Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Artist of the Day: Anchor & Braille

Side projects are a curious thing in the music industry. The true motivations of the side project are often unclear- is it for money or personal fulfillment- and the quality of the material is often much weaker than that of the parent group. However, once in a blue moon, there is a solo project that sacrifices the opportunity to grab more money from fans in favor of musical exploration and personal fulfillment. Anchor & Braille, a collaboration Anberlin vocalist Stephen Christian and multi-instrumentalist Micah Tawlks, is one of the rare side projects that actually seeks to delve deeper into the music and explore more of the spectrum.

While Anberlin is easily identifiable from its straightforward guitar riffs, bright keyboard lines and high-gloss production, Anchor & Braille is nearly the complete opposite. With a sound that's reminiscent of The Antlers and lyrics that were deemed, "too personal for Anberlin," Christian and Tawlks craft nifty dream-pop with threadbare vocals and the lyrics to match. His voice reaches unprecedented height on Anchor & Braille's most recent album, The Quiet Life, with songs like "If Not Now When" sounding like a stripped-down version of classic Anberlin song "*fin." It's always been obvious that Christian carried Anberlin as a group and had very little wiggle room for personal improvement due to genre constraints and Anchor & Braille is where he can go to show off his true talents. Although this project is far from groundbreaking, it's a starkly fresh and unobstructed look at the mastermind behind one of my favorite bands. Instead of relying on Christic images and metaphor, Christian draws more from personal experience and is intriguingly transparent with his words. Is this band as good as Anberlin? Probably not, but with a little more artistic identity they certainly could be.


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