Brand New’s brand new album Daisy has been getting a lot of press recently. It’s the fourth album from the chameleon-like group and is another one that will polarize fans.
Brand New are enigmatic band to say the least. The music you hear on Daisy sounds NOTHING like the songs from their 2001 debut, Your Favourite Weapon. That fresh-faced record consisted of loud pop-punk with mild emo overtones (not hardcore – even though they were friends with Glassjaw). It’s not really my bag, but it’s not a terrible record either. In between that album’s release and it’s follow up, Deja Entendu, a lot changed. The ’emo’ scene blew up, in more ways than one. Lots of Brand New-alike bands popped up (Taking Back Sunday, Fall Out Boy etc) and the band started to grow up.
Charismatic frontman Jesse Lacey had also been listening to a shitload of Bright Eyes, too. It was evident in his hushed, confessional style of singing and in his smart, caustic lyrics. Brand New were the first band from their scene to slow things down and explore musically and to basically veer from the beaten path a little. That led to the album being labelled a ‘masterpiece’. It also pushed Lacey into teen heart-throb status and the group into the limelight.
In fact, Deja Entendu is not a masterpiece. Far from it actually. It’s half a great album and it’s best moments are the ones that were different from the band’s usual music. The bitter, brutally honest rant of Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis set to a gentle strum of a sole guitar, the barely controlled anger and double tracked vocals of Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades and the intricate indie rock of Jaws Theme Swimming were all highlights. The rest was just a good album of hard pop-punk, with genuine emotional undercurrents and huge hooks.
After touring their arses off in support of Deja, the band then got really interesting for serious music fans. They signed to a major label, Interscope, and then disappeared for 3 years and did no press. Rumours circled that they were finished as a band, and that Lacey would go on as a solo artist. Then they released The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me. The result was an amazing transformation for the band. Sounding more like grunge artists like Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam, they had taken on a hard-edged, dark sound, with sparse ruminations on God and death replacing the emotional rants of old. Unsettling post-punk and Radiohead-influenced melancholic guitars were order of the day. It was universally acclaimed and sold well.
And now they return, with another album that goes in different directions for the band. Firstly, a warning: this is a difficult album. A dark, some would say depressing tone hangs over these songs which often erupts into aggressive bouts of squalling guitars and screamed vocals. And it’s AMAZING. Old-school Brand New fans seem to think this is an ‘unlistenable’ album and contains no ‘hooks’. All I can say is fuck off. If anyone has listened to and liked Nirvana (Bleach/In Utero days), Fugazi or Pearl Jam will dig this album.
Beginning with an old record of a woman crooning, opener Vices storms into town and becomes the most aggressive, fucked up song Brand New have ever put to tape. From there, the record switches from slow burning torch songs (Bed, You Stole) to full on scream-fests (Gasoline, Sink). I urge you to pick up this album and stick with it. It’s a huge leap forward for the band and I believe it’s the best thing they have done. Here’s a sample:
It’s taking over my life. I am Batman. When I got to the Batcave I came a bit.
2. Brand New’s brand new album Daisy has leaked. Is it any good? In a word, AAAARGH! Which means yes. To the fans who wanted more Deja Entendu and less The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me: tough luck. On first listen, the dark, grungy feel of their last LP continues unabated, and the album is all the better for it. It’s hard to believe this is the same band that made Your Favourite Weapon.
I’m not gonna post any songs cause it’s not fair on that super-sensitive soul Jesse Lacey. But if you want to hear the tunes, they are not hard to find. The Hype Machine is a good start.
3. Frank Turner, a man I have waxed lyrical about in the past on this blog, released his third album, Poetry Of The Deed this week.
I’m in the process of downloading it just now and i’m psyched. The Road was a great lead single and was supported by a fantastic video which documented Turner’s batshit insane attempt to play 24 gigs in 24 hours. Somehow he managed it, using what I can only assume is some Jedi magic. Check it out here. Make sure you watch the ‘Making Of’ too, it’s great. Find that here.
4. Randomly stumbled upon this video of Bon Iver performing Skinny Love in Paris.
What makes this video unique is a simple element: it is shot from behind the performer. This seemingly basic switch makes the viewing experience totally different; as we see how the people react to the flow of the song. It’s a beautiful setup in a small room with candles and all that jazz, but the best part is watching the kids just getting into it. We actually don’t get a look at Justin’s face whatsoever. And listen for the drummer’s harmonies: dude is rocking a Prince style falsetto.
5. Been watching a few Golden Era Simpsons episodes recently. Rocked the one with John Waters today, and totally forgot about this scene. All you need to know is that Homer is afraid of gays, and believes Bart is becoming one. So, naturally he takes him to the most testosterone-fuelled workplace he can think of. Hilarity ensues:
6. The Guild – Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?
You may recognise Felicia Day from the infamous 13th episode of Geek Overlord Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. Before she got that sweet gig, she wrote and starred in The Guild, an online comedy for gamers by gamers; if you have any knowledge of game-chat at all then you will get the myriad tech gags that are the shows lifeblood. Other non-game-specific geek references abound in a similar style to it’s clear forefather, the show of a generation; Spaced.
Do You Wanna Date My Avatar? is an advertisement for the upcoming third season, available on YouTube. You don’t wanna miss it!
Very rarely is it the case I leave the cinema as happy as I did after seeing 500 Days Of Summer. Essentially a film about a relationship that doesn’t work out, it really made me reconsider the romantic comedy genre; and proved to me that Judd Apatow isn’t the only guy in Hollywood capable of making films that deal with love in a modern, non-ridiculous manner.
Both leads Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt do great, understated work throughout. Deschanel is all huge eyes and cute smiles, while JGL really pulls out his comedy chops. The two actors have real chemistry and it shows. Deschanel has been waiting for a while for a role to really pay off for her and this could be the one. It seems like so long ago that my spotty 15 year-old self fell head over heels for her in Almost Famous. I watched on anxiously as she gradually built up her profile in films like Elf, Bridge To Terabithia and Yes Man. It’s awesome to see her finally knock it out the park with Summer.
And Gordon-Levitt? His next film is Christopher Nolan’s Inception. On. My. God.
Wes Anderson is a cool guy. Immaculate dress sense, quirky cool films and a good looking and well connected guy in general. I recently seen The Darjeeling Limited again, and loved it far more the second time around. In the past I felt that with the exception of Rushmore, he sacrificed emotion for stylistic quirks. And there is a disturbing lack of good roles for non-whites in his films too. But not anymore. I felt he really treated India with respect and managed to draw a tender performance from a vulnerable Owen Wilson (who tried to commit suicide soon after filming). Adrian Brody and Jason Schwartzman are both awesome also, first bring the serious and the second bringin’ the funny.
Also, Limited contains the funniest line in any of his films; spoken by the aforementioned Schwartzman:
Roll on Fantastic Mr Fox.