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Before Braille

Before Braille’s “Cattle Punching On a Jack Rabbit” is an amazing album. How amazing? Well, Before Braille has Rajiv Parel in it. If you’ve ever heard Parel’s solo work, you know how amazing this album has the possibility to be. Instead of being mellow, as in his solo work, he rocks out with the help of his bandmates. The results are truly electric.

The vocalist/lyricist here is brilliant. He’s one of the best vocalists in emo today, and that’s a big honor, seeing as there are a million bands in emo today. Every one of these songs presents emotion by the volumes in words that no one has ever used before: “You’ve signed your name and you’re stuck with us, now you’re regretting it?/You’ve got a square where a circle is, is that how your puzzle fits?/You bite the hand that is feeding you? You dumb ungrateful kids!/We’d rather starve if that’s the way it is,” from “We’re Not Paying for Anything Anymore.” As you can see, there are a lot of words there, and that’s because he spits them out at a rapid-fire pace, creating a blazing trail that will leave you raising your fist and screaming along or scratching your head, left in the dust. This is invigorating material. This is the stuff emo kids live for.

Parel’s guitars are as crazy as ever, with note-intensive riffs flying all over the place in mathy, hardcore bursts. These aren’t solos; These are hooks. You can’t even imagine what a Parel solo would be like.

The rest of the band supports in a fantastic way, providing charging rhythms and crushing backdrops. The bassist is powerful and tasteful, and the drums aren’t punk hyperactive like you’d think. They’re fast, but their drummer isn’t a lightning-snare one-trick pony.

As for the songs, they score on various levels. “Proventil” defines the emo anthem: overflowing emotion, pounding riffs with enough math in them to make your old Calculus teacher happy, fantastic yelled/sung vocals, and an energy that makes you want to move. But just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, they sprung “Well as Well” on me, where they take the emo anthem and up the ante by incorporating jazz. Yes, they have a cornet, a saxophone, a piano, and a clarinet in the climactic finale of this gem, stretching emo in ways it has never seen before.

But that’s not even the best song. In fact, it is the shortest song here that is the best: “We’re Not Paying for Anything Anymore”. This anthem is the best emo anthem I have ever heard, upping “Proventil” with better lyrics, more passion (as if anything more were possible), and a lyrical hook that will leave you breathless.

Before Braille is the new school emo. Their passionate lyrics, blazing delivery, intense guitars, and murderous way with a hook will blow your mind. This is one of the best releases I have ever heard, independent or not.