US post punk / emo band Brand New have released three new demo tracks this week. The demos consist of re-recorded versions of songs that featured on a mini album back in 2006.
The three re-worked songs entitled ‘Brother’s Song’, ‘Missing You’ and ‘1996’ had originally featured on an album that leaked online in 2006. The album was eventually scrapped by the band who went on to release ‘The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me’ in the same year.
Usually b-sides, demos and re-worked songs are somewhat of an unnecessary luxury to the average music listener, and often only championed by the most loyal, hardcore of fans. These three new demos however, are slightly different and have a markedly more interesting story.
The popularity of Emo / Post Punk / Post Hardcore music has fallen considerably over the last decade and its easy to forget how prominent it once was within popular music. It was probably the most influential genre of its time and had an almost equal effect on young people as mainstream popular music. It was maybe even the last ‘proper’ sub-culture movement.
Emo (like most new youth movements) became monetised, superficial, bland, oversaturated and eventually destroyed itself. The majority of its fans grew up and today (despite not being that old) it is viewed and listened to with a slight nostalgic irony. However, with all new genres and sub-genres there is often a ‘dark horse’ band who manage to tap into some brilliant vein of liquid gold in a mountain of black plastic. Brand New were that band and back in 2006 these demos should have been their defining moment.
2003’s ‘Deja Entendu’ was on reflection, a masterpiece of its time and is one of the few albums of that era that still stands up. It recently peaked at number 3 on the US Billboard Vinyl Albums chart.
‘Deja Entendu’ has a perfect balance of being quiet and unassuming yet filled with this huge atmospheric hurricane of teenage angst. Most importantly it has promise, it sounds like a band with momentum and fans were hopeful that the next album would be even better.
The band began working on new material, and in 2006 an album of 9 unfinished songs was leaked online and shared around the world. The songs (albeit fantastic) sounded unready, like blueprints meant for something far bigger, and in one fell swoop Brand New’s fans had effectively screwed over not only the band but themselves.
The album was scrapped and only smatterings were used on their official release ‘The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me’.
What should have been their defining moment became the cliched ‘difficult third album’ and the band that seemed certain to survive the eventual demise of Emo, went down with the rest of the ship in a heap of Gerard Ways and Chris Carrabbas.
The context of that story gives an oddly bittersweet experience when listening the new demos, which have now been released presumably as they were intended to be a decade ago. What they have now however, is a beautiful irony attached to them.
For all of the Emo songs drenched in despair and regret that have now been lost to time. These three demos have an unparalleled legitimacy, perhaps something that only comes with 10 years of baggage.