Braid was a band that really struck a chord with people. Reviews, from throughout the six years the band was together, read like diary entries or personal testimonies, with writers using various means to get to the same point, that Braid’s music was a key part of their lives, music that really meant something to them. Braid’s 1998 album Frame and Canvas especially brought extreme praise, and for good reason: it was a beautiful record. I can understand people going out of their way to praise Braid. They took the aggressiveness of punk, pure pop melody and the kind of personal lyrics that by their nature strike a universal chord, and made it all into something special.
Much of the magic is heard on the two volumes of Movie Music, both compilations of hard-to-find songs from 7"s and compilation albums, plus a few previously unreleased songs. Though these albums were planned long before the band broke up, their timing makes them perfect vehicles through which fans can reminisce.
Volume One is for songs from singles and split singles, and Braid sure had plenty of those. The CD includes 17 songs, stretching in time from their first 7”, 1994’s Rainsnowmatch, to “You’re Lucky to Be Alive,” the last song Braid recorded, in May of 1999. The fact that they’re arranged chronologically makes this feel even more like an historical overview, since you can hear the band’s sound progressing, getting clearer and tighter as the CD plays on. This sort of compilation is a wonderful thing, especially for fans too poor to buy every 7” that comes along, or for fans who catch on late in the game, after all the singles are out-of-print and selling for a fortune. Volume One is filled with great, loud rock songs. The nature of the ordering system does make it less cohesive than their studio albums, and therefore harder to get through all at once, but it’s still great to have all these songs in one place.
Volume Two, a collection of songs from compilation albums, including six cover songs,strikes me even better than the first. It’s partly because the covers, of songs as varied as Billy Joel’s “My Life” (the Bosom Buddies theme song) and the Pixies’ “Trompe le Monde,” are a whole lot of fun, played with a goofy energy. But it’s also because, for whatever reason, the songs on this CD just seem better to me: more energetic, more melodic, more together. The rock songs are faster and the pretty ballads are prettier, though with Braid the great thing is how that dividing line is blurred mid-song. Both of these CDs spotlight the qualities that made Braid so special to their fans. This might not be the most immediately accessible introduction for new fans, partly because of the sprawling nature of the collection, but for Braid lovers, this is heaven.