Brand New
Leaked Demos 2006


4.5
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
February 7th, 2019 | 75 replies


Release Date: 12/04/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Brand New’s greatest unofficial achievement.

When people marvel at 2006’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and praise Brand New’s apparently “sudden” maturation, they’re leaving out a rather important piece of the puzzle. It’s easy to glance at their discography and point to Deja Entendu’s pop-punk demeanor, and then to The Devil and God’s dark, existential rock mastery and call it an astronomical rise. The truth is, Brand New’s evolution over the years was far more calculated – and Leaked Demos 2006 illustrates a link in time that too few people know about. This was The Devil and God before it evolved into the classic that we know today. ‘Luca’ and ‘Sowing Season’ exist here in their primitive forms, while ‘Battalions’ offers us a variation on ‘Archers.’ Those demos, clearly, went on to become better versions of themselves. However, Leaked Demos 2006 holds its value in the unreleased songs – the ones that were never fully mastered because of a leak that left the band with a bad taste in its mouth. We’re ultimately talking about ‘Good Man’, ‘1996’, ‘Brother’s Song’, ‘Missing You’, ‘Nobody Moves’, and ‘Fork and Knife’ – a collection of gems that would go on to become Brand New’s figurative sixth LP; this brilliant album that almost happened but never did.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that the band scrapped this approach and was forced to reinvent the wheel, because without it we wouldn’t have their emotionally devastating magnum opus. But it sure is nice to revisit the leaks, because they represent that all-important missing frame in Brand New’s story, the organic growth that bridged two of their most well-received albums. Some of these tunes even serve as a backstory to the pain and loss of innocence strewn about TDAG. For hardcore Brand New fans, Leaked Demos 2006 is practically as essential as their five “official” LP’s, and honestly, it’s every bit as good.

Right off the bat, ‘Good Man’ hits you in the gut. It’s two minutes long, and it spans two lives – Lacey’s, and the object of his affection, presumably his first love. He sets fire to two pieces of paper – one with his name written, and the other with hers – and laments that hers “burned out the whole spectrum, as if you were everything” and that his “just burned gold, a normal flame”, ultimately concluding “I am not anything.” He goes on to recount their youth together, and the time they spent indulging in their friendship. As they both grow into young adults, she falls for a series of boys and summer loves who “play careless with her heart”, while he has a new girl sitting beside him in his car every night. It’s sung mournfully; regrettably. It’s clear that he still thinks about her and wishes to recapture that feeling, as he sagely informs listeners, “something dies when you grow older, but you do the best you can...I am glad you found a good man.” It’s really a tale as old as time: boy meets girl, they each grow up and apart as “life happens”, then one or both looks back remorsefully at what might have been. For such a brief acoustic track that, upon initial inspection, sounds like little more than an interlude, ‘Good Man’ is brimming with astute observations about relationships and life. It’s easily one of the most underrated songs in Brand New’s canon.

From there, Leaked Demos delves into the Morrissey-esque ‘1996’, which alternates between thick, syrupy verses and an all-too-memorable chorus (“…and so three cheers for my morose and grieving pals”), with the main hook existing as twangy guitar plucks that introduce the track while resurfacing periodically. The most interesting line is one of self-damnation, which sees Lacey foreshadow the lyrical theme of the band’s future three records: “If there's any justice in heaven then God won't let me in / He'll lock the gates and take my weekend pass away...I am cursed to walk the earth for millennia, I know I deserve worse but it terrifies me and I can't take it anymore.” ‘1996’ offers such a fluid and melodic progression that you’d never suspect the lyrics would condemn the narrator to such a fate, but that’s the charm of 2006 Brand New – a band that had accessed its lyrical forte but was still working its way out of the pop-punk/punk-rock arena.

On the heels of ‘1996’ comes ‘Brother’s Song’, a heartbreaking account of war and the impact that it can have on a family. It feels a bit like a sibling track to ‘Good Man’ in the context of the album, again resorting to stripped down acoustics and Jesse’s vocal/lyrical prowess. The anti-war vibes are obvious when he sings lines such as “just a few mothers' sons will never be enough / not 'til half of our names are etched out in the wall, and the other half ruined from the things we saw.” What gives the song such a personal touch, though, are the allusions to the narrator’s brother – who becomes a relatable character. “The girl that my brother likes is finally talking to him, and his chest is all swelled like he's proud and happy / Like he's got a great idea, like he's making a memory” Jesse proclaims, before threatening, “I'll be dead before you put a gun in my brother's hands.” It’s a stance that many people can empathize with; he’s protective of his (presumably younger) brother, and he doesn’t want to see harm befall him. For a frontman whose lyrics are often introspective and self-deprecating, ‘Brother’s Song’ is a touching ode to the dedication he has to his family, and how fiercely defensive he could become if their lives were ever in danger.

Two songs that unfathomably never made the cut for any of Brand New’s future albums both come next, in the form of ‘Missing You’ and ‘Nobody Moves.’ The former is an insanely infectious pop-rock tune with a driving electronic/synth backbeat, offering fans what might be the band’s happiest-sounding song to date. The chorus forlornly alludes to the death of a loved one, but fondly bids them adieu: “Until I awake, we just hope that you made it / We hope that you're celebrating, with people you miss.” It doesn’t sound like the most optimistic topic, but it’s all in the word choice. Lacey wishes this person happiness in the company of those who passed before him; to be reunited with kin. It’s a bittersweet moment that comes full circle when Jesse confesses: “I'm happy to admit that maybe I am a little depressed…'cause I'm missing you to death.” While it makes sense that such a bouncy rhythm with an uplifting message wouldn’t have been included on The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me – even had it not prematurely leaked – there’s really no way to logically deduce what happened to ‘Nobody Moves’, a track that feels tailor-made for that album. The song winds through seven minutes of celtic-sounding guitars, lullaby-like chimes, and gradually increasing intensity that travels through an imagined bank heist with hostages (“Nobody get any smart ideas…If we don't have any heroics we may just get out of here / We don't want trouble, and we'll take what we came for and we'll leave quiet”) all the way to the most epic instrumental breakdown and guitar solo in Brand New’s history. No seriously, it makes the solo in ‘Limousine’ sound amateur, which again begs the question as to why Lacey and company never made an effort to properly include it on an LP. Alas, it’s still one of the best songs the band has ever recorded in any capacity, and further bolsters Leaked Demos 2006 as a crucial piece in any fan’s collection.

‘Fork and Knife’ rounds out the list of TDAG castoffs; a beautiful song propelled by an unrelenting drum/piano sequence. Again dealing with growth/loss of innocence, Lacey pens some of his finest one-liners: “The closest thing we had to royalty / A chance to break our parents' pattern”, “We are dry and blown like dust since we were young / What we invented, I am now ending”, “I'm leaving you to nurture cherished wounds / And care for it just like your lover.” Leaked Demos, like a lot of the lyrics written for it, is a bittersweet creation. It’s unfinished work by a band that typically takes painstaking measures to achieve perfection. In that sense, there will always be an element of mystery. Could The Devil and God have reached even greater heights had it not been tampered with by leakers?What might some of these songs sound like fully remastered?Despite these questions pertaining to unfulfilled potential, we could also just as easily have never heard these songs in any capacity beyond their raw, initially-leaked state. At least Brand New saw it fit years later to revisit this collection and clean up the production. Thanks to that, this collection of demos will go down as Brand New’s greatest unofficial achievement.



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user ratings (166)
Chart.
4
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
February 7th 2019


29589 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I'm inching closer to yet another hundred-review-milestone. For the 4th time. Yikes.

Anyway, I just wanted to write about a release I really care about and this has always been on the backburner.

Digging: Copeland - Blushing

McTime50
February 7th 2019


829 Comments


All you gotta do is review the holiday EP and that'd be everything.

Digging: Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 7th 2019


29589 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I am still considering what to do for #400 so we'll see. I kinda doubt I'd do that though because it's mostly acoustic/demo versions of songs from YFW and Deja. Their cover of O Holy Night is downright haunting though -- might make for a good blog piece come Christmas.

ButtBoy
February 7th 2019


1896 Comments


Wait, you like Brand New?
lol nice write up. Glad someone else seems to appreciate Good Man as much as I do. Technically speaking, is this collection just the remastered version of Fight Off Your Demons? I get even more confused with the three songs that have a third version of them (3 Demos Reworked)

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2019


41239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sub 1996, Missing You and Nobody Moves in for Not the Sun, Untitled and Handcuffs and I really think TDAG would be the perfect album it coulda been. oh well



‘Fork and Knife’ rounds out the list of truly unreleased tracks




it actually got a release on iTunes not long after TDAG, fully mastered and a minute longer than the leaked demo (I think it's the exact same version on this remaster). fun facts

Digging: Copeland - Blushing

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 7th 2019


29589 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

This is the officially recognized-by-the-band title for the demos. Fight Off Your Demons was a term coined by fans for the raw leaks; this is those same songs cleaned up and properly produced. 3 Demos, Reworked took 3 of these songs and full mastered them.



@Rowan, thanks I thought I remembered that but wasn't sure. I will probably rephrase that sentence, although my main point is that it was never properly included on an album. *edit: found an easy way to convey the same idea - cheers!

McTime50
February 7th 2019


829 Comments


You really need to get on to listening to Jeff Rosenstock WORRY. cuz i don't see it in your ratings.

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 7th 2019


29589 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Yeah, I do love his contributions to Antarctigo Vespucci and his latest solo album was decent so it'd be worth taking a crack at.

McTime50
February 7th 2019


829 Comments


I actually think it's a modern masterpiece of pop punk music, so I hope you do.

anarchistfish
February 7th 2019


26816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

still some timeless tunes on this

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 7th 2019


29589 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

sub 1996, Missing You and Nobody Moves in for Not the Sun, Untitled and Handcuffs and I really think TDAG would be the perfect album it coulda been. oh well


Ooh. I agree with your premise that substitution(s) could be made that could make the album even perfect-er, but I disagree with the removal of 'Not the Sun.' Song is such a jam. As I stated in my review, as much as I adore 'Missing You', I think it would have sounded hella outta place on TDAG. Considering the album's atmosphere and darker dynamics, I'd say something like this might have maximized the record's overall quality:

1. Sowing Season (Yeah)

2. Millstone

3. Jesus Christ

4. Degausser

5. Limousine (MS Rebridge)

6. You Won't Know

7. Welcome to Bangkok

8. Not the Sun

9. 1996

10. Luca

11. Nobody Moves

12. The Archers' Bows Have Broken

13. Handcuffs

I'd say sub in Good Man for Handcuffs but again, I don't think the vibe of that song fits this album as well. Also, I didn't do a 1-for-1 swap because I couldn't bring myself to remove Welcome to Bangkok for any reason.

ButtBoy
February 7th 2019


1896 Comments


I don't know how Rosenstock got pulled into this, but absolutely yes anyone who hasn't listened to it needs to asap.

edit: and that tracklist would be perfect. I love handcuffs, it must stay.

McTime50
February 7th 2019


829 Comments


i was looking through sowings ratings to see if i could suggest a cool 400th and rosenstock not being there was a mini tragedy in it's own right.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2019


529 Comments


he could listen to a hip-hop album for the first time as well

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2019


529 Comments


good review, never really cared enough to listen to this but maybe i will now. i did listen to an 'unofficial' collection that had stuff like 'brothers' and 'aloc-acoc'

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 7th 2019


29589 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I was actually thinking of reviewing good kid, m.A.A.d city soon but I feel like I don't understand the "concept" on a deep enough level to write about it in any meaningful way

I mean there's the "I'm a white suburban kid who taught inner city and this album helped me understand the kids" but it's such a loose and underwhelming angle to take...regardless, the album is a classic and has become my favorite hip-hop record to date

Thanks, aloc-acoc and brothers are alright but 'nobody moves' is where it's at...that and 'missing you' are top 20 brand new songs despite the lack of production, and then '1996' and 'good man' are close behind. You can probably do without the rough copies of sowing season and luca, obviously they were reworked to sound better on TDAG and it's nothing new anyway

Slex
February 7th 2019


5669 Comments


Missing You is absolutely one of their very best songs
Band still makes me feel icky, great review tho bud

Digging: Every Time I Die - From Parts Unknown

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 7th 2019


29589 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Nah man I get it. Won't fault you.



Btw, in case anyone still hasn't heard the remastered 2015 version of 'Nobody Moves':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61QB03PlFAc

Ev1lToaster
February 7th 2019


144 Comments


"sub 1996, Missing You and Nobody Moves in for Not the Sun, Untitled and Handcuffs and I really think TDAG would be the perfect album it coulda been. oh well"

I definitely get omitting Untitled . . . maybe even Not the Sun (although it's a good song), but I'll never get the hate for Handcuffs. Even if it's not one of their better songs lyrically, it seems like the proper conclusion to Devil and God, for me.

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 7th 2019


29589 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I originally felt like Handcuffs was weak but I came around to it after a couple years. The middle part about waiting outside the court and taunting when all appeals are declined...just gives me chills for some reason. Not particularly jarring or brilliant lyrics, but there's something in the way he delivers it.



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