Saturday, July 9, 2011

Braid - Closer to Closed (2011)

Yet another brand new release that I believe needs to be heard. Here we get a thorough lesson in the integrity of the bands of yore reuniting, especially when deciding to release new music. Now for most bands, you can usually deduce the meaning behind reuniting. The capitalization off of nostalgia being one of the main reasons. A cult or classic sound becomes popular to hear again, and thus, the originators of the sound spring back from the dead to steal your money. Sometimes, it's nice to see one of your favorite bands of high school rough it up, but for the most part, it can be embarrassing for all parties involved. Especially with the 90's emo/indie genre. Who wants to see a bunch of very grown men sing about their confused feelings when they went through puberty?

Now when Braid all of a sudden announced they were getting back to together, nonetheless recording new music, I was excited at first. I love the band, and think that many of their records and 7inches still hold up to this day. But, I also began to think, "Newly recorded music? Oh man, this is going to be a trainwreck". Well I am more than pleasantly surprised with this 7in of material that brought the band back together.

These four songs are well past the line of trite nostalgia. Closer to Closed more so seems like four good friends reconvening to deliver the same great music that brought them together in the first place. The opening song, "The Right Time", is the star of the record, with Chris Broach taking reigns of the song. He isn't as angsty as he used to sound, but matured into a wonderful singing voice that I am sure will complement Bob Nanna's swoon. "Universe or Worse" also contains a classic element of that 90's genre, a prolonged closing bridge with the drums being the center piece as the song slowly fades away. I can't tell you how many bands in the current emo revival have tried to pull these elements off and fail miserably, and here is a band that hasn't played together in years showing everyone how it is done right.

My only complaint is that there weren't any songs with both Broach and Nanna singing. That was one of the dynamics I loved about Braid, the duo vocalists. But I am sure Braid will stick around to release more great music, and that one woe will be put to rest. Enjoy.

  1. The Right Time
  2. Do Over
  3. You Are the Reason
  4. Universe or Worse
It could never be this good again.

Friday, July 8, 2011

William Elliott Whitmore - Field Songs (2011)

I was somewhat hesitant to post this on the blog, but ultimately, Whitmore's music needs to be heard. A few years ago he released an album, Animals in the Dark, that was the first record to be recorded outside of his trilogy of records that dealt with the feelings of loss and death (Ashes to Dust, Hymns for the Hopeless, Song of the Blackbird). Animals was a maturing of Whitmore's already classic style, incorporating all sorts of instruments along with some very political lyrics. The album was highly praised, and the success received form it was with great reason.

Field Songs is almost a going back to form record, not necessarily rediscovering his roots (he's never lost his footing in that respect), more so a minimal take on his brand of Americana. The record is all conceived around the idea of being one with the land around you, specifically in regards to farming. The political leanings of Animals finds it's way in the record, with a few shots towards factory farming, but songs are mostly about fully embracing yourself with the Earth. To lose one's self in the flow of nature. The album also includes many nature-like interludes, with the sounds of birds chirping and the wind blowing while the songs wind down or start up.

Those who enjoyed the fire and brimstone of Animals in the Dark, shouldn't be wary of Field Songs, Whitmore definitely has more rebellious inclinations that will manifest themselves in later records. However, especially with his growing career, one shouldn't forget what Whitmore is teaching us with Field Songs, taking moments in time to remember where we come from. Please do yourself a favor, if you even remotely enjoy this man's art, go see him when he comes to your town and show him your support.

  1. Bury Your Burdens in the Ground
  2. Field Song
  3. Don't Need It
  4. Everything Gets Gone
  5. Let's Do Something Impossible
  6. Get There From Here
  7. We'll Carry On
  8. Not Feeling Any Pain
We will be the freest of the free.