Wednesday, August 20, 2014

BRAVE RADAR "Message Centre"
(Fixture Records)


Brave Radar hails from Montreal. This brief, yet full-length cassette marks their first release in five years. I was not previous familiar with their work.

The band’s sound is best described as Bedroom/Dream-Pop. However, it does not quite fit the same bill as The Antlers, or Beach House. First of all, it is safe to listen to without being mistaken for someone who moved from Greenwich, CT to Brooklyn and after two months is already claiming to be “from” New York. (very important side note: having been to Connecticut, I empathize with their embarrassment but seriously…fuck those people).

What sets Brave Radar apart is that the “Bedroom” in their sound isn’t a bedroom like, say, someone from Connecticut grew up in. It is a pile of cardigan and ironic sweaters in the corner of a basement, separated from the rest a tapestry that has been traveling via duffel bag since it’s owner dropped out of college. Best case scenario, the auxiliary (liquor-wreaking) couch in a living room with a sleeping bag shoved behind it during waking hours.

The “Dream” isn’t a dream like Kurt Vile or Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV might express through effect-laden guitar leads. It is not a continuous, lucid and romantic dream world where the one-that-got-away shows up out of the blue, you turn menial events into vaguely sexual activities, possibly kill each others parents, use the insurance money to hire Tom Verlaine to play your wedding, have an episode of Law & Order based on your story, and after waking you have to spend all day reluctantly convincing yourself (through the tears) that it didn’t actually, and never will, happen. Not that kind of dream. Sorry. These Dreams are like the ones you usually have – fragmented, disassociated, almost humdrum but through a surreal lens like in a French film.

Teasers of melodies, near-surf guitar riffs, and wholeheartedly passive vocal stylings make this tape a pop-minimalist’s delight. The vocals (from dual, male/female vocalists) are perhaps the subtlest element of all. They are perfectly audible and clearly pronounced; yet melt so well into the music that you could conceivably miss them if you’re not paying attention. This is by no means a drawback, rather it is inline with the iconic Ferris Bueller quote…I think it goes “Life moves pretty fast sometimes, but if you rig up your room like a Rube Goldberg device your principal will break into your house and assault your sister” or something like that.

The songs themselves are just as restrained as the vocals, almost like they’re running through a set at a secret practice to see if they can get away without their lead guitarist. When the tempo picks up, they get catchier and almost sound like a punk band that had to resort to practicing in the uncool parent’s basement.

There is a definite bouncy element at play her as well. Not ‘bouncy’ like a pogo stick but more like a partially deflated kickball. Not great for throwing a runner out at home but still plenty good for kicking. Fans of Blanche Blanche Blanche, Chris Weisman, and those who long for a tamer version of Deerhoof or a less ambitious version of Low, are sure to get a kick out of this cassette.

http://braveradar.bandcamp.com/

-- Travis Long

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