooden Head. The band’s name evoked a twee-pop vibe. Once I listened to the album, I concluded that the sound emits a feeling of 90s Brit-Pop (like Blur and Teenage Fanclub) and power-pop bands (like Big Star and The Lemonheads). Some of the guitars are jangley and some of the vocals are slightly muffled. This UK-based indie pop band is adapting the sound of those who came before and making it their own.

The guitar melody in “Steroelab” sounds like something by Parquet Courts but with less punky vocals. “Tire Me Out” sounds like a sped up version of Yo La Tengo’s “Autumn Sweater.”

The album clocks in at 14 songs in 38 minutes. It is a good blend of catchy melodies and solid harmonies. It is recommended for fans of lo-fi, power-pop.

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