Friday, February 22, 2013

Braid / Balance and Composure - Split

Braid / Balance and Composure - Split
Label: No Sleep
Release Date: February 26, 2013
When Jay-Z and Kanye West came together for 2011's Watch The Throne, it was a proverbial passing of the torch. For Jay-Z, it was a veteran giving the nod to his once young and promising producer turned hip hop's Machiavellian man. For Kayne, it was a celebration of his ever-so-spectacular climb from being one of the decade's most notorious pop stars to an era defining titan.

For any suburban kid who grew up with a mixture of the what's what in the blogosphere and a crate of his really cool older brother's records, Balance and Composure releasing a split with Braid might just be as significant as Watch The Throne. Balance and Composure is a band who's every move is applauded by just about everyone from the kids who wear A Day to Remember hoodies to pop punk shows to the bearded brethren who haven't been to a non-basement show since 2004. Braid on the other hand have had a much less glamorous last few years. Once upon a time, Braid was the defining emo band of the 1990's. They're the band most likely to get name dropped by any number of kids who Wikipedia'd "emo" to prove someone on an internet forum wrong. For Pete's sake, they wrote Frame and Canvas, which is plenty reason to realize that maybe this band was doing something really well for a really long time. Fast forward to 2011, and Braid has Closer to Closed under their belt. This is an album that's more or less universally hated. Some old school emo punx dude told me that it sounded like "Braid ripping off a band ripping off Braid" which I feel is pretty accurate. Hell, even Pitchfork felt the need to hash out a couple hundred words to describe just how shit the album is.

So I suppose that this might be a changing of the guards in the emo punk world. Or it might just be two bands celebrating each other. Balance and Composure celebrating one of the bands who contributed to their existence and Braid giving credit to a young band who seems to be doing everything right.

Luckily for everyone, both bands hold their own and then some. On "You Can't Fix Me", Balance and Composure continue their evolution towards their unique blend of throwback 90's alt-rock with a modern, scathing touch. This sounds like a song that would've fit in just as well back in 1994 as it does in 2013. And that's saying something considering the number of 20-something years olds who picked up Nevermind this past year and decided to never not wear flannel and write mid-tempo zzz-jams. "Say" is a riffier song with messier drums and calmer singing. It's an excellent compliment to the previous song, a more straight-flowing A-Z song. While only two songs, Balance's effort here is nothing but the obvious continuation to 2011's Separation. If anything, this is just a taste at how excellent whatever they put out next will be.

While Balance & Composure put on an excellent side of the split, the slight upper hand goes to the vets here. Braid is back to form with two new songs. "Lux" is a poppy mid-tempo jam sung carried by Bob Nanna's hooky melodies. "Many Enemies" on the other hand incorporates clean, almost twinkly leads juxtaposed with dirtier punk rhythms. Although these songs were released this year, it's obvious that this band's sound has been a huge impact on just about any emo band in the last five years.

All in all, this split is two bands coming together and writing a solid, coherent record. It's the new with the old, the young and rising with the winding down vets. Balance and Composure remind us why they're one of the most hyped bands of their genre, and Braid proves that Closer to Closed was probably an anomaly and they still have some left in the tank.

7.75/10

Recommended if you like: Any emo band since 1994.

Preorder via Braid's merch store

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