BRAIDS
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"Band To Watch: The Neighbourhood Council"

stereogum: Band To Watch

after two weeks of reader-tipped BTWs from Lawrence, Kansas, we mentioned there seemed to be something going on in that city, despite William S. Burroughs up and dying a few years ago. After the proclamation went out, we received notes from people in other cities and towns and territories, letting us know that, no actually, it's such and such where things are happening. One such place: Calgary, Alberta (thanks to an email from Mark H. of Wood Pigeon). Actually Brandon lived in Cowtown for three years, did a bit of freelance, knows the place well and good, always appreciated its scene, but after some investigation, he notes there's definitely a new crop of younger bands who've risen up since he crossed back into the States.

Our favorite so far is the Neighborhood Council, two guys and two gals all under 20. The quartet's been around for about a year now. When they started, they won in the "youth category" at the Calgary Folk Music Festival, but what they're doing now would make more sense as part of the International Pop Underground. Take a listen to "Liver And Tan," the opening track from their new self-released Set Pieces EP. It's a nine-minute piece of pop that would've made sense next to the Ropers on a split Slumberland 7", but with some of that early Pacific Northewest sound, like what you might expect from the Softies, only on a more shoe-gaze tip with gentler dueling Excuse 17-style harmonies, nice ride patterns, breezy "oh"s for color. Something like that.

Hear the equally worthy "She Brave Soul" at MySpace. The Council's five-track EP was recorded at CJSW, the campus radio station at the University of Calgary, in mid April. While the four Councilers are all currently Calgarians, they told us "we will be moving to Montreal progressively over the next 6 months." Additionally, they might be doing a tour in August -- updates when we have them. They don't have a label. For now, if you want to buy a copy of the EP, you should email the band. As they told us, "[we] make burn and labour over every one of them." See, there's that Pacific Northwest D.I.Y. thing again.

http://stereogum.com/archives/band-to-watch/band-to-watch-the-neighbourhood-council_010878.html - Stereogum


"BRAIDS "Liver and Tan""

BRAIDS
"Liver and Tan"
11/12/2008 By Cam Lindsay

Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention this week and missed an opportunity to plug this band yesterday to coincide with their Montreal date supporting Deerhunter and Times New Viking, but I suppose it's not too late considering they're also doing tonight in Toronto at Lee's Palace.

The band I'm referring to are the Neighbourhood Council, or were called that — they've just changed their name to BRAIDS, just as I was typing this up. Yeah, their MySpace page changed over and everything, right in front of my eyes.

Cue weird digression!

Explanation from the band's Katie Lee on the name change: We felt like the Neighbourhood Council does not represent the music that we play anymore and we thought it was a good time to change it because we just moved to Montreal and it was suitable to change it for these shows. We created this band about a year-and-a-half ago and our music then had a direction that is completely opposite of where we want our music to go. Plus 'the Neighbourhood Council' was thought up in such a ridiculous way. And we knew we would tire of it some day. I guess the day was yesterday.

Now where was I...

A four-piece all currently under the age of 20 from Calgary and now based out of Montreal, they've scored possibly the most coveted opening slot in their circle supporting Deerhunter and Times New Viking for two dates. I'll admit it, their opening stint is what introduced me to these fellow Canadians, and I'm grateful for it. They adorably classify themselves as "experimental pop" and I can't argue with that.

Considering they formed last year and took home the youth category trophy for songwriting at the Calgary Folk Music Festival only months later, well, the evidence is all there in the two tracks on the BRAIDS MySpace page. They've just dropped an EP titled Live At CJSW, as well as a previous one called Set Pieces, and according to the band, they're currently working on a full-length debut set for release some time in the new year.

"Liver and Tan" is a wonderfully arranged song that uses layers to the band's strength, patiently intertwining intricate guitar work, haunting piano and some spirited kit work that immediately tells me why Bradford Cox and company approached them to open the shows. The slow build is dramatic yet never becomes tiresome, and when it introduces some vocals, it picks up but doesn't go all predictably Arcade Fire and become some cathartic eruption. Instead, BRAIDS let the song unravel like Stereolab would by keeping it so warm and beautifully controlled throughout. Not everyone needs to bottle up and explode and I think to be able to pull that off with the kind of music they make is pretty remarkable.

Relocating to Montreal will certainly be beneficial for a band as adroit and creative as BRAIDS, considering how many of the artists from that city have flourished and gone on to do such amazing things

http://www.exclaim.ca/articles/generalarticlesynopsfullart.aspx?csid1=128&csid2=804&fid1=34777 - EXCLAIM! magazine


"Music"

Mark Hamilton, Calgary Herald
Published: Friday, February 08, 2008
I have to get two things off my chest right away: 1) The Neighbourhood Council is so young--its four members are barely legal, but they are musically wise well beyond their years. 2) The Neighbourhood Council is also Calgary's most exciting and forward-looking band. And last month they celebrated just their first year of playing together, already a full 180 degrees from where they started.

So what's in a year? When we first heard from the Council, they were fresh off a deserved win at the '07 Calgary Folk Fest youth songwriters' contest. By June they were playing one of the inaugural Sled Island Festival's finest sets, followed shortly thereafter by a packed appearance at the Folk Fest itself. Half a year later the Council of '08 bears little resemblance to the plucky five-piece that appeared on Prince's Island.

"The old songs all came from a bedroom, and it's all completely moved away from a bedroom now," says 18-year-old Raphaelle Standell-Preston, who more often than not handles lead-vocal duties (all Council members take turns as the front-person). "It's a collective, and that's why it's changed so much--we've gotten to know each other better."

A democracy of sound in action, the group moved from its earliest indie-pop charms and dove headfirst into the sonic territories mined by the likes of Animal Collective and Calgary compatriots Azeda Booth. The results, captured on the new CJSW Sessions EP, are incredible: not only is one of the best local CDs in recent memory recorded live on college radio and packaged in paper sleeves, individually spray-painted with hand-written labels, in just four songs The Neighbourhood Council packs in more brilliantly executed ideas than some bands manage across entire albums. And it all comes off with effortless glee.

The opener, "Of People," is a flawless experiment in sound and structure--five minutes and 43 seconds during which it's practically impossible to keep still. For Standell-Preston & Co., the possibilities are endless. "We all know that we can go a lot deeper," she says, "and we have the ability and connection with each other to do that."

The Neighbourhood Council plays Thursday, Feb. 7 at Broken City as part of the R.A.M.P. showcase; see Clubs, Pages 9-13.

The CJSW Sessions EP is available at Melodiya Records (2523A 17th Ave. S.W., 246-8916) and at the band's shows.

- Swerve Magazine


"The Old & New: Piano Magic and BRAIDS"

Some of the most talent musicians in the world remain practically unknown despite an abundance of quality material. There is no concise explanation for it, even if the most common response is related to the lack of accessibility in actually obtaining the music. It simply proves that recognition, while beneficially attributed, has little merit in determining an artist’s level of talent or commitment. Today’s feature chronicles two artists at dramatically different stages in their music careers. One, Piano Magic, has been producing quality music for over a decade with an undeservedly low amount of recognition, while the other, Braids, consists of four 19-year-olds who are just beginning to discover what the music industry is all about. For better or worse, it is certainly a process worth experiencing. One can only imagine the words of advice a group like Piano Magic could give Braids; it would surely be an extraction of wisdom. Regardless of experience though, both groups have recently released an excellent EP worth mentioning...

...As I make the transition from a well-traveled group with dozens of releases and several international tours to their name to a four-piece where not even one member is of legal US drinking age, one must keep in mind the developmental process of a band. Piano Magic alternated their lineups before they became stylistically comfortable, leading to a prolific number of quality releases that any musician would respect. When listening to Braids and noticing their prevalent talent, I can’t help but wonder how they will evolve throughout the coming years together, perhaps both stylistically and personally like Piano Magic. To date, the only change they have made pertains to their name (from The Neighbourhood Council to Braids). Listening to their self-released EP, Set Pieces, though, neither their approach nor make-up would benefit from a change at this point. Whether you are referring to 19-year-olds or 49-year-olds, the material presented here is startlingly innovative enough to captivate audiences whether they have prior knowledge of the band’s teenage status or not. When given Braid’s average age, one may have a tendency to make a generalization in regard to their sound. Generic indie-rock perhaps, as an ode to those conventional pop bands that everyone knows and loves? For our sake, it is quite the contrary. Not only are the able to craft 7+ minute experimental-rock epics with ease, but the ideas, songwriting, and high quality of performance are all aspects that truly define what it means for a new act to strive fearlessly for creativity. After opening for acts like Deerhunter and Times New Viking, it seems as if a few of the most prestigious names in indie-rock feel the same.

Just like Piano Magic, Braids are beginning their young careers ambitiously with a style of experimental rock music that demonstrates their unwillingness to conform to a conventionally appealing, radio-friendly atmosphere. Luckily for them, their approach is within the same realm as adored contemporary artists like Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, Atlas Sound, and other staples of indie-rock that have found momentous success through extremely innovative means this past decade. They recorded Set Pieces live at the University of Calgary’s radio station and released it in late June, though fans are just starting to catch on after this month’s release of another EP, Live At CJSW. The opening track on Set Pieces, “Liver and Tan”, is pure 9-minute goodness. A twinkling guitar progression carries the initial strum and a steady rush of percussion eventually increases in complexity and involvement. Light piano chords supplement the onslaught until about a minute in, which is when the piano abruptly replaces the guitar as the leading force. The guitar then reverts to a series of slide patterns, leading the way for each instrumental accompaniment to become involved in equal form.

The major transition point in “Liver and Tan” occurs at 2:15, when a serene break in rhythmic instrumentation commences a three-minute build-up that later introduces several overlapping vocal melodies which brilliantly usher their way in toward the instrumental accompaniment. The vocal delivery sounds like a tribal chant of sorts, and I can’t help but saying that the vocals remind me of what it would sound like if Régine Chassagne (Arcade Fire) attempted to imitate Avey Tare (Animal Collective). There is no real imitation here though for the Calgary natives, as the entirety of Braids’ EP is sprawling with original ideas that lead me to believe that this group is easily one of the most promising out of the already-fledging Montreal music scene. Oh, by the way, check out “Lemonade” on their MySpace. It may be my favorite one yet from this promising four-piece. - Obscure Sound


Discography

- Live At CJSW EP [released in November 2007]
- Set Pieces EP (live at CJSW) [released on June 21, 2008]
tracks include: liver and tan, she brave soul, chaos and the dark, marlin, and vendevel

Photos

Bio

Braids, although routinely classified as experimental pop, can be found exploring the depths of ambient melodies and experimental textures. Their nomadic approach to music allows for an nontraditional and free creative vision that is distinctly their own. The band's captivating energetic live performance is demonstrated on their first two live self-releases. Their manner of influence varies from the diversities of worldly and tribal music, to their friends in local acts. Enamored with range, the group treads the waters between quiet humble jams and the overflowing myriad of full-bodied sound. When together, it's clear the friends are in continuous closeness with inspiration. BRAIDS, formerly The Neighbourhood Council is a four piece band based in Calgary, Alberta and Montreal, Quebec.