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Ear to the Ground: Braid’s “Bang”

The seminal post-hardcore/emo quartet puts out its first album in 16 years—but don’t call it a reunion.

There was a time near the tail end of the 20th century when being “emo” didn’t mean piercing your eyelids and swooping your hair over to one side like some kind of mall-goth Donald Trump. We’re talking ’93, ’94, and ’95, when bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and the Promise Ring were helping put the genre on the map. Formed in Champaign, Illinois, in 1994, Braid was another seminal post-hardcore/emo outfit, but by 1999 its members had disbanded and gone on to form the Firebird Band and Hey Mercedes.

Since then Braid has flirted with reunion shows every blue moon or so, but their 2011 EP, Closer to Closed, sounded more forced than inspired. Fast-forward to 2014, and No Coast marks more than just the band’s first full-length album in 16 years—this time it’s a proper return to form.

“Bang,” the first leak from No Coast, proves the quartet’s chemistry has aged better than a lot of things from the ’90s. Guitarists/singers Bob Nanna and Chris Broach inflect their vocals with palpable passion without resorting to the sorts of histrionics that other emo outfits managed to turn the genre into a byword with. And all the while, their 6-string syncopations slither along rather innocently before rising up and transforming into walls of gritty-toned guitar, stopping and starting with the switch-flicking precision that old-school college-radio DJs were born to love.