For all the music bloggers that like to make those popular lists of bands to watch in 2011, here’s one to add to your roster: Braids. We’ve been extremely hyped on Braids ever since we received their tracks, “Lemonade” and “Plath Heart” in 2010. And when we found out they were playing a show here in L.A. with Baths at the Troubadour on March 5, we were ecstatic!

The young Canadian quartet is just barely our of high school, but they have blown my mind with the maturity of their music. Their debut album Native Speaker, was just released on January 18 (in U.S.) via Kanine and it is brilliant. Braids consists of: Raphaelle Standell-Preston on lead vocals, guitar; Austin Tufts on drums, vocals; Katie Lee on keys, vocals; and Taylor Smith on bass, guitar, drums, vocals. At a young 18 years of age, the band unanimously decided to skip out on their college education to pursue their goal of creating a full-length album. After relentlessly practicing in a cold garage in Alberta, Canada, Braids embarked on a journey to Montreal where they crafted their self recorded/self produced debut album, Native Speaker.

Their music not only brings forth a fresh and unique sound, but it is absolutely gorgeous. Leading lady, Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s vocals soar with powerful emotion, all the while still sounding sweet and angelic. At times her vocal style resembles that of a young Bjork. Perhaps one of the most beautiful tracks on their seven-song debut LP is “Glass Deers.” The songs opens up with a hypnotizing repetitive intro that some may find a bit annoying as though they were in a time warp. But after about two minutes of this oddity, beautiful chimes and delicate strings come into play along with Preston’s soothing cooing. But don’t let the beauty and grace of this song fool you; there’s some serious potty-mouth action going on here. Listen to the quick whispers that sing: “I’m fucked up.”

Braids delivers amazing harmony mixed in with some fiery build-ups and breaks with beats that pulsate through your body. Take a close listen to Preston’s whispering vocals and you’ll fall in love with her tales of lust and wanting that all comes off so innocent (and totally adorbs). Blending a variety of textures and arrangements to form detailed layers of sonic bliss, each song is superiorly crafted averaging over six minutes and never coming in under four. These kids would make Animal Collective proud!

With diverse harmony making every song exclusive to its sound, Braids still exudes that pop catchiness to be remembered. They craft their work in a meticulous style where it doesn’t become that pestering pop tune that dwells in your head. It’s more so an emotional signature or melody you’ll recognize and immediately harness a craving for more such as in their opening track “Lemonade.”

After the many 2011 releases I’ve listened to thus far, Braids are at the top of my list. These kids are seriously remarkable in what they’ve created. This is the kind of band that should be performing at Coachella 2011.

You can stream Braids’ debut album, Native Speaker, here and purchase it via Kanine here. Don’t sleep on this band! Buy your tickets to Braids show at at the Troubadour with Baths here.

Words: Sandra Burciaga

Artist: Braids
Album: Native Speaker
Label: Kanine
Release Date: January 18, 2011

Similar to: Arcade Fire, Bjork, Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors