Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Scenester Guide / Captain Chanute Reviews Braids' Native Speakers

There's a lot of potential action for scenesters today, so let's hit a few highlights.

If you're a genteel dandy (like us), or even a dandy fop, you'll have your eyes on the Kentucky Derby today. Harbour Lights claims to have the "official watch party." Can they make a nice mint julep? Because we plan to drink eight of them.

Scenesters who love a rock and roll spectacle will probably shell out (again) to watch Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes' wear a dress and perform bizarre sketches with costumed creatures at Liberty Hall this evening. But they were so badly upstaged by Janelle Monae last time around that we're passing in favor of some politically conscious Bronx hip-hop at the Jackpot from Rebel Diaz.

"Liberate the Free State," says the press material for Rebel Diaz's early evening show, and the Jackpot's cover charge promises a "sliding scale" to ensure that no one has to miss the action for lack of funds. We better not see any scenesters opting to get in free and then spending 20 bucks on beer or we'll perform a citizen's arrest! And isn't pretty much every night's cover at the Jackpot based on a sliding scale depending on who you know and how hip you are (and whether or not anyone's actually at the door to take your cash when you walk in)?

Is wrestling hip these days? Metro Pro Wrestling makes its debut in Larryville tonight at the Lawrence Community Center: "Hardcore Legend "The Human Wrecking Ball" Pete Madden will be back in action for the first time in 2011!" (

Chip: "This seems to be the evening's likeliest opportunity for a brawl to break out that results in scenesters being hit with chairs. Count me in."

And at the Replay: US Beefheart. We have no idea what this is, which immediately makes it the hippest option. Perhaps a local Captain Beefheart tribute band?


Montreal's Braids scored a brief mention on the LC during this year's SXSW, when we criticized them for their pre-show ritual of group hugs: refresh your memory here.

Today our friend Captain Chanute (who normally only listens to Duran Duran) drops by to offer a more fair and balanced look at their album Native Speakers. This is his best work yet. Enjoy!

"If you're still reeling from the dearth of new material from Animal Collective, the dearth of song breaks between mediocre Arcade Fire efforts or the dearth of non-soundtrack material from Broken Social Scene, today may be your lucky day. A new, hip aura is emanating from the Great North that is likely to swallow us all up with its delicious harmonies and pop-genius melodies. That aura is of course the debut effort from Canadian newcomers, Braids. Hailing from Montreal (after a relocation, a name change, and oh yeah, a high school graduation), Braids is a quartet of babyfaced androgyboys and a delightfully cute lead singer that reportedly formed during a conversation over a blueberry muffin (goddamn, we have too many readily-available yet mundane details in this internet age).

Native Speakers, released in January, is an album of varying complexity: multi-layered in its melodies, sinusoidal in its vocal excursions and both mesmerizing and poignant in its lyrics. The Guardian (UK) reviewed it favorably, saying its pop is delivered through a “shoegaze haze.” Indeed, the album leaves one in a dreamlike state, floating effortlessly from track to track in a glassy-eyed bliss. The dream hyperbole is quite played out in various online reviews, so the current one will avoid any further redundant lullabic insinuations or Freudian interpretations.

At 7 tracks, Native Speaker is relatively short though it displays deft range. Vocals at once reflect a hollowed and metallic Bjork (“Lammicken”) and also a girlishly-intoned pleasantness (“Plath Heart”). Guitars range anywhere from old (and just barely acceptable) U2 to the curious (yet mostly annoying) bleeps and bloops of some of the more inebriated Leotards jam sessions (“Same Mum”) while the keyboards tread a softened line, displaying a nearly feminine quality, like the Postal Service.

All in all, this is a fine musical effort. At once superficially pleasing in its pop simplicity and satisfying in its melodic and lyrical profundity, Braids is a well-rounded yet hip, young consortium with a bright future. If you're not already a fan, you must be a lost internet wanderer whose search engine brought you here after searching the keywords “high school,” “swallow” and “girl.” Either way, you'll be hard pressed to dislike this loveable contingency that group-hugs before every show, much to the chagrin of your apathetic and impassive scenester compatriots."

1 comment:

The Unknown Hipster said...

Nice stuff from the Captain!

I would like to review the yard party that the members of Of Montreal had on the patch of grass between Liberty Hall and the Lawrence Journal-World building. Some were stretched out on plastic yard furniture and others were sitting on the bed of a Dodge Durango. All were drinking beer and snarking away at passersby.

I had to walk around those pretentious morons a couple times during their yard party. I ignored them. They thought I was walking up to talk to them, and they gave me some dirty looks. Then I threw the gigantic bag of trash that I had in my hands into the dumpster they were sitting nearby. Then they started to look at me like, "Wait. Why aren't you trying to talk to us?"

Nothing bothers hipsters more than when the person you're trying to ignore ignores you. UH: 1, Of Montreal: 0.