If you are a fan of punk rock music and you hear the word "Minneapolis,” one band would probably inevitably come to your mind: the cult group The Replacements. However, you do not really need to look at the past to find a healthy and creative music scene in that area, and Braver stands definitely as a solid testimony to that fact. Braver sounds somewhere in between the constant sonic assaults of bands like The Descendants and the melodic sensibility of more recent groups like Alkaline Trio, producing a straight-forward and familiar, yet personal and original sound.This is real punk rock, played loud and fast and straight from the heart. The production on the record is really simple (think about the latest Descendants record and you get the idea), and I mean it in the best possible way. I was quite impressed as the entire album was done in their basement. It feels like the ability and power of the band is captured with fidelity, blinking an eye to the organic controlled chaos of a live setting as opposed to the hyper-quantized approach that can be heard on a lot of releases these days.
Stay Busy! features 12 tracks in between pop punk and melodic hardcore: opening triplet "Yea,” "How The Midwest Was Won" and "Stay Busy.” "Yea" is a ridiculously catchy song that ends before it starts but feels like the perfect length for the type of music they are playing. Lasting an entire minute and nine seconds "How The Midwest Was Won" is immediate and reminded me of some of the early 90's punk bands I used to and still love. "Stay busy" meditates on the theme of death as they ferociously attack their instruments sounding a bit similar to the blood brothers at times.
The mid section of the record steps aside from the darker melodies for a while, to focus on a more classic approach – and by that I mean songs based on in-your-face 3-4 chord combinations, without many octave leads and other nuances. The band even takes the time to slow down on a song like "Nose Lotion,” before going full circle back to hard hitting punk rock music, until the closing number "All my Friends.”
Aside from a couple of production issues this album has definitely all you want to find in a good punk rock record, and Braver is a great punk rock band with lots of energy and a handful of great songs. Do yourself a favor if you have any interest and check out their album Stay Busy! if you are interested in hearing a punk band that combines a technical ability and gifted songwriting that makes for a winning combination.
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