Frankie - Brand New: Daisy
I’ve been agonizing over writing about a Brand New album since this whole column started and I kept putting it off until today. Once I would have said I was a very proud fan of Brand New; I listened to them through my junior high and high school years, and well into college they still remained my die-hard favorite band. I got the signature astronaut from the cover of their second album Deja Entendu tattooed on my leg and I saw them twice in 2015. Then some horrible news broke, news that I wont get into now but that is easily Googled, and my Brand New records were set aside for quite a while, all my t-shirts pushed to the back of my closet, my enamel pin hidden away in a jewelry box. Only recently have I noticed myself pulling an album out blindly and putting it on, only to recognize the songs at some point and see what I’ve done. Most commonly, I will slip Daisy from its sleeve and drop the needle and try not to think about it too much.
Daisy is the fourth studio album from Brand New; it was released in October 2009 (I was a sophomore in high school) by their label Procrastinate! Music Traitors. At the time of its conception, it was thought to be possibly the last album the band would put out. A majority of the songs deal with things coming to an end, death, and the initial phases of moving on after something traumatic happens to you. Daisy saw main lyricist and front man Jesse Lacey take a step back from that roll, with a majority of the lyrics written by guitarist Vincent Accardi. “At the Bottom” was the only official single released from the album, and is my favorite song by far. I was immediately captured by the imagery in the song in lyrics such as “and there’s a lake/ and at the bottom you’ll find all my friends/ they don’t swim ‘cause they’re all dead” and especially “Some men die under the mountain just looking for gold/ some die looking for a hand to hold.”
Daisy wasn’t always my favorite Brand New album, Deja Entendu held that honor for quite awhile, but as I matured I started to respect the emotion in “Daisy” more than the angsty teen vibes I get from Deja Entendu. I’ve done a lot of reckoning with Brand New this year, and I’m not totally sure I will be busting out my entire collection anytime soon, but for now I will continue to spin Daisy. I picked up Daisy from Haffa’s Record Store many moons ago.
Michael - Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond
It's no secret that I'm an unabashed Dinosaur Jr. fan. I feel that they have some of the strongest music, specifically melody and instrumentation (especially guitar solos) in the business. While some may throw shade at guitarist and vocalist J. Mascis for his distinct vocal style (and he'd likely agree with them), I actually believe that he is a massively underrated vocalist. As a package, it all just works and at the end of the day that's what matters.
Anyway, let's get back to that instrumentation. First, I'd set J. Mascis' soloing ability up against damn near anyone in music, he's that good (and also that underrated). If you gut reaction to this statement is to be offended, you must suffer from not having heard enough Dinosaur Jr. music, because if you had you'd know Mascis is a living legend on the guitar. I'd also point out that Lou Barlow is a great bassist and strong vocalist (he occasionally contributes lead vocals on Dinosaur Jr. songs, including "Back to Your Heart" on this album) in his own right. Finally, Murph is a quick-minded, rhythm-oriented drummer who locks down the drums.
I chose to highlight Beyond out of all the Dinosaur Jr. records in my collection because it was the band's first release after a ten year hiatus between 1997 and 2007. Thankfully since Beyond, they have been back and have been just as good as ever. Also, it happens to be one of my favorite from the group. Having seen them perform live, I can tell you they are no frills and no bullshit when they play. They just come, melt your face for the appropriate length of time and leave just as quickly as they came, who needs stage personas when you have your instruments cranked to 11? I got this copy of Beyond from OMEGA Records in Dayton, Ohio and it will always stay in my collection among my favorites.