A Season of Songs, Day 88: Ornamental

A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring.  I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up.  I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever.  Enjoy!

Today’s song is “Ornamental” by Braid off their 1995 “Frankie Welfare Boy Age Five” LP.

in a mother’s arms
she cradled me
she’s a match
and here’s a reason
to fear ignition:
ten to seven
left him waiting
this is control
my little ornament
spinning webs together
ripping them apart

Sometime in 1994-1995 I would first hear Braid.  I think it was my roommate Steve Yuletide who got some copies of the “Rainsnowmatch” 7″ for his distro at the time.  It was the song “Perfect Pitch” that would really grab me.  I don’t think I was completely sold on the band yet but they made a good first impression.  Over the course of that school year I would hear another song or two that appeared on some compilations and my interest was further piqued.

It would be the summer of 1995 when I would get to see Braid for the first time in a former slaughterhouse in Pennsburg, a short drive away from my parent’s home where I was back home living between semesters.  I was interested in checking out Braid, but I’m pretty sure my real interest was in seeing Kisses & Hugs and Fisticuffs Bluff.  If the complete list of Braid shows on their Facebook page is correct, Nuzzle and Milkwede also played that show.  I don’t recall Milkwede playing, who were friends from Lancaster, but perhaps they did.  Anyway, the winner that day for me was Braid.  They put on a really great show.  Their drummer was awesome (tho’ he would later leave the band and be replaced with another solid, though perhaps less interesting to watch, drummer).  I don’t think the “Frankie Welfare Boy Age Five” album was out yet, or they didn’t have it with them or whatever, but it would be awhile before I got to hear it.

“Frankie…” is an ambitious first record for a band.  26 tracks – one song for each letter of the alphabet.  As can be expected from a first album with 26 songs, the quality is up and down but overall it’s a nice listen.  My favorite song is “Hugs From Boys”.  “Ornamental” is pretty indicative of the general state of songs from this album – poppy with kinda precious lyrics.  This album gives a good foundation of what Braid would become over the coming years.

1996 would be the year that Braid would rule my life – they put out both the “I’m Afraid of Everything” 7″ and the “Age of Octeen” CD.  The 7″ would show off a slowed down, moody version of Braid.  The CD on the other hand would show off the full spectrum of Braid’s charms.  It has plenty of slower moody parts but also lots of upbeat parts and screaming.  I love(d) this album so much.  Over the years it has lost some of its appeal but it is still a great listen. In many ways, I think this record is sorta like that first Rage Against The Machine record in that it is a great record that portends an avalanche of less talented imitators.  Mid-90’s emo-core turned into late 90’s emo-pop.  It wasn’t a transition that I particularly enjoyed.

In the following year I would get to see Braid a couple times after this album came out – once at the Michigan Hardcore Fest and then in Pittsburgh at the Tompkins Square Riot Fest.  Both sets were amazing stacks of sweaty people singing along.  Some of those wonderfully transcendent moments that music used to give me.  Those are a bit few and far between these days.

In 1998 Braid would put out “Frame and Canvas” which I think took a little time to grow on me but has remained the Braid album that still sticks with me the most all these years later.  In recent years they’ve reunited for shows and put out another new album.  I don’t think I need any 2000’s Braid, but i’m really glad that 1990’s Braid existed.


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