Residing in a hardcore corner unbeknownst to most whose introduction to Long Island was Your Favorite Weapon was melodic-hardcore band Crime In Stereo. Crime In Stereo was started by Alex Dunne; he was a member of post-hardcore band The Rookie Lot, in which Jesse Lacey played as well. Dunne chose to go the more aggressive route and Crime In Stereo quickly became a much adored Long Island Hardcore band. Brand New and Crime In Stereo’s career trajectory have many similarities. They both released four albums, one of each were genre-defying. They both challenged themselves continuously throughout their careers. They were both stalwarts of the mid 2000s punk scenes, in their respective scenes of course. So, two years after Crime In Stereo’s break-up and three years after Brand New’s final full-length release (by their own accord) which career holds up better to scrutiny? Let’s compare.
Freshman Album: Finding Sturdy Ground
So, generously, I’ll say “this album has not aged well at all.”
the album immediately kicks into gear with a gang shout “We’re all going to hell!” and then barrels through the next 12 songs in a blistering 28 minutes. This album, while it slows down occasionally, never has an acoustic break (thank Christ) and packs a punch right up until “Arson At 563,” which demonstrates CIS’s knack for knowing exactly how to close an album. Here, you can even notice the staggering difference in lyrical content. Brand New obviously is hungup on ex-girlfriends and very contentious towards everything. Even though I’d assume that Crime In Stereo is the angrier of the two, Crime In Stereo’s lyrics exude a kind of waywardness towards their “trainwreck of a life.” They comment on more societal issues (“No Gold Stars for Nationalism”) where Brand New resigns to bitching about high school. This is a good album, but our own Kyle Murphy put it best when he called Explosives a “very good b-sides” record in the kitchen of the party that time we became friends.
Sophomore Record: Defining Genres
Junior Record: Long Island Burns
First and foremost, this record is LOUD. Howling shrieks cascade into explosive wall of sounds. They continue to challenege themselves, taking chances with their songwriting structure and futher obfuscating their lyrical content. Some similar themes are still there (lost love in “Not The Sun”) but overall, everything about this album is stronger. My main complaint, once again, is the closing track. Do we really need an acoustic closer every album? Regardless, I do genuinely enjoy “Handcuffs,” but again, it would have fared better in the middle of the album. That decision notwithstanding, I feel The Devil and God is Brand New’s defining album of their career.
Senior Record: Life's a Train Then You Die
Post Script: Conclusions Upon Graduating
Brand New and Crime In Stereo are seminal early 2000s bands. Without Brand New, we actually may have been spared a bunch godawful pop-punk bands. The reach of Crime In Stereo has yet to be determined. I have no doubt both will be cited as heavily influential in the coming years, but to what extent? When melodic hardcore inevitably comes back into the forefront, will people be name dropping Crime In Stereo offhand as much as they do Cap’n Jazz for Emo? Will Daisy be the impetus for a noisey, and hopefully listenable, pop-punk music?
In terms of preferences, I think my allegiance is clear. I will always live and die by Crime In Stereo whereas Brand New remains a band I love, but love to be critical about even more. What are your thoughts?