Second band of the week to hit Cardiff from Calgary, Alberta, a city known more for the 1988 Winter Olympics and Bret ‘Hit Man’ Hart than as fertile indie rock outpost. The excellent Weird Canada blog puts that right, logging countless examples of hot new Canuck thrills from scrappy DIY garage to complex, glowing avant-pop. BRAIDS‘ roots may be low-key, but the now Montreal-based foursome definitely sit at the far end of that curve. The arrangements on debut album Native Speaker knot together tiny, deliberate pulses into huge, complex, undulating beasts, a scholarly kind of pop music, but it’s the engaging and powerful vocals of Raphaelle Standell-Preston that capture the attention. Cooing like Joanna Newsom, twisting phrases like Avey Tare or Dave Longstreth, strident and confident like Karen O or PGMG’s Andrea Zollo, she’s emotive and involved without the over-egged melodrama that dragged Austra’s gig last week into schlocky Twilight territory. Musically Braids take much from Animal Collective’s deconstructing and reshaping of indie rock, electronic and experimental music into something simultaneously out-there and weirdly accessible. These cues don’t define them any more than the vocal echoes do though; there’s something slippery and intriguing about their cerebral pop that makes you want to return.
RATATOSK, you know about. You must do. We’ve written about him here and here and here, to the point where the superlatives to describe his haunting, captivating, immersive music start to run dry. Warm, witty and self-effacing in person, the recently self-styled ‘Blixa Bargoed’ (oh COME ON) is fiercely committed to the many guises his music takes and, thankfully, highly prolific. Buy lots of stuff at his Bandcamp site, learn the words and sing them back at him, he definitely won’t be freaked out.
Second of the bands we’re bringing to Wales for their first ever show after we fell in love with them at this year’s SXSW. They played last weekend’s The Great Escape where they were one of the must-see bands. Their debut album ‘Native Speaker’ is an absolute cracker and we’re delighted to bring them into Cardiff for this debut show.
here’s what you need to know…
BRAIDS was formed by four best friends in their last year of High School in Calgary, Alberta. Convincing one another to skip university, they stayed in the garage all year and practiced obsessively, even while their fingers froze during the cold prairie winters. Then, at only 18 years old, they took the bold step of moving across the country together to Montreal, where they began crafting their self recorded/self produced debut album Native Speaker.
Oscillating between density and spaciousness, BRAIDS’ sound is not easy to define. The four members construct music which is ample and rolling, perhaps alluding to the landscapes of their youth, but filled with radical texture and startling immediacy, an influence of their more recent surroundings. Delicate layering gives their experimental pop epics just enough breath to playfully explore the depth of ambient melody. Though BRAIDS dives into moments of deep obscurity and sonic experimentation, there remains embedded within the music the hypnosis of an unforgettable pop tune.
Native Speaker, is the accumulation of months of meticulous craft-work to properly capture the band’s entrancing live performance. The albums’ songs were tested and shaped through numerous performances and lyrical massages, resulting in work that is brilliant in detail and structure. Averaging over 6 minutes and never coming in under 4, the tracks on Native Speakermaintain a deep seeded focus.
BRAIDS has an unusually collaborative dynamic, generating all of their sweeping sounds live in a synergistic maelstrom. Even their name, BRAIDS, evokes a feeling of something continuous and progressive, yet lush and intertwining. It implies the interweaving of all four members’ musical ideas, favoring collective and equal input.
On January 18, 2011 BRAIDS put forth their debut album Native Speaker, a reflection of coming of age for the four intricately linked musicians. It captures a period of innocence and a period of change, yet comes off as strikingly mature beyond their years. Most importantly, it displays a yearning and striving to break through, an ambitious debut for a young band just getting started.
The music of Ratatosk can be summed up in two words – miserablism and minimalism. If the initial motif is sufficiently sad and melancholy to bring a tear to the eye, then it’s explored and expanded upon with an almost zen-like repetition, using layered guitars, vocals, piano, harmonium, melodica, musical saw, theremin, and pedal steel.
Ratatosk is originally a mischievous squirrel from Norse mythology,
but in this context is some guy called Rhodri Viney. He has previously performed and released music under the names Teflon Monkey and Broken Leaf, along with being a major player in bands such as Right Hand Left Hand and Vito. He has also played live and on record with Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Sophia, Brave Captain, Sweet Baboo, H. Hawkline and many others.