I Could Cry Right Now If You Wanted Me To album cover (photo by Jessica Gurewitz)
The debut album from Brooklyn-based band Razor Braids has been several years in the making. Hollye Bynum, the lead vocalist and bassist, taught herself to play in 2017 after being confined to bed with an injury and put together the band over the next couple of years. Their debut single “Nashville” was ready to go by 2020; unfortunately, as many bands did, they encountered difficulty during the pandemic, having to downgrade their single release to a livestream from an anticipated show at Baby’s All Right and cancel their planned East Coast tour.
Razor Braids refused to be daunted, and used the positive response to their single as the impetus to record their debut full-length, I Could Cry Right Now If You Wanted Me To. Like many indie-punk bands who look back to the 90’s, Razor Braids have embraced the gospel of fuzz and melodic, layered vocals. Yet they keep that fuzz and vocals from turning into a totally distracting wall of sound, sometimes by backing off, at other times by employing a different mix in the left/right channels to split things up.
Rather than simply alternating lyrics and lead, Janie Peacock’s guitar lines often continue underneath. Jilly Karande is on rhythm, and there is a nice interplay between the two guitars. Having a bassist sing is always a treat in my opinion (I’m biased) and Bynum doesn’t fight against herself when playing, but also doesn’t keep it too simple, laying down a pleasing rhythm section along with drummer Hannah Nichols, who also offers beat changes to keep you engaged. There is even a bit of country twang on songs like ”I’m A Blackhole (and you’ll never get out)” and “42,” the epic closer.
“Not Dead, Not Yet,” the intro track, features a good thumping beat to draw listeners in. “No, I’m not dead, not quite, not yet,” the lyrics assert. Throughout the album, from “Sex In The City” (”we all have our places to hide”) and “White Noise Machine” (“turn on my white noise machine, too scared of what’s in my head”) there is a sense of working through something, especially regarding relationships. And maybe they haven’t reached a solution, but as the title indicates, perhaps Razor Braids could cry, but they don’t seem ready to give up yet.
Razor Braids performing in 2019 (photo by Kate Hoos)
For me, the highlights are “Not Dead, Not Yet, “I’m A Blackhole,” “Boy,” and “White Noise Machine.” I must credit the band for excellent tracklisting on this album; they don’t allow for dead spots, and the opening and closing tracks are perfect bookends.
The band has spoken of their connection as a group and the power of female friendship, and that connection definitely comes across in how tightly-knit the music is. Their Instagram bio says “just a few gals who need some fucking help,” but Razor Braids seems to be helping each other out just fine.
I Could Cry Right Now If You Wanted Me To is available now on all streaming platforms.