Lucky To Be Alive
By: Eric G.
If you’re in high school and you’re not already a rap metal fan or a Goth and you have a soft spot for sensitive post-punk, then this might be your Frampton Comes Alive; otherwise, this is just another gratuitous live album (except its by emo’s poster boys instead of Pink Floyd). Braid made its mark fusing ridiculously overcomplicated riffs and changes with strained and warbled vocals, making the band sound even more frustrated than Jawbox, but, somehow, it struck a chord with a similarly frustrated legion of fans.
Lucky To Be Alive is the first of Braid’s posthumous releases, and it is an exact account of the band’s final show at Chicago’s Metro recorded late last August. Musically, Braid is only slightly more annoying than any number of post-punk, herky-jerky, calculated rock bands, but the vocals send the cringe factor into the red. Bob Nanna’s semi-melodic, belabored yelling is one thing, but when he tries to harmonize with Chris Broach’s uptight barking everything hits rock bottom.
Braid’s sound was a bastardization of Fugazi’s controlled rhythms and explosive vocals, but it was never as effective. Stretches of melody pepper each song on this live record, but the trappings of contrived post-punk expose the inherent posturing. Lyrically, Braid covered the sensitive-but-coy-but-also-clever ground with careful machination and, consequently, cemented the band forever into the much-maligned “emo” genre.
Lucky To Be Alive draws heavily from Frame & Canvas, the band’s last studio album, and Braid performs each song with energy and feeling. Admittedly, certain tracks are bearable, particularly “The New Nathan Detroits” and even parts of “What A Wonderful Puddle” despite its awful title, but the latter borrows a bit too much from Sonic Youth’s “Tunic (Song For Karen)” off Goo to stand on its own. Braid will probably and undeservedly have a bigger impact now that it has disbanded because a new breed of sensitive punk youths looking for a scene to latch onto is born every minute.