I first heard Bad Braids last summer, the night before I was supposed to leave for a month long tour with Folk to Folk. It was one of those hazy August nights where everything felt spooky. My room was already packed up, all my things in storage, and I was already feeling a little anxious, so I biked over to Dreamhaus to catch one last Allston house show before setting off.
Mike Bruno and Bad Braids were playing. They were two gloomfolk musicians on tour from Philadelphia, where they had roots at a house venue called Dreamcastle. Liz Pelly, who lived in Dreamhaus, had met them while on tour with Quilt a while back.
Bad Braids was on first. Bad Braids is really just Megan Biscieglia and her guitar, but Megan has one of those rare voices with the power to totally captivate listeners and transform a space. Megan weaves intricate vocal melodies that twist and build and arc, as if she is telling a story. Her lyrics mainly act to supply sensory details, but the actual narrative is in the vocal line, which gives the music a universal quality. Zone into it and you get the feeling that she is singing in another language and that language is old and magic, full of deep woods and dusk, folk spells and enchantment.
Later, Mike Bruno played, conjuring mossy forest spirits with his theramin. Between the cozy kitchen vibes, the dark trees rising up around the dreamhaus porch, and the dreamy summer night, Lower Allston began to feel like it belonged less to the city of Boston and more to New England, not “historic” but truly old, unknowable, heavy with secret ghosts.
A wolf-eyed girl in attendance told us that she was a shaman, or at least a shaman’s apprentice. She asked us if we wanted to find our spirit animals. We did. She beat a drum, led each person down a hole in our consciousness, where something powerful could find us. I think something did.
When I came back to empty my room, I laid out a sleeping bag on the floor and played the cassettes I had picked up and felt the music melt into the creaks of my haunted home and it felt right. And after, leaving started to feel right as well.
Bad Braids’ new album, Supreme Parallel, is out May 1st on Haute Magie, but you can pre-order the digital version and the CD. Supreme Parallel will be out on cassette & vinyl sometime in the future. Bad Braids and Mike Bruno are going on a month-long European tour starting May 11th.