Posts Tagged ‘Raphaelle Standell-Preston’

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Braids have been taking the time and space necessary for little miracles to occur. Burrowed in their Montreal studio, the band has spent the better part of three years crafting “Shadow Offering”, their 4th album, due out in June 2020 via their new label home, Secret City. On Braids’ fourth album, Shadow Offering, the Montreal art-pop trio is at its cleanest and most refined. They teamed up with producer Chris Walla, who teases out the rockier side of their tunes, turning the group’s taut synth reveries into glistening and forceful songs that tackle topics like abuse and desire and self-hatred. Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s voice is dizzying; she presents her fears not as a persistent dull ache but as something that is going to rip her apart from the inside out.

Unlike previous albums, Braids decided to stay close to home for the recording of Shadow Offering. Taking over a spacious sound recording studio tucked in an old warehouse, the band were able to slow down and creatively rediscover themselves. “With this album, we wanted to give ourselves time to achieve a higher caliber of artistry and collaboration,” Tufts says. No longer riding the novelty of youth, the band deliberately took time to recommit to themselves and their craft, and channel new energy into their music. They wrote 40 songs. They went through their Saturn Returns. They learnt how to support one another better. They drank a lot of La Croix.

The band sketched and re-sketched new material for eighteen months before lucky circumstance found Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) renting out space in their studio. The four began wandering into each others’ rooms, curious about each others’ projects. Typically opting for a private and insular creation process, the friendship between the four saw the band sharing their songs with Walla, and naturally resulted in Walla co-producing and engineering Shadow Offering. Pushing the band out of their comfort zone, he at once broke and unified the band’s dynamic, unearthing individual creative energy long buried over the years. With a new sense of confidence, listeners will find Braids at their most personal, unabashedly flexing through their new music.

Braids are a Montreal-based, three-piece band. Formed in 2007, they have solidified a decade-long reputation for their musical ingenuity and established themselves as one of Canada’s most acclaimed art rock bands. With Standell-Preston’s vocals as the pillar of their sound, Braids weave organic and electronic elements together amidst a lyrical landscape that is intimate and emotionally-immersive

Braids

Prior to recording “Shadow Offering”, Braids’ continued intentions were to manipulate guitars to the point of being unrecognisable. Indeed, they have since admitted they felt they had succeeded once the guitar was hidden between layers of textures, loops and effects.

On their fourth full-length LP, the Canadian group have made a conscious choice to bring guitars to the forefront of their sound again. They rediscovered the instrument as a “vehicle for cathartic release, drawn to its visceral and authoritative qualities,” and were keen to embellish and utilise its imperfections and the spontaneity it can bring to a performance or recording. Montreal-based indie trio Braids will release their new album “Shadow Offering” on June 19th via. Co-produced with Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie, the album finds the band at their most personal, unabashedly flexing a new sense of confidence through songs that reach a higher level of artistry and collaboration.

New single ‘Just Let Me‘ explores the push and pull of a relationship, the narratives created between partners, and inevitable hardships of love. The accompanying video features singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s directorial debut with collaborator Derek Branscombe.

“The song was born of a desire to get through to one’s partner, to work through those feelings of complacency, stagnation, of pointless arguments; when you feel your partner, though sitting across the table from you, is further away than if they were not there at all,” stated the band. “It’s a yearning to understand how a love that was once there and so clear, could slip away. It asks the universal question that so many relationships encounter along their journey – where did our love go?”

With former Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla in the producer’s chair, they entered into a new world of experimentation, utilising a plethora of equipment from Audio Kitchen amps, a 1967 Rickenbacker 340 and a 1963 Gibson LG-1 to masses of outboard gear and a reamping chain that included multiple rack units including an Elysia Mpressor for live sidechaining and even tremolo and phased vibrato effects.

A multi award-winning band, Shadow Offering follows their acclaimed 2015 album Deep in the Iris – which won the 2016 Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year – and could be considered their most honest and intuitive yet. Here, the band detail their five favourite guitar parts on the album, from discovering chorus pedals to using their drummer as a rotary speaker…

Eclipse marked our first taste of the front-and-centre roll the guitar would come to play on this record. While tracking, we were uneasy over what elements would lead the mixes, and how a myriad of instruments and sonic explorations would all glue and fit into songs. We never recorded a record this way – producer at the console, amps and live tracking sessions, capture over construct. It required a leap of faith on our part, something a group of three highly strung control freaks admittedly struggled with.

With Eclipse, Chris and Raphaelle experimented ad nauseum with wonky open tunings for deep and resonant chords. We also discovered chorus – something we foolishly avoided for years. With Chris’s guidance, we coloured outside our comfort zone. Listening to the first mix draft was a decisive turning point in our process. After months spent chasing an ephemeral ‘idea’ of what guitars might bring to our songs, we finally developed the film so-to-speak, and the image staring back at us was bold, expansive and all-encompassing. Needless to say, we were pleasantly reassured that what we were striving for was possible.”

Snow Angel

“At once jarring and visceral, tracking for Snow Angel was also a moment of joy, of exalted discovery. After laying down the song’s basic structure, Raphaelle had asked to be set up in the live room on a whim, amps pinned, for a few takes of unscripted overdubs. It was a moment of flexing and experimenting with the musicality of an extremely loud amp. And for Raphaelle, the birth of an emotional conduit just as immediate as the human voice, to provide emotional armour, and a violent counterpart to the album’s most confessional and raw poetry.”

Fear Of Men

“This song is Austin’s shining guitar moment. Austin doesn’t play guitar, he plays drums and as such had a spare hand to lend during our guitar tracking sessions. With the amps cranked, we set him up in the live room – heavily earplugged – and got him to be a real live rotary speaker. Microphone-in-hand, he spun around the room in his best ‘flanger’ impression, and the resulting audio is about as bespoke a ‘swirl’ effect as one could hope for.”

Young Buck

“We mixed Shadow Offering in our Montreal studio. The studio has two rooms – control and live. We spent a month mixing, and a typical day saw Chris [Walla] and Mike our mix engineer in the control room working on a mix, while we spent the day in the live room, chasing all sorts of extra parts for second verses and second choruses, intros and outros.”

“We’d reconvene once in a while to share progress, listen to mixes, and trade song progress back and forth. We’d been battling with the groove in Young Buck, struggling to get the mix to lock. Upon listening to the n’th rough mix, it suddenly came into focus. Through sheer relief, we didn’t ask too many questions at the time, and it was only while digging through stems, long after the mixes were wrapped, that we discovered Chris had clandestinely been tucking layer upon layer of palm muted guitar parts into the mix, gluing the song together.”

Just Let Me

“Stories and process and memories aside, Just Let Me is our favourite guitar ‘moment’ on the record. At every step of the way, the song is structured around creating this luscious and blooming key change, centred on two interlocking guitars. If at the outset of this record we wanted to take a swing at guitars-as-centrepiece, this is the moment in which we unapologetically enjoy the fruits of this journey.”

Shadow Offering is out June 19th on Braids Musique Inc. and Secret City Records. Braids’ new album “Shadow Offering”

Montreal trio Braids are releasing a new album, “Shadow Offering”, on April 24th via Secret City, but this week they pushed it back to June 19 due to COVID-19. On Thursday they also shared another new song from it, the nine-minute “Snow Angel,” via a Kevan Funk-directed video for the intense track. It’s an epic song that takes on social and political issues that are all the more relevant in this current crisis. “Should I even have a child at all?/This world is full up,” questions singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston in the lyrics. “I want to be a mother/But I shouldn’t bring in another.” It takes on global warming and the role all of us play in destroying the planet. If you want to get lost in the madness of the current moment, this is the song to turn to.

Standell-Preston had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Snow Angel’ was written in the immediate wake of the 2016 US election, as our collective conscience took a sharp inhale. It’s a diary entry of sorts—a snapshot of the mind grappling with our era’s endless barrage of content and destruction, continents away and close to home. *This* moment, with our world in the midst of a pandemic, is admittedly a new context. But I can’t help but sense the song speaks to feelings many of us are experiencing—uncertainty, angst, and a desperate desire to make sense of it all.

“For me, it was deeply therapeutic to write and sing this song; saying things out loud can help us to not feel so alone, can help validate our natural fears about the future of our world, and can bring to light some of the hard questions that many of us are asking ourselves. I believe that art can change our relationship to fear. We hope this song can offer you a moment of catharsis and relief, in the same way writing and performing it has for us.”

Shadow Offering includes “Eclipse (Ashley),” a new song Braids shared last December. When the album was announced the band shared another song from it, “Young Buck,” via a video for the track. Shadow Offering was produced by former Death Cab for Cutie guitarist/producer Chris Walla.

Summing up the album, Standell-Preston had this to say in a previous press release: “There’s more hopefulness in this record than anything else I’ve written. I think the songs are more human, more tangible, more honest.”

This is among my favourite song of 2020 here. “Snow Angel” by Braids is an outstanding masterpiece, not just due to the fact that it’s over nine minutes long (which marks a new record in my personal ‘song of the year’ history). The Canadian indie art rock band has been on my radar for a few years now but never fully clicked with me. But this song – wow. It already got this great driving notion at the beginning and leading lady Raphaelle Standell-Preston really carries the song. But about four minutes into the track she ignites a spoken-word-reflection on her life on this planet and it when I first heard that part I think I heavily teared up because that moment sums up all the feelings many people in my generation have these days on our planet, the corrupt political system, environmental apocalypse, depression, capitalism, media consumption, ultimately resulting in Standell-Preston asking whether she should actually bring a child into this world. You really feel the desperation in those moments before the track is off to a furious finale, only to break down again. This is triumphant musical story telling, a song that needs a moment but one that perfectly captures the overall feeling of 2020.

Braids’ new album “Shadow Offering”

There’s something new about Canadian band Braids. Since bandleader Raphaelle Standell-Preston shared her experiences with sexual abuse informed a song called “Miniskirt,” you can’t help but approach the Montreal group’s compositions with ears freshly sensitive to that courage.  More than ever, musicians like Braids and statements like their new EP Companion are what the country needs to keep hope.

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Listening to the project though, the futility of binding Braids to one event, niche, trauma, or sound becomes clear. The four songs were started during sessions for the band’s 2015 album Deep In The Iris. “At the time they felt separate to the songs that made up “Deep In The Iris,” the band wrote in an email, “strong in their own right, but left as unknowns to a larger compositional work.” Companion is not a collection of orphan tracks: all four songs lean into the same progressions in songcraft and unbridled energy the band discovered on Deep In The Iris.

Braids “Companion” EP
Out 05/20 on Arbutus Records / Flemish Eye

Here’s one case in which it is: the beautiful minimalist synth backdrop of Companion, over which Raphaelle Standell’s remarkable voice flutters between Elizabeth Fraser on Massive Attack’s Teardrop and Björk when she’s feeling an emotion really hard. Which is about the highest praise it’s possible to give a vocalist. If you don’t get chills, you must have killed before, and you probably will again.

Recorded at the same time as last year’s phenomenal Deep in the Iris, Braids’ Companion is its perfect, erm, companion piece. Here we have four songs that showcase the band’s perfect interplay between twitchy drums, deeply layered arrangements and Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s soaring whispy vocals.