Before Braille – The Rumor

Before Braille
The Rumor

It should come as no surprise that Before Braille are from Mesa, Arizona, not far from fellow indie-to-major artists Jimmy Eat World. Before Braille shares quite a bit in common with the now radio-faves JEW. First, Before Braille is taking a similar path, starting small and working their way quickly to a major label (or at least an indie label with major label distribution backing it). Second, both bands take their inspirations from the hardcore and post-hardcore scene but tone it down with more melodicism, drawing the emo tag. Third, Before Braille’s singer sounds a lot like Jimmy Eat World’s singer.
Now, comparisons may be helpful for a reader new to the band, but the bands themselves likely hate them. So let me make it clear that Before Braille is not Jimmy Eat World. There are enough similarities to draw fans from the more popular band to this one, surely, but Before Braille has their own sound, and while it’s not far from the other, they do differentiate themselves on this, their debut full-length. Before Braille are definitely going to draw the emo tag, yet their music is extremely slick and impeccably recorded, and it would not sound out of place on the radio alongside Hey Mercedes and Jimmy Eat World, even as it possesses enough of the qualities that make die-hard indie-emo fans like myself take note. Most important, the singer here saves even the more typical sounding songs. The vocals on this album – at many times multiple vocals working together – are extremely strong throughout.
There’s 15 songs here in 65 minutes, so you get your money’s worth with The Rumor. Not all are perfect, but many are quite excellent. “The Spanish Dagger” is aggressive rock, with chugging guitars and multiple vocals, and while it may verge a bit on the aggro-rock side, the chorus has this beautiful layered vocal part that totally wins me over. “Miracle Mile” more mid-tempo, and the vocals impress me here. Somewhere between Jimmy Eat World and Enon, there’s also a nice layering of lead and backing vocals that works well with the intricate guitarwork and even bits of piano. “Twenty Four Minus Eighteen” – pinpointed as “the hit” on the sticker on front of this disc – is extremely tight emo/punk fare. Its several changes, however, do help it stand out at times. I find myself often singing the line “celebrate Semper Fi / sic transit gloria!”, I have to admit. Female vocals add a nice touch to the rather peppy “After Arguments” and mix nicely with the male vocalist.
There are a few tracks that are too typically proto-power-pop/punk for me. “A Cinema Spine” uses a fairly standard beat and guitar progression and can’t quite be saved by the vocalist, while the acoustic “Split Lip Envy” sounds a bit like Green Day’s “Time of My Life” meets Dashboard Confessional. There’s a much more aggressive approach to “”Goodnight Quiet Noise,” as the guitars come at you full-blast and the vocals get more aggressive, but it does come off a bit aggro-rock. “When the Feeling Fades” is the most emo song here, making any Get Up Kids or Midtown fan happy, while “Abracadaver” seems to be the band’s offering to more attitude-driven punk fans. Things get a little samey through “Low End of Luxury” and “Arrive Alive,” but the tempo remains fast and driving, along the lines of Midtown or Piebald.
I don’t listen to the radio that often, but I wouldn’t mind hearing these guys on the radio in the same way that I enjoy hearing indie success stories like Jimmy Eat World and Hey Mercedes on the radio. These bands don’t sound like every other major label artist trying to tone down the emo thing for the masses, but there may be elements of similarity throughout that lead them to the airwaves. And good for them. There’s some fine stuff on here, and The Rumor is a pretty impressive debut.