Go And Buy A Hammer, Never Sing Again

Once upon a time, I was easing my way back into listening to music that actually qualifies as “alt-rock” (as opposed to the crap I was listening to in my early- and mid-twenties).  But I still had a ways to go.  I was listening to Sirius Alt Nation most of the time, but I had a tendency to only listen to artists I knew.  If a new artist came on the radio, I tended to change the channel (and this was the exact reason I slept on Jack’s Mannequin and Straylight Run, among others, and to this day it kinda bums me out).

By late 2006, I had pretty much gotten the better of that habit.  (I had also purchased the debut albums by Jack’s Mannequin and Straylight Run.)  I wasn’t exactly seeking out new music, but I wasn’t actively trying to shield myself from it either.

One new song that caught my attention on Alt Nation was “Sowing Season” by Brand New. Now, I’d heard of Brand New before.  I’m pretty sure I’d seen the videos for “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad,” “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows,” and “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” on Fuse once or twice.  I even have a vague recollection of hearing “Jude Law” on Y1oo.  But I’d never really felt compelled to check out their records or anything like that.

I don’t really know what about “Sowing Season” caught my attention (the song is amazing and one of my favorites, but that’s 5.5 years of living with it talking).  I wouldn’t even say that the song in and of itself was the thing that prompted me to buy The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me.  I remember reading a glowing review of it somewhere on the Internet.  (All I really remember from that review was getting the sense that the author really hadn’t wanted to like Devil and God as much as he or she did.  It was almost bitter about just how glowing it was.)  The next day I was at Best Buy for something (man, do I wish I could remember what I had actually gone to Best Buy for that day) and when I walked in I perused the new/popular CD wall (as was my wont).  One album’s cover caught my eye, I picked it up, and, lo and behold, it was Devil and God and it was on sale.  (The wannabe archivist in me wishes I remembered the exact date this happened, but I don’t.  There is, however, a very good chance that it was November 20, the very day Devil and God was released.  At the very least, it was no more than a few weeks after it was released.)  Remembering the glowing review I’d read the night before and knowing how much I liked “Sowing Season,” I decided to buy it.  Why not, right?  It was on sale.

The first time I listened to The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me was in my car on the way home from Best Buy that night.  Now, I talk about Brand New all the time on this here blog and take any excuse to tag posts “Brand New,” so you’re probably thinking that I fell in love with Devil and God on that very first listen and became an insta-fan.  Well, you’d be wrong.  I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.  Frankly, Devil and God isn’t what I’d call an “immediate” record, it’s the kind of record that one has to live with.  If I met someone who claimed to love Devil and God on first listen, I’d call them a liar.

Once home I added The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me to my iPod.  This turned out to be key.  At work the next day, I decided to listen to Devil and God again.  And that kept happening.  Even though I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the record (except for “Sowing Season,” which I loved), something kept causing me to listen to it at work.  Pretty much daily.  And as I started to develop an appreciation for the record (especially the first half), I kept listening to it.  By the first of the year, I was hooked.

In early 2007 I decided to check out their back-catalog.  I wanted to start slow, so I bought their earlier singles (“Jude Law,” “Quiet Things,” and “Sic Transit Gloria”) from iTunes.  (Here iTunes helps my wannabe archivist.  I bought “Sic Transit Gloria” and “Quiet Things” on 1/6/07 and “Jude Law” on 1/12/07.)  I eventually decided to buy a physical copy of Deja Entendu in late January (I think – I’m pretty sure I bought it just before my dad’s birthday).  I fell in love with Deja pretty instantly.  It’s a much more immediate record than Devil and God.  Even though I was a confirmed Brand New fan at this point, I didn’t buy their first record, Your Favorite Weapon, until the end of March (again, I think – I’m pretty sure I bought it the day I saw Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveShow at the Wachovia Center).  Favorite Weapon is my least favorite of the three, but I love it for its own reasons.

At around this time, I became desperate to see them live (funny, since I had no idea how difficult that would eventually become).  For whatever reason, I didn’t see them when they played the Electric Factory in April ’07.  It may have been sold out by the time I found out about it.  But then they were announced as one of the main stage acts at the Bamboozle that year (and so were quite a few other bands I love).  Hooray!  I convinced my brother to go with me and headed up to the Meadowlands full of happy energy.  But then actually getting in to the show was a clusterfuck of epic proportions.  (Remember how much I complained about getting in to the Ritz Ybor for Taking Back Sunday last year?  This was so much worse.)  It wouldn’t have been so bad if Brand New hadn’t been the first band to play the main stage.  But they were.  And I only saw the very end of their set (but I saw them play “Seventy Times 7,” so that was something).  I was cranky but eventually got over it and enjoyed the rest of the day.

Okay, I’m almost up to 1,100 words.  I need to wrap this up.

Even after the disappointment of not really seeing them at Bamboozle, I continued to listen to Brand New religiously.  My listening focus would shift, but eventually it always returned to Brand New.  They’re my comfort food (or my happy place, as I decided last year).

In the summer of 2009, they announced a new record, Daisy.  I was stoked, both for the record and the potential tour to support it.  I pre-ordered Daisy from the band (and even got it in the mail the Saturday before it was released – yay!).  Like Devil and God, it’s not an immediate record.  It’s also not my favorite Brand New record, but I do love it.  I also finally realized my dream of seeing them live on November 5, 2009, when they headlined at the Ritz Ybor (which was actually a super-positive experience).

I hoped they would tour again in 2010, but it was not to be.  However, I was ridiculously fortunate last year.  They played all of 13 shows in 2011 (as far as I remember), and I was at two of them.

I’m hopeful they’ll put out LP5 this year.  Apparently Jesse said something about working on new music at one of the 11 shows I didn’t attend last year.  Plus, they just wrapped up a tour of the UK.  In the mean time, I will continue listening to the four amazing records they’ve already given us.  Brand New has been my favorite band for 5.5 years now and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Until tomorrow.

* Today’s title is a line from the song “Bought a Bride.”  It’s a line that kind of filled me with abject horror from early 2010 until the first batch of dates was announced in early 2011. I normally know what I’m going to name a post before I write it, but today I had no idea (too many options).  It just sort of came to me as I was finishing this post.


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