Commentary

This is a Nightmare: Being a ‘Brand New’ Fan in 2016

Rock band Brand New’s infrequent musical output has frustrated fans to no end.

It’s been seven years since Daisy. Ten since Devil and God.

(Let that sink in).

Like an overlapping harmony, longtime Brand New fans lovingly obsess and revoltingly resent the Long Island quartet. I do too. There’s the waiting for new material, there are the mixed messages via merchandise, there is the complete and utter lack of communication (except for, of course, when they have something repurposed to sell).

It’s not uncommon for bands to keep private before releasing new music. The problem is that Brand New dangles the idea of new music in front their fans, but then never delivers. Playing coy for the sake of building interest is one thing. Lying to fans is another thing altogether.

brand-new-1

Brand New is basically the deadbeat dad who missed our birthday party. Seven years in a row.

We forgive them because we love them and we can’t help it.

Nevertheless, it’s easy to forget— with our insatiable Brand New appetites — that there actually is new Brand New music out there. No full album but singles, live tracks, mastered and reworked demos have all surfaced, both officially and unofficially, over the last couple years. (more…)

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Scratching the Niche: The Militia Group’s Massive Year, 10 Years Later

Author’s Note:

Initially, this blog post was a ten year retrospective of the 2005 indie/alt rock music scene, like a reunion of sorts. I was going to pun Gross Point Blank and we would’ve had a great time. Kings of Leon, Acceptance, and Bright Eyes were all going to be on this list. But when I finalized my top ten choices, I realized that five out of ten albums all came from the same indie record label: The Militia Group. So here we are.

Let’s reminisce, shall we?

Scratching the Niche

Once upon a time — when Dashboard Confessional ruled the earth — there was an edgy little record label out of Orange County, CA called The Militia Group (TMG). Their roster of bands lay somewhere in between what you’d hear on, say, Drive-Thru Records and Tooth & Nail.

For their origin story, you can visit Wikipedia (or this blog). What is appropriate is this: TMG started signing bands and releasing records in 2000-2001: Rufio, The Lindsay Diaries and Noise Ratchet (a personal favorite) were some of these early artists.

Most of TMG’s roster is now gone and left forgotten in the used bin of your favorite closed-down record store, but you might recognize some of the bands that hit major label success: Copeland, Cartel, Acceptance. Back then, there was an intensity in the music that TMG was signing. Noise Ratchet, for instance, was angst-fueled and Christian emo, i.e., perfect. Unlike the deliciously glossy (Sprinkled) Tooth & Nail releases, TMG was a little more unrefined, a little riskier.

They broke into my scene with Copeland’s debut record, Beneath Medicine Tree. We had known of love songs, and of rock songs. We had worn our hearts on our sleeves. But back then, when I was in high school, there wasn’t a better record you could buy. Beneath Medicine Tree did everything we wanted in an album, including the stuff we were afraid to admit we wanted: it taught us about the beauty in pain. It was thought-provoking and refreshingly transparent.

TMG was gaining momentum and we were all paying attention. When 2005 hit, this tiny record label stepped up big. It was a perfect storm and the timing was right.  (more…)

Confessions of a Former Dashboard Confessional Fan

Many pop/rock bands from my youth are reemerging. Weezer, Brand New, Blink 182, mewithoutYou and Jimmy Eat World have all embarked on album reunion tours (Jimmy Eat World just announced one for FUTURES, which is pretty great). For me, this year marks the tenth anniversary of something even more nostalgic and silly, that is, my high school graduation.

I think about where I was ten years ago and who I was listening to. Oddly enough, it is a lot of the same music I listen to today. Adding to the list up top we have Death Cab for Cutie, Beck, Denison Witmer, Lovedrug, Ben Folds…

I’m okay with still liking all these bands. Their music is sustaining, and I’m proud to say that they helped shape my younger ears.

But there’s other bands from my past, that when they pop up, I’m not so okay with. What I’m getting at is that sometimes certain music reminds me how creepy I was in high school.

The Bands You Have Come to Fear the Most

Remember Dashboard Confessional? That emo acoustic-rock band lead by Chris Carrabba out of Further Seems Forever? I’m asking but, really, I know you do. Odds are if you are around my age and listened to indie/emo you probably owned two or three of his EPs; the MTV Unplugged DVD/CD combo; you wore the D/C pins on your denim jacket; and you shouted his lyrics like hell, in angst, when relationships broke (and really, even when you were happy).

Yeah. That Dashboard Confessional.

What was it about this band that was so gripping? I mean sure, he sang about falling in love and break-ups and getting cheated on, which captured the essence of dating in high-school, but there was something else. Something that just connected.

Maybe it was the time. One of those rare things, you know? A perfect storm, fueled by emotion-hungry MTV rebels who were looking for a genuineness than rock radio couldn’t provide. And Chris Carrabba sang from the heart. He was always truthful on stage, and I think that’s what we loved. He was the genuine, earnest article. He was the folk-voice of my high school generation, and, to be honest, it’s totally embarrassing.

But before I get ahead of myself, here’s a quick recap for those who honestly don’t know about Dashboard Confessional.

Kevin’s Dashboard 3 Point Recap

1. Cheated on by his wife, he poured his heart out on some angsty acoutsic EPs

2. Those EPs made him super popular. Then he made more of the same

3. He eventually pulled a ’65 Dylan and went electric, earning a couple big MTV hits.

I was a REALLY big fan of Dashboard. The extent of my obsession was a bit much. You can tell I was a big fan because I drop the band’s last name when I refer to them. We were that close. Like Chris, I now need to confess. I need to brush embarrassing memories off my chest, so I can finally move forward, like an adult.

(To the tune of Buzzfeed)

Vindicated?

1. I had a questionably handsome poster on my bedroom wall of Chris on the cover of SPIN

$_35

2. I used my friend’s dad’s eBay account to consistently bid on Dashboard merch. mlRflFAMpCcNczhbPF_fKhg (more…)

The Avett Brothers—the ‘Breaking Bad’ of Live Music

Formal Opening: This esteemed, academic discussion will argue that The Avett Brothers are to live music as Breaking Bad is to television drama: elevating the craft and challenging the accepted paradigm through optimal songwriting and storytelling, employing a diverse range of genres, effectively executing dynamically positioned theatricality.

Relaxed Opening: I saw The Avett Brothers for the first time last night, and they were freakin’ awesome!

And It Spread

The Avett Brothers made a stop here in Rochester to promote their new album, Magpie and the Dandelion; however, brothers and co. primarily performed older material from Emotionalism and I and Love and You. (more…)