Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Curious Case of Brand New

Jesse Lacey is a master of torture. A Brand New storm is coming, and the fans are ready to embrace it. It has been a strange month or so for Brand New fans, and it all, oddly enough, started back in 2006 with their album The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. You may be wondering how something that is 9 years old become relevant and cause chaos, but allow me to explain. Back in 06, if you bought the physical CD of Devil and God, the booklet it came with contained no lyrics. Instead, it was just a bunch of random pictures and odd quotes and lines of words which may have seemed like a bunch of mumbo jumbo. The interesting part is that there was a page at the end of the booklet that said if you send one dollar to this address, you would be sent a lyric book at some point. For 9 years, people thought they wasted a buck, or even forgot they sent in for these booklets altogether. What seemed like a waste turned into a very procrastinated gift from the musical Gods when out of nowhere, people started receiving the long lost lyric books a couple of weeks ago. From pictures online, it looks like people received the booklet, a dollar, and a flyer for a future cassette tape of the Fight Off Your Demons demos (more on that later). This immediately sparked intrigue in the hearts of Brand New fans, who have been waiting for a new album since 2009’s Daisy, which many fans tried, but failed to embrace like the previous three albums.

The problem with Daisy was that it got kinda weird. Fans of the first two albums, Your Favorite Weapon (2001) and Deja Entendu (2003), fell in love with the heartache and angst that Jesse Lacey was feeling at that point. The band grew up and made their 3rd album, Devil and God, and although it was not the emo-pop-punk of the previous two, the music was kick-ass and deep enough that it still pleased the masses of fans. Three years later, Daisy came out to much hype, but in the end I think it was hard for people to wrap their heads around. We have all been waiting the comeback/make-up/redemption album, the back to basics album, the best album. Brand New fans are incredibly loyal. I can’t think of any other band whose fans take bits and pieces of news about the band (much of it rumors, since Brand New rarely does interviews) and immediately seek answers and hope of new music. Brand New fans care almost too much, and with the mysterious nature of the band, it has been a torturous month.

Around the same time of the lyric books being sent out, Brand New cleared out their Instagram account, and posted a picture of the band on a couch, with Jesse Lacey a blurred figure. More speculation followed just from that one move, but shit really hit the fan when they played a show in Denver soon after and opened up with a new single, called ‘Mene’. Youtube videos like the one below started racking up the views and it seemed as if the new album was upon us. In true Brand New fashion, they didn’t acknowledge the track and the end of Mene turned into the start of the next song, ‘Sink’. Not only were fans glad to hear of a new song, but it sounded like pre-Daisy Brand New! It was fast! It had a bit of a punk feel to it! Thank the good lord almighty! Brand New is back! Irytyoihglkjlksldjkf! Mene was here, and then it became a free download on their new website for 24 hours, before going up on iTunes and then Spotify the following day. Although there was still no word of a new album, the fans were pleased.

Just when ya think it couldn’t get much better, last night out in LA Brand New played a show with a solid setlist playing a lot of songs spanning the whole career (except Seventy Times 7, but that’s a blogpost for another day), and one song for the encore. Normally, Lacey comes out solo for the encore and plays either Deja cut ‘Play Crack the Sky’ or, if you’re really lucky, Your Favorite Weapon…favorite, ‘Soco Amaretto Lime’. Most were expecting one of these, but they turned out to be wrong the in the best possible way: a second new song called ‘Sealed to Me’. Jesse Lacey played by himself on stage and gave the world a new slow jam of a Brand New song, and by the sounds of the youtube videos, it’s pretty damn good.  Also intriguing was that they were handing out lyric sheets for Sealed to Me at the merch table.  Judging by Mene and Sealed to Me, this looks like the album most fans were expecting to get after Devil and God instead of Daisy. Daisy was disappointing, but I think Brand New fans forgave them and still shelled out money to see the Daisy tour, because they know just how mysterious and unpredictable they are.

My fear with Brand New was that Jesse Lacey desperately wanted to become the Smiths of the 00’s. The Smiths frontman, Morrissey, is one of Lacey’s idols. Lacey used to tape ‘Hi Moz!’ on his guitar at shows, and he has even recently started to tie a bunch of flowers on his mic stand like Morrissey would. If you haven’t listened to the Smiths, they were basically emo before emo of the 80’s. Their songs aren’t very cheery, but musically they were amazing and they produced great songs. You can certainly tell that The Smiths and Moz had an influence on the music of Brand New, which is perfectly fine. The thing about The Smiths that had me worried about Brand New was that they were incredibly short lived. The Smiths were formed in 1982, released 4 albums between 84-87, and then they were done. They haven’t played a show in almost 30 years now, and they famously have said that they never will, which is a damn shame. Daisy was album number 4 for Brand New, and with the lack of news and now 6 years in between, I think it was fair to get a bit worried about the uncertainty.

Nature at Coachella

Uncertainty is something that has been a problem for Brand New fans since Daisy. I saw Brand New play a late afternoon set at Riotfest in Chicago back in September of 2013, and rumors were flying rampant through the crowd (they had one of the biggest crowds of the entire 3 day festival) that they were breaking up and this was the final show. This was even mentioned to me by a friend of a friend who I only knew as ‘Lawyer Danny’ (I think he was in law school at the time and was named Danny, if memory serves) who tried getting a t-shirt, only to learn from one of Brand New’s merch guys that they had completely sold out of stuff, and when asked about the rumored breakup, the Merch Man shrugged and said “who knows, probably”. People were a bit on edge, but the band came out and played a great show with thousands and thousands singing along and moshing and savoring the moment like only Brand New fans can. There was a buzz around the show, angst and tension was thick and people wanted to unleash. People wanted to get out their feelings, frustrations, praise and emotions through one band, and it happened. There are few bands as captivating as Brand New on stage. Our fears turned out to be nonsense as they played a show a week later, but the uncertainty stuck around. Now we are looking at a new album. Who would’ve thought.

There has been no official announcement of the new album, which may be scary, but we need to keep faith as fans. That whole uncertainty thing? It’s very real. When making Devil and God, some asshole leaked 9 songs from it, which were all untitled, and they became known as the Fight Off Your Demons demos. As nice as it is that these 9 songs were leaked at the time, it was not as nice when Brand New got so pissed that they scrapped all the songs and started the album over virtually from scratch. Brand New beats to their own drum, which is noble, but also frightening. With such intrigue surrounding them, you know there may be people trying to find and leak stuff, which at this point would be a shame. In this way, the secrecy may be a good thing, and the album could appear at any minute, which would be fitting for them. I’m looking for a mix of stuff on the new album. As much as I’d love another version of Deja and Your Favorite Weapon, it is simply unrealistic. They are not the emo punk band of 2001 anymore. They have grown up and deal with different issues than girlfriends cheating with best friends. I expect it to be much more normal than the weirdness of Daisy and maybe not quite as serious as Devil and God. If you were to mix it up between Deja and Devil and God, I’d say it may be the safest prediction, and that would be awesome if it is right. The other great possibility? If there is a new album, that means there will probably be a new tour. Times are exciting in Brand New Land.

Sealed to Me lyric sheet

For this blogpost, I asked a bunch of friends to describe Brand New in one word, I got the following: angsty, angsty, angst, dark, raw, transcending, conflicted, fleek, irritating, angstyheaven and angstmazing. They are all accurate, even if I hate you Jom for using ‘fleek’. Brand New gets your emotion running. Jesse Lacey was heartbroken and stabbed in the back back in 2000 and it ended up giving the world a shitload of great music. As teens who have grown up, we know what Jesse Lacey was going through, and we appreciate someone being the spokesperson for this generation. Kids my age (yeah, we are still kids) appreciate their music because we feel like our generation is messed up. No one can relate to what we’ve gone through, with the rapid changes in technology, social media, heartbreak and the struggles for the pursuit of happiness. Jesse Lacey has become the Morrissey of this generation, and that’s perfectly okay. Kids growing up in the 80’s adored Morrissey, and kids of the 00’s adore Jesse Lacey, even if he confuses us. All I know is that I have faith in whatever is in store with this new album. I think it’ll blow us away and it’ll make people realize just how big of a deal they are. While it may be a time of confusion and torture for Brand New fans, I feel like it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Special shoutouts to: Paula “Sprinkles!” Tran, Steve “Skeeter” Sheridan, Kyle "The Fixer Upper" Towne, Sully, Julie “OMG” Strano, Andrew “The Worm” Chace, Tom “Denim Coat” Silva, Kristen "BoBo" Borowiec, Rachel “X-Ray” Palmisciano, and Tina “Boss” Brennan for their one word contributions. Well done, you guys.

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