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Stream: Deep Waters – “Visions in Flame”

I’m going to start the week on a much more relaxed note than I usually do. The latest release from the small-batch vinyl and tape label Already Dead released Deep Waters’ latest six-song EP offering as a limited cassette, as per usual, but has also made “Visions in Flame” available as an even more limited (only 25 produced) cassette bundled with a full color, hand-made book. You can check out the detail of the book in the video preview below.

The limited edition book looks to truly be an extension of the music. As a companion piece the design, with pictures of the American landscape deepens the country inflected folk that Deep Waters presents us with throughout “Visions in Flame.”

Specifically, the songs create a laid-back atmosphere that takes equally from the sound of Jason Molina and Canadian country-folk-rock band Cuff the Duke. The up-front vocals, somehow both perfectly mellowed and rough around the edges, are nicely contrasted with lush reverted lead guitar lines that emerge from the arrangements organically. The mostly instrumental “Holiday” opens up with co-mingled lead lines from steel string acoustic and reverbed electric before the vocals and ubiquitous supporting vocals enter, building up the texture little by little across the brief song, clocking in at just under two minutes.

The highlight across the EP are the perfectly executed harmonies. Take, for example, the opening track “Golden Flame;” the interludes interspersed between the verses add an affecting lift to the underlying rhythmically active foundation. The entire release seems to focus around these guitar breaks, maintaining a timbral similarity throughout. Such a focus is always something that I appreciate, it never fails to help an album to cohere, and this album is no different. The ambience curated across these six tracks, with the guitars and understated backing vocals occasionally backed with a delicately played piano, evokes the image of an intimate setting, perhaps in a small performance; or listening to the car radio on a cold fall day early in the morning down a quiet back road.

“Visions in Flame” is currently available from Already Dead tapes. You can listen to the entire album above and head over to Bandcamp to pick up the limited cassette with or without the special edition book.

Braid re-releases on Polyvinyl

Braid was a band from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois that can be categorized with other early 90’s acts with a guitar driven, aggressive sound. They have the energy and abrasive timbre of Snapcase, the edgy stop-start math rock leaning of Polvo and sometimes the catchy hooks of Husker Du. Their sounds also exploits the kind of jumbled mess of guitars and screams that are each freely exploring all the possibilities of a chosen melodic and harmonic line. Somewhere between near all out improv and solid structure the band seems to be most comfortable constantly pulling themselves off in all different directions.


The band’s debut full-length album “Frankie Welfare Boy Age Five” is packed with short bursts of energy that are contained within a rush of loud, boisterous songs fueled by an urgency of fast, distorted guitars careening through 2 minutes of screamed vocals. The tracks are broken up by the constant turning of a radio dial that is sometimes interrupted by short ideas that are faded up, but quickly turning to new songs. Braid cuts through the noise of the radio dial with a noise of their own.

Through “Frankie Welfare Boy Age 5” there are many straight forward aggressive punk tracks like “Summer Salt” which is 2 and a half minutes of hardcore punk. “X Marks the Hope Box” leans a bit more towards math-rock with its running guitar line dashing across the fretboard frenetically that is doubled by the drums in stop-start fashion that is continued with the track “Brass Knuckle Sandwich”.

Braid live
Braid live

There is a lot of content on the album, showing the band in a steady trajectory. They are stretching out within songs but remaining true to their hard core sound, standing on the very edge of math rock and early emo-core. At the Drive-In would later tread a very similar path with their work.

With “Movie Music Vol. 1” their work becomes a bit more polished. Songs are lengthier, more developed and structured into parts that fit neatly together, dovetailing with catchy hooks that are begging to be screamed en masse. The guitars on this album seem to stay out of the way of each other. More room is made for the bass, and dynamically the band is more in control. On this album they make use of a broader sonic pallet and embrace more of a loud/quiet/loud characteristic that is added to the stop-start urgency of their songwriting which makes everything that much more powerful. They make room for each other, take their time and even show a much more reserved and quiet side with the track “Radish White Icicle” with its gently strummed guitar and light brass arrangement in the background. All of this growth of songwriting results in a more solidified sound that is thicker and more reinforced instead of wandering. Despite this their sound in general remains completely intact and easily recognizable.

Braid - "Frankie Welfare Boy Age 5"

Through all of this noise of guitars and punk rock attitude there is an honesty and sincerity added to the music through vocals that are untouched by effects, standing completely out in the open, totally vulnerable. The recordings have that lo-fi, home-recorded sound to them that is lacking in today’s uber-commercial and overproduced “emo” music. Braid’s music was not of gimmicks and trend, it was music of honesty and emotion before those elements became a musical commodity.

The fact that Polyvinyl has seen it fit to re-release each of Braid’s albums speaks to the importance of their output. They come from an era of music just before it was easy for word to spread through the internet. Their success was purely word of mouth built upon a reputation of touring and recording, yet their influence on other bands can still be heard today.

Braid - "Movie Music Vol. 1"

For more information on Braid, and to hear tracks, but most importantly to purchase their re-releases (which are nearly 50% sold out!) head over to Polyvinyl right now.