Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More Songs To Learn And Sing #6

Nobody commenting this time around? Ah well. Six down already, and next to step up to the mark and let loose in a musical sense is David off of Stop Clapping, Start Doing:

Braid - Forever Got Shorter

Before I get started, I’m going to offer a brief aside on that pesky genre 'emo'. Having existed in various forms since the mid 80’s emo is currently used to describe smarter than the average pop-punk bands. In the mid to late-90’s, the term emo usually referred to bands from the Midwest of America who were playing a more thrashy version of indie-rock. So, when I use the word emo, this is what I’m talking about. I don’t mean Fallout Boy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I first came across the name Braid when I was still in school. I had been listening a lot to a band called Spy Versus Spy, who were apparently an emo band. I had never heard anything like it and my 17 year old ears wanted more. The only help I had was a distro list from a small label called Subjugation (don’t look for it, it’s not there anymore). They had released both Spy Versus Spy albums and the only comparison they ever got was to a band called Braid. After several months of dial-up speed, pre-Myspace internet I managed to track down Braid’s third and final album Frame And Canvas. I listened to it pretty much non-stop; it never left my cd player. It featured everything I loved about Spy Versus Spy but it did it so much better. It had the dual, out of tune vocals, the twinkly guitar parts, the slightly clunky teenage lyrics about girls and being in a band; at the time, it was pretty much my ideal band.

Over the next couple of years, and over increasingly faster internet connections, I got hold of Braid’s full back catalogue. As was the trend in those days, Braid released a slew of 7"s, split-7"s and compilation tracks, guaranteeing them instant indie credibility. Given the limited number of these pressed, most of these records are fairly hard to find, unless you have mad bank to spend on eBay or a girlfriend who understands the wonderful world of online auctioning. Thankfully, all those long OOP records have been compiled together onto two cds, namely Movie Music Volumes One and Two. Today’s song, Forever Got Shorter, is taken from the first of these cds.

As you could probably guess, this song is about a girl and a doomed relationship; this is emo after all. More specifically, this song deals with the issue of a long distance relationship and the effect it has on the protagonist’s (singer Bob Nanna) musical output. The song kicks off with the wonderful couplet of "Let’s go undercover like young lovers should/Cause I can kiss you better than this letter could". Sure, it sounds fairly soppy and twee as hell, but I imagine most people can relate to the sentiments of being away from a loved one and only being able to communicate through print (remember this is pre-internet, people). In fact, I’m certain Belle And Sebastian have come out with much worse things than that and I bet you like them. However, rather than bemoaning the situation, as you would expect from your typical indie-rocker, our singer celebrates it, claiming that "frustration can be gorgeous" and treats it more as inspirational experience ("the lips I kissed now shape songs of sadness"). If anything, this song makes good of the dead relationship, which is always a refreshing change.

As the guitars play off against each other, stopping and starting whilst the drummer rolls around his kit, the song builds to a big, triumphant finish; if you were watching them live, it would no doubt require lots of finger pointing and singing along; at the very least, it would require the emo chest tap/head nod. The final chorus is the big pop hook; pop in an indie-rock way - the guitars and drums thrash about, the singing is strained and out of tune but there’s still enough of a hook to sing along.

But make sure you’re singing about girls. This is emo after all.

The complete collection

1 comment:

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