After forming in Calgary in their final years of high school, the four members of Braids thumbed their noses at higher education. Instead of taking the path towards college, they devoted their collective energy into making music and circumnavigating the potentially awkward period between youth and independence with vigorous aplomb.
Shedding their initial, rather clunky name, the Neighbourhood Council, somewhere along the road between Calgary and their newly adopted Montreal, Braids have embraced their new-found freedom and allowed themselves the opportunity to grow, transform, and become the band they want to be. With the release of their first, self-recorded and produced album Native Speaker earlier this year, on Flemish Eye in Canada and Kanine in the US, it would seem that Braids are settling into their skin quite comfortably without denying themselves the fluidity to continue evolving.
Since forming in 2006 Braids has received consistently positive attention from media and bands alike, beginning with a standing ovation led by Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox and a spotlight write-up from the music blog Stereogum. Despite their irritation at constant Animal Collective comparisons, the link does hold some weight when considering Braids’ richly layered, inclusively experimental approach to their instruments and sound. A second similarity emerges when the four Braids members – Raphaelle Standell-Preston, Austin Tufts, Katie Lee and Taylor Smith – speak of the strong friendships and bonds, formed in high school, that exist within the band.
Singer and guitarist Standell-Preston’s dynamic vocals are reminiscent of Bjork in their forceful yelps and shy seductions. She comes off as a young woman greedy to taste all that her new world offers, primarily the opportunity to choose, for the first time, who you are, what you want, and what the hell you’re prepared to do about it.