Brand New / Daisy / Interscope
Back in 2001, if you and your friends had been listening to Brand New’s debut album Your Favourite Weapon and you’d said “hey, this kind of sounds like Refused,” you probably would have been laughed out of the room – or been asked who Refused was. Well, such has been Brand New’s progression over these last 8 or 9 years that what once seemed like no more than just another pop-punk outfit has, over the course of four increasingly complex albums, become a Janus-faced beast resistant to all but the most hyphenated of genres. Daisy embodies the emotions of a frightened and wounded predator, suddenly lashing out in furious rage (“Vices,” “Sink”) before turning to whimpered accusations (“You Stole”) – and more than a little enigmatic (“Be Gone”).
Download: “At The Bottom”, “Sink”, “Bought a Bride”
Every Time I Die / New Junk Aesthetic / Epitaph
Some bands might claim to be heavier than Buffalo metalcore quartet Every Time I Die, but those bands are fools. On paper, the mathematical formula for the group doesn’t seem all that extraordinary – but after giving them a listen (or, God help you, seeing them live in concert) you will reach a drastically different conclusion. That’s because, in the ETID formula, lead singer, badass, sex symbol, and divine angel for the good of all mankind Keith Buckley is an exponent that amplifies everything done by his band mates by a factor of twelve. If Dallas Green and George Pettit from Alexisonfire were fused together in a bizarre medical accident, that two-headed monstrosity would still be unable to keep up with Buckley’s powerfully expressive vocals. Speaking of bizarre medical accidents, it’s just these kinds of grim topics Buckley chooses as topics for ETID songs, but somehow he’s able to make them seem like a lot fun. In “Host Disorder,” amidst raucous guitar and hand claps, he describes cancer as being a guest crashing a party, staying longer than all the other guests, pouring itself a drink and requesting another song. If ETID is playing, that sounds like a good idea to me.
Download: “Wanderlust”, “White Smoke”
Pearl Jam / Backspacer / Universal
With Backspacer, the first full length from Pearl Jam since 2006, the band has put together not only some of their best songs in years, but also easily topped their 2006 self-titled album. Backspacer, which clocks in at less than 40 minutes, features some great straightforward rock songs, but might not please fans of the band’s grunge past. As demonstrated on low key tracks “Just Breathe” and “Unthought Known,” the album has plenty of instances where Eddie Vedder’s unmistakable voice takes on the warm vulnerable tone of classic PJ, but rarely does he sound righteously pissed off; quite the opposite, in fact. “The Fixer,” the lead single, finds the band sounding more upbeat than they might have ever sounded before – even featuring a “Yeah yeah yeah” chorus. A grunge act no more, Pearl Jam proves that they can comfortably act the part of a modern alt-rock or (gasp) pop-rock group.
Download: “Got Some”, “Amongst The Waves”
Muse / The Resistance / Warner
Muse’s fifth studio album is as politically charged as it is theatrical. There’s some dynamic synth present that fans of older tracks like “Knights of Cydonia” will recognize, but, instead of spending the album sending listeners’ hearts and heads into overdrive, the band spends much of Resistance building and developing sprawling epics. Ambitious? Yes. A non-stop thrilling listen? Not really. Though many lyrics heard on the album encourage rebellious attitudes out in the streets, the music is more appropriate for slow jams out on the dance floor.
Download: ““Resistance”, “Undisclosed Desires”