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As you will no doubt know if you have read some of my previous reviews, my number one favourite band at the moment, is Brand New. The guys from New York have been a firm favourite for a year now, and I have been listening to them for at least 3 or 4. This year, I knew would be a good year as a Brand New fan, with them touring in the UK, where I managed to see them twice, on two consecutive nights, and, the release of their 4th, and hugely anticipated, studio album.
All I knew for the past few months, was that it was due out in autumn this year. So, I knew it was coming. In the upcoming months, we gradually learnt more, as tracks were confirmed, such as "Bought a Bride", and "Gasoline", which were performed live, which, at the same time, Jesse Lacey confirmed it was due out in the end of September. Beginning of August, saw the first single released, and a final hint at the direction they were travelling in was heard.
Released at the end of September last year, originally, the album was to be called "and one head can never die", all in lower case letters. It was changed, after Vince wrote the song Daisy. The album cover, features a demented looking fox, in front of a forest, with what looks like snow or ash falling. It is a true Brand New cover, following from the strange cover of their previous album. It is a rather short album, totting in at just over 40 minutes.
We open, quietly, some background noise, and an odd piano piece. First listening - "what the feck are they doing?", but you soon realise it is an old song piece, sang by some woman, this plays for the first minute and a bit, and, is actually rather good, but not something you would expect on a Brand New record. But, then it is bang! Enter Brand New. A really heavy sound, and Jesse nearly screams the words he sings, in an interview, he mentioned the album being dense, and this certainly sounds like it. It is loud, and so powerful, the guitars playing a high riff over the deep drone of the bass, and with vocals so brilliantly layered it is amazing. It has an odd breakdown piece, which sounds really grungy, musically, it is actually mildly reminiscent of the sound of Nirvana on In Utero.
It opens straight into the next song. No introduction, just one note before Jesse sings, his voice a loud whisper, the transition from the previous track is surreal. It isn't grungy at all, the music is soft and flows beautifully, with a guitar riff that could melt pancakes. The bass is thick beneath all the rest of the music, and cranked up loud I can feel my floor vibrate to every note. It is pure Brand New, just as you haven't heard it before, and a simple song, (which is why I have little to write about it), which is just pure awesome.
At The Bottom
I had heard this a few weeks ago, being the first single from the album. It opens with an eerie guitar riff, before sliding into the main sound of the song, a sweet little riff, and with Jesse sounding rather southern. The first time I heard this, I didn't know what to think, it was so different to their previous work, but similar at the same time, but after having listened to it a few times, it is stuck in my head. It is great. The chorus, with it's echoing shouts, the dual guitars, and the perfectly rhymed drumming all add together serenely. The verses, bridges and chorus all linking so smoothly, with their varying sounds, and different music beneath them, followed by a small breakdown, where you can distantly hear lyrics in the background, but they are impossible to make out clearly. From the moment I head this track, my ears were craving to hear the rest of the album...
Some men die under the mountain just looking for gold
Some die looking for a hand to hold
I first heard this track a bit before going to see them in June, having found it live on YouTube. I then saw it performed live by the band. It is another dense song, which starts off heavy, it's deep bass line, and the eager drums. Jesse wastes no time in getting to the heart of the song, with an opening verse which secretes emotion like a priest does Holy Water. The song is a mesh of sounds, echoing guitars flowing over the rest of the music, the drums, beating in such a pattern that I can't easily describe it. There are peaks, there are ebbs. There is screaming, there is the near faint whisper of Jesses voice. The song ends abruptly, but there is a minute of sound, it is like wailing feedback, and I love it.
Opening quietly again. A few chords on the guitar, with a gliding riff shooting above. Jesses voice so quiet in contrast to the previous track, the song has such a different mood to it. The music repeats itself, the riff which slides over the music is, as on other tracks, eerie. The chorus comes in unannounced, it is as soft as the verses before it. But hit the half way stage, and the music kicks off, it rises in volume, the parts all locking together, the once intermittent riff comes and plays firmly, before it just drops off to the softness again, for one verse, and back to the roaring music, the wall of sound that bombard your attentive ears, before it all breaks down, the musical elements going their own ways to fade the song out.
At just 1:31, it is the shortest track on the album. It opens with a strange sounding reverberation, and the music has a western feel to it. The lyrics are echoing to such an extreme they cannot clearly be heard. The music is all that really carries the song, it sounding pretty much like just an instrumental. I am not sure exactly what they were going for here, but it isn't all that great, and is the first time I have been left a tad disappointed.
A thudding drum plays, with a bass line and guitar riff soon following. Jesse starts soft, with two or three lines, before he screams at me. He soon returns to the softness, only to return again to shouting. The music following his mood. It sounds full of emotion, like someone with some mental disorder, quiet one moment and screaming the next. The music that flows with him is so perfectly tight, the instruments blending with one another, the guitar taking a firm lead. It is a thrilling song, leaving you on tenterhooks as to when he is going to flip and shout.
Bought a Bride
Sometime late last year, my best friend and fellow Brand New fanatic, sent me a link on MySpace to a new Brand New song. Named, by fans "Brickhouse" or "Trees". It was that, which is now here, in it's full form, with the official titled. It was another new song that I had seen live in June, and one I was really looking forward to hearing when it was completed. It opens with a great guitar riff, before the bass and drums come in along with Jesse. It is immediately a catcher, the verse flows perfectly and has that soft emotion to it. The choruses are nearly screamed, the guitar keeping it's same riff throughout, with the addition of some incredible wailing from another guitar as Jesse sings "Bought a Briiiiiiiideee". It is nothing short of awesome, and I had originally thought it would be the perfect first single. There is everything a great song needs, from incredible vocals, changing pitches and volumes, a great load of guitar work and the general feeling of a perfectly put together track. Downside? It ends too soon, they could have easily extended the music into a 6 minuter, I would have loved that.
If everyone's a structure
Where their own savior sits
Then I'm a little red house
And no one's living in it
The title track. It has another extract from some old movie or something, before a fragile guitar riff begins. Jesses voice the most delicate it has been so far, the music which builds behind it is soft with echoes and reverbs. The overlapping bird sounds, and another extract of a small child talking. The music then changes, it has developed an anger, the same tune, but darker. A bass line has edged in. Jesse's voice deepened, and the drums now carry the song, while the previous soft guitar piece has become a faint sound, perfectly nestled above the rest. It does the unfortunate thing, of ending a little too soon, since again, I could easily have listened to more, alas, it begins to fade out with that same gentle piece from the beginning...
In a Jar
It opens different again. It is another great sounding riff, before a deep and catchy bass line comes in twinned with an equally great pounding from the drums. The dual vocals sound incredible, adding another dimension to the song. At first, I wasn't a huge fan of this song, but it grew on me hugely by the time it had played through, so much so that is a clear favourite of mine. It has this great infectious quality to it, and I should think it is a prime candidate for the next single. It is another track with some excellent heavy pieces, which just flip from the quiet.
Finishing the album off, we have Noro, the longest track on the album. It begins in an eerie way, some background noise and a twinkling guitar, some reverb edges in as the real guitar begins. Jesse speaks. His voice sounds tender, there is huge anticipation, there is emotion. The song leads you, you know that at any minute it could flip to heavy. As the bass comes in, Jesse's voice goes distant, with calls of "I'm on my way to hell", repeated over and over. It then beefs up, the vocals not distant nor soft. They have the edge that Jesse brings to all his songs, the music has a steady pound to it, and the next time he sings "I'm on my way to hell", there is overlapping lyrics, and it sounds amazing. Next bit of the song? Well he sounds different again, his voice sounds desperate. Just half way in, the song has already asserted itself as pure Brand New - constant changing. You can't predict how the next line will be sang, you can't see what the next chord will bring. With 1 minute to go, the song breaks down, there is some strange fading guitar feedback, before it switches back to the strange woman singing from the start of the album. The song has ended, the album has come to a close.
Shit. That was an experience. I never knew exactly what to expect from them. They started off with Punk sounds in their debut album, they moved into the Emo arena with Deja Entendu, before shedding it, but moving darker with Devil and God. Now, they are darker than ever.
Daisy is a misleading title. It isn't all gentle and elegant; it is full of emotion, anger, and music so powerful that I was left awestruck. This album is a natural progression, so smooth that it hurts.
The album has so many twists and turns, it has so much going on inside it. When I first heard the strange old woman song pieces, I was confused, I wandered what Brand New were doing, I forgot that I just needed to leave them to it, as they could never disappoint. I read a million different interviews, all concerning the release of the album, and Jesse mentioned somewhere, that Vince, the bassist, had a lot more influence than he had in the past and penned a great number of the songs, he went on to say it was scary how similar the songs they were penning were. The strange woman bits, as I have called them, were actually from an old song Jesse used to listen to in Church:
"It's called "On Life's Highway" written by Bertrand Brown. I collect weird things -- I bought some tapes from an estate sale, and there were some old sermons from a Baptist minister in Texas back in the '60s, and that hymn was on it, and it was a hymn that I remembered from when I was younger going to church. We've always been interested in putting strange things on the albums. We don't do it as much as we would like. I think if we had our way we'd just make a half-hour mix of sound bites and things like that."
I could never have guessed what way they would have gone here, the overall mood of the album is so different to the individual songs that I had heard live earlier in the year, like I said - it is dark. Jesse described the album as "dense", and it certainly is, they have crammed in so much into just 40 minutes, it is overflowing with emotion, passion and above all, incredible music. I had initially worried, that due to their constant change of sounds, they would get too distant from the Devil and God, which I had loved so so much, but they managed to evolve from it, keeping all the amazing elements.
There is no doubt, that this is going to be on repeat for the next few weeks. It is going to be on my iPod, on my computer. On the player in the car. I will get so much more from the songs the more I listen to them, and my favourites will eventually become clear, so far, I can't pick just one, the different sounds have me all over the place, but I think, "Noro" could be creeping up a head.
Hear the single, "At the Bottom" on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQijiZmDq28&feature=related
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 At the Bottom
5 You Stole
6 Be Gone
8 Bought a Bride
10 In a Jar