Long Island-based rock band Brand New broke their six-year musical drought Monday, April 14, with a new song “Mene.” This development comes after a general stirring within the band’s camp over the past few weeks, and was followed up by the live debut of a second new song on April 15, “Sealed To Me.”
No musical cult following is quite like the one that Brand New has collected over the past 15 years. From 2001’s textbook pop punk debut “Your Favorite Weapon” to 2009’s incredibly dense “Daisy,” Brand New has receded further and further into the shadows in presence and in artistry. In the six years since “Daisy” was released, Brand New has remained relatively quiet for a band that still claims to be active and functioning. This is par for the course for a band that has always had trepidation when it comes to talking with the press and has members who have started families and other projects. However, these caveats have not stopped a rabid fanbase from clamoring for any clue of what might come next.
What usually comes as a result of this clamoring are a lot of false alarms and a lot of pissed off fans. In reality, the band’s activity is not all that mysterious or strange or difficult to decipher– the band has reported year after year that they’ve been working slowly on new material, continuing to play shows although nationwide tours have been few and far between.
So when word started coming in on April 3 that Brand New was perhaps hinting at something, it was difficult not to be skeptical. April 3 was the day that Brand New finally mailed out lyric booklets for their incredible 2006 release, “The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me,” a souvenir promised to fans who mailed a dollar into the band upon the record’s release. The band’s failure to mail out the booklets in a timely fashion had become a running joke among the fanbase, so it comes as no surprise that some fans would go to great lengths to prove that there was more to come from the occurrence. Shipped with the booklet was a flyer announcing an official cassette release of an infamous set of demos leaked during the recording of “The Devil and God,” along with references to a Wardencliff Tower, a long demolished New York wireless tower. Insisting on the importance of these “clues,” users on absolutepunk.net reported local fans going to great lengths (perhaps even trespassing) to scope out the scene, but to no avail. Some users even claimed to have followed through with the flyer’s (clearly sarcastic) request to send in “proof of bloodshed.” These fans are definitely not messing around.
Of course, these (occasionally dangerous, extreme) attempts at peeling back the layers of Brand New’s mystery are bound to be fruitless. What followed the arrival of the lyric booklets was exactly what may have been expected from a band clearly stirring from relative dormancy–on April 8 the band opened the first show of their latest tour in Denver with “Mene,” a short, sweet, but distinctly Brand New track. A few days later, the band’s website was updated and an official recording was streamed and released.
In addition, last Saturday’s Record Store Day saw the long awaited and promised vinyl reissue of Brand New’s breakout record, 2003’s seminal “Deja Entendu.” This limited edition release precedes a standard, more widespread re-press scheduled for May 5. The Record Store Day reissue includes a lyric booklet in the same style as the one sent out for “The Devil and God,” the cover similarly embossed with the word “Pogolith” on the front, the distinct meaning of which is still not clear. Setting aside the mystery, it seems clear that the band is settling the debts they’ve accrued over their career, as if they are wiping the slate clean for a fresh start. This sentiment is perfectly in line with the one reflected in a second new song that Brand New debuted live on April 15, titled “Sealed To Me.” A dynamic shift from the rapid fire nature of “Mene,” “Sealed to Me” is somber and repentant.
When exactly a new record will be released is still up in the air. The idea of a surprise release in the vein of Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” or Beyoncé’s self-titled record has been thrown around a lot, but it doesn’t seem to be in Brand New’s DNA to actively stir the pot that much. In reality, Brand New has never really done anything drastically mysterious or surprising when it comes to promotion. Fans expect the band to bring the darkness and ambiguity of their recordings into their business politics, when all Brand New has actually done is smartly time their promotions in releasing lyric books, vinyl reissues and new music within a short window of time. With all of this in mind, now may be the time for fans to finally get their hopes up. It seems as if a new record announcement should be coming relatively soon–no proof of bloodshed necessary.
Jordan Walsh can be reached at Jordan.firstname.lastname@example.org.