Braid: Lucky to Be Alive

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By Travis Mitchell

In the dog days of Summer 1999, on a day that was likely to be in the mid-‘80s and humid, four brash musicians walked into the Chicago nightclub The Metro, laden with equipment and prepared to write the final chapter of the band known as Braid. The band’s final act together would be to record their final performance to be released six months later as Lucky To Be Alive. Turn down the lights, pour yourself a drink, light a cigarette, crank the volume to near deafening decibels (with the pre-set equalizer settings on “Live” or “Natural” of course), sit back, close your eyes and you will be transported to the end of Summer 1999 and the end of Braid.

Lucky To Be Alive sounds so much like a live performance it is almost difficult to review it like an album as opposed to a live concert. After half a decade and more than 500 live performances, it is no surprise that Braid put on a near flawless performance to be witnessed as their final presentation and to be chronicled for all of posterity. Moving from one song to the next with only brief thank-yous and audience applause in between, the energy and ambiance that must have been present that night come through on this recording loud and clear.

This near-studio quality recording is impressive and my only complaint is, like in most club situations, the vocals don’t come through quite clear enough to be truly appreciated. Truely professional, Braid carries the album for almost exactly 60 minutes. The almost 30 seconds of pause between ‘Milwaukee Sky Rocket’ and ‘Divers’ where it sounds as if a guitar is being brought back into tune accounts for the same amount of time over 60 minutes “Lucky To Be Alive” runs (not including the last few seconds of applause).

If you are looking for a good record to crank up and enhance the atmosphere of your house party this is the one to buy; that’s where my copy is going. I just need to watch someone doesn’t try to use it as a drink coaster.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/braid-lucky/