Braid's Todd Bell, Chris Broach, Damon Atkinson and Bob Nanna (Mitchell Wojcik)
Illinois’ Braid, along with emo stalwarts the Get Up Kids, the Promise Ring, Sunny Day Real Estate and Jimmy Eat World were considered by many to be a pillar among the second-wave emo scene that was on the verge of commercial success in the late ’90s.
The year was 1998 and Frame & Canvas, the band’s seminal third album garnered them critical and commercial success. Despite the many accolades and praise that came with the album, internal fighting and nonstop touring eventually tore founding members Bob Nanna and Chris Broach to the breaking point and eventually spelled the end.
Braid was a band that should have been as huge as Jimmy Eat World is today. But sometime life can give us second chances, and on their new effort, No Coast, Braid have produced an anthemic and memorable album that was 16 years in the making.
Time heals all wounds it seems, as Nanna and Broach have crafted a mature and refined version of their influential sound, while also branching out into new territory. The first thing you notice after your first listen of No Coast is how genuine the sound is, not saying that it’s genuinely produced, although the production on the album is very well done, but the album itself feels like something that could stand next to Braid’s ephemeral yet incredible catalog.
Opening track “Bang” begins with a gorgeous blend of Nanna’s and Broach’s guitar lines interweaving and dancing around the melody before crashing headfirst into a wall of guitar and anthemic choruses. The musical chemistry between the Nanna, Broach and the returning rhythm section of Todd Bell on bass and Damon Atkinson on drums is felt in every track.
“East End Hollows” and the title track, “ No Coast,” have an energetic and contemporary feel that dispel the notion that with age comes a slower and softer musical agenda. There are no filler tracks or unnecessary songs throughout the album’s collection of 12. “Many Enemies” is a stand-out track that features great vocal interplay between Nanna and Broach, along with memorable hooks and melodies.
“Pre-Evergreen” and “Lux” are probably the strongest tracks on the album. Beyond sounding like traditional Braid songs, the tracks have almost a latter-day Foo Fighters sound. The lyrics on “No Coast” are as impassioned and heartfelt as anything in the band’s repertoire and showcase a more mature side of Nanna and Broach’s songwriting abilities.
This is the album that fans of this under-appreciated yet massively significant midwestern rock band have been waiting for. The overall spirit of collaboration that was once lost for the once young proponents of emo rock has been rebuilt though time apart. They say absence truly makes the heart grow fonder, and that fondness is felt throughout No Coast. It is an album that is both nostalgic and exciting in its freshness, rooted in rejuvenation rather than reunion.
Top Shelf Records
Available July 8
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