Thursday, October 6, 2016

2001 - Your Favorite Weapon

The 90s had its moments, stellar ones at that, though far and in-between. Thank God for the new millennium. Out of the cold embers would emerge Weezer and Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins and NIN, but for the most part, no one was stirring the fire. 2001 was Brand New (that play on words works best, but feel free to insert another name - Blink, Taking Back Sunday, Story of the Year). Rock was dead without them, so peel away the silly emo/screamo labeling, this was post punk at its best; a Clash take on punk - all the teen angst, less of the attitude. Emo, by shear virtue of its ridiculous moniker recreated rock 'n' roll. (Yeah, yeah, you said the same thing about Pavement and Blur, but what was missing in the 90s was indeed the brandy new.) Pavement were boys who wanted to make the music they'd stumbled upon; it was punk.2.0. Brand New weren't listening to the Pistols and Darby Crash; they'd grown up on pop psychedelia and The Cure and the fuck-off sneer of punk wasn't the animosity of kids who'd grown up in Brixton poor and angry, but middle class American teens, brass in pocket, whose parents bought them cars that they crashed. These were the children of the me generation, parents embroiled in their work but not their families, a generation of kids who had plenty when plenty wasn't enough. It wasn't punk posturing, it was simply an honest display of what it meant to be young and dumb and full of cum with a frontal lobe not yet fully developed. This was what Kurt Cobain set out to do, but didn't live long enough to do so.

With the new millennium came Your Favorite Weapon. The LP is packed, not with dark, layered tracks exploring a variety of themes (that would come), but with thundering pop-punk anthems. The quiet thunder of Deja Entendu, the dark anger of The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, and the layered complexities of Daisy are nowhere to be found on Brand New's debut. Instead it was all teen angst, heartache, lost love and betrayal. Your Favorite Weapon had the best traits of pop-punk. It was visceral, heavy, loud and spontaneous, and sounded like the greatest thing ever - when you were 16. This was rock for the new millennium, still rough around the edges, raw sixteenedness. Behind all The Pixies thrashing and quiet-loud dynamics, Jesse Lacey poured out his heart. Like any album where a guy takes his flaws and intellect and shoves them in your face, some will think Your Favorite Weapon a whack-off. Instead there's more heart here than a myriad of lyricists burying their confessions in vagary. 

Chris Carabba of Dashboard Confessional said that Jesse Lacey would be his generation's Kurt Cobain, but IDK. If Kurt had been around any longer, does anyone think that he wouldn't conceive another In Utero, this time without the charm or the tunes? Die young, stay pretty was the model there - but no one will ever know. To this writer, Your Favorite Weapon was Bleach ten years later, but with hits. "Mix Tape" said more about tone and setting and sensory detail than any kid ever learned in honors English, and "Soco Amaretto Lime" wasn't a mere anthem, it was a mantra: "You're just jealous 'cause we're young and in love." Of course we are. I was far too old to experience the sensitivity allowed the Emo boys, but I realize that had this music been there for me as a teen, I would have benefited greatly. Our music was better, don't get me wrong, but it was ethereal and fanciful (from Yes to Queen to ELP). Girls of my era were allowed to emote, but teenage boys were left to fondle themselves and told to buck up. No one ever let on that we were the coolest kids in town or that we should take what we want. "I'm gonna stay 18 forever,/ so we can stay like this forever."