Brand New

The Set List

By Brian Washburn

Brand New always seemed to be one step ahead of the music game when it came to producing a sound associated with a different genre. They never reached the popularity on rock radio most thought they would (aside from a cult following of college students around the nation) and they never replicated the same sound they produced on their previous album.

From their pop-punk debut Your Favorite Weapon (which was released a few years before the entire pop-punk explosion lead by the likes of Fall Out Boy), to their rock masterpiece Deja Entendu (an album that has been put on a pedestal by music scenes across the nation), to their experimental indie/rock album “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me” (which blurred all indie and rock lines and caught fans by surprise), the band never set their sights on a certain sound or a certain genre to overtake. But for Brand New, that was the point. They never wanted the fame, the epic-hook radio hits or the mass teen following of their peers. No, they wanted to make the music they wanted and on their new release, Daisy, it is evident they are going to continue this trend until they run out of gas.

Daisy’s first track, “Vices,” begins with a creepy record recording of what sounds like a woman from the 1930s singing (like a clip right out of a horror movie), but then it blasts into a stripped down hard rock sound with almost screamo vocals, a feat the band has not attempted since their ill-advised venture into screaming on Deja. The album then swiftly maneuvers from the screeching vocals from Jesse Lacey to a smooth indie ballad “Bed.” While the transition is not an unnoticeable one, it certainly sets the tone for the entire record.

Daisy moves between soft indie/rock songs that seem like they were written with one concept in mind and screeching grunge songs written with a completely different concept. This discrepancy could be because Lacey (the principal songwriter on all of the band’s previous work) stepped down for this album and let guitarist Vincent Accardi take the reins. Most of the time it works. In fact, the songs don’t take a much different tone than that of God and Devil. The lyrics still focus on death, love and all things dark that seems to be roaming in an on-the-edge songwriter’s mind.

The guitars are light and vibrant before moving into crunching portions on certain songs, while the rhythm section remains at its peak throughout the entire album, especially drummer Brian Lane.

However, it is Lacey’s vocals and the song structure itself bringing Daisy on its on path down the life span of Brand New. Lacey brings to mind Kurt Cobain in the middle of his career, struggling to hit every note and struggling to not give up at every turn and relocate to confinement in the backwoods somewhere. The vocals certainly are passionate and a step further in the direction they were taking on God and Devil, but at times they can be too powerful and make listeners step back a bit and wonder if this is the same band who gave them “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad” and “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot.”

The song structure takes an even more experimental approach than the band did on their previous effort. “In a Jar,” “Noro,” “Sink” and “Gasoline” provide unusual song structure, but also a breathe of fresh air for long-time Brand New fans.

Daisy will not find its way to pop radio (or maybe even alternative radio) any time in the future. But it does accomplish what Brand New set out to accomplish all along: Make the music they want for anybody who wants to listen.

Tracks such as “Daisy,” “At the Bottom” and “Bought a Bride” are real gems found within a confused flower patch. Brand New might not be the band they once were, but I’m sure they can’t be happier with the way they have progressed as musicians, songwriters and a band. Time will only tell whether all Brand New fans will feel this way and stick with them on the journey.

Categories: LIVE! In NWA