Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Before Braille-Balance and Timing

February 1, 2005

beforebrailleBand Name: Before Braille
Album Name: Balance and Timing
Best element:  New Sound, Old band.
Genre: Rock/emo
Website: http://www.beforebraille.com
Label name: Sunset Alliance/Bad News Bear Records (www.sunsetalliance.net, www.badnewsbearrecords.com)
Band e-mail: info’beforebraille.com

Before Braille is ridiculously prolific. They’re constantly releasing LPs, EPs, MPs (it stands for mid-play; not short enough to be EP, not long enough to be LP), splits, and other assorted tracks- so much so that I can’t even keep their discography straight in my mind any more. Nevertheless, I’m not complaining- because whatever Before Braille is on to, it’s not fading. Their sound continually shifts, yet they always turn out quality work.

Balance and Timing contains 4 original songs (although “Merry Christmas, I’m Cheating” has two tracks dedicated to it- a rock one and an acoustic one) and two ‘bonus tracks’ from an LP that either hasn’t been released yet or has slipped through my fingers (Tired of Not Being Away From Here). These four original songs are a departure from the reckless emo charge they so fearlessly embodied with the Cattle Punching on a Jackrabbit MP, as they pick up acoustic guitars and relay an overbearing sense of remorse instead of the slashing, crunching riffs of that previous release.

It works on all cylinders, from the moody acoustic slush of “Limb from Limb” to the delicate arrangement of “Help is on the Way Now” to the hollow versions of “Merry Christmas, I’m Cheating”. It’s hard to tell which version is more haunting- the heartless, robotic tick of the electric version, or the hopeless, grasping-at-straws feel of the acoustic version. It feels like Brand New on downers with more credibility. The vocals, so thrashing and sneering on their emo epics of the past, create melody beautifully on these simple, tired tracks, resulting in some brilliant songs. I wish they would make more music like this, as it’s simply stunning.

The two ‘bonus tracks’ are standard Before Braille emo repertoire (much to the happiness of this reviewer). They know how to pack the emotion into a song, through manipulation of tempo, vocal tricks, and guitar antics- and it’s great to see that they’re not abandoning their excellent home base for their expanding repertoire. To their credit, the two songs do sound much more mature than the sometime misguided anger on Cattle Punching…. The second vocalist on “Camera Disdain” sticks out especially, as he infuses passion into the song through his vocal contributions.

Overall, you need to know about Before Braille. While this is a great offering by them, it’s not too indicative of their style, and if you’ve never heard of them, I’d go for Cattle Punching… instead. But, if you’ve heard Before Braille, you need to grab this EP. It’s just amazing to see what the Braille boys can do with some time in the studio and some extra song ideas.

-Stephen Carradini

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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