Braids: Canada’s newest heirs to Arcade Fire’s throne

Two years ago, Calgarian dreamers Braids were stranded without a scene to call their own. Lucky for us, the quartet upped sticks and set off for Montreal, in noble pursuit of sweet rock’n’roll – well, that and a half-decent uni education.

Today they’re as chilled as Ariel Pink’s lunchbox; taking a break from frantic rehearsals for debut album ‘Native Speaker’’s launch, the laid-back brooders bristle with fresh-faced excitement. Just don’t lump them in with 2010’s crop of ‘dream-pop’.

“I don’t really associate myself – or ourselves – with those bands,” drummer Austin Tufts ponders of the likes of Beach House, Ariel Pink and Zola Jesus. “But it is dreamy in the sense that it’s pretty visual, cinematic music. I think if we reassessed what the term ‘dream-pop’ means, then yeah.”Suggesting we redefine entire genres in their wake may seem like cocksure buffoonery, but then this is no ‘grit-pop’.

Since settling into their new hometown, Braids have been furiously burrowing their niche – into a scene a-clutter with everything from neo-trad-folk like Les Cowboys Fringants (that’s The Frisky Cowboys to you) to such underground curiosities as Arcade Fire. Keyboard player Katie Lee was happy just to escape Calgary.

“One of the biggest things for me was to have a show in a venue that wasn’t a bar,” she laughs, “It’s just like a whole other feeling – it felt more familiar and that’s played a very big part in our music.”

Rest assured, her modesty was left at the studio door. As the name suggests, Braids are masters of weave – fragments of Nordic-folk, Animal Collective-psychedelia and even contemporary classical intertwine, in an opalescent patchwork of criss-crossing riffs, tribal drums and four-part harmonies.

But if the thought of eight-minute soundscapes has you reaching for the Horlicks, be warned: Austin holds no stock for your ilk.
“You don’t know if you’re gonna lose your attention before you listen to the song. I don’t look at a song’s length. I put it on and if I like it, I like it.”

Words: Jazz Monroe

Need To Know
• Katie wanted to be a dancer when she was growing up
• Braids' first gig was at a high school battle of the bands. They lost to a Red Hot Chilli Peppers tribute act
• Austin and guitarist and lead singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston have been best friends since Seventh Grade

This article originally appeared in the February 5th issue of NME

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