New Brigade

Written by: PP on 04/11/2011 05:06:20

The proof that the mainstream media and the hipsters in Denmark know next to nothing about actual punk rock is in iceage's debut album "New Brigade". Hailed as the best punk band to come out of the country by the likes of Soundvenue and Gaffa, not to mention a glowing review by Pitchfork, it just shows that the media and the ignorant masses haven't been paying any attention to what's been going on behind the scenes for the past couple of decades or so. For starters, "New Brigade" has about as much to do with 'punk' as Sonic Youth has to do with metal; yes there are hints of it in the rebellious undertones, but this is post-punk at most (or post punk revival as some are calling it).

Not that any of that actually matters, I just thought it's important to set a distinction between the actually awesome Danish punk scene (Stream City, Stars Burn Stripes, The Respirators, Mighty Midgets, The 20Belows...the bands are there if you care enough to look) and these guys. But even within its own genre, post-punk, this Joy Division worshipping garage ambiance outlines the reasons why so many people hate hipsterism with passion: it just sounds so goddamn pretentious and pompous. The echoing soundscape is ingenuine because it has been made to be so through studio tricks rather than as a result of actual DIY recording, yet it isn't difficult to see why this sort of sound would be a massive hit in metropolitan New York area: it embodies the claustrophobic feeling of a metropolis very well sonically. See the extremely underrated "No Tempo" by Boo And Boo Too for a very similar sound experiment.

"White Runes", "New Brigade", and especially "Broken Bone" are fantastic experiments in purposefully off-tune sonic exploration that results in that slightly distant and faded post-punk sound that the album thrives on. You also have to give credit where credit is due: the songs are pretty damn catchy once you approach them from a post-punk angle instead of the elitism that I started this review out with. Still, the remainder of the album can be a bit of a hit-and-miss type of ordeal. It's difficult to argue for any of the songs to be outright awful, but something like "Never Return" takes the experiment too far and sounds like a mess instead of the smooth flowing rebellion against the confinement of a big city that the rest of the album represents.

In the end, no matter how much you want to hate "New Brigade" for how pretentiously hipster it sounds by every measure, it deserves some credit for being a solid post-punk album overall. Think of it as a record for those people who honestly believe that punk died with the Sex Pistols back in the 70s because the mainstream media told them so. People who have likely never heard a single song by a band like Bad Religion or NOFX. And for those people, "New Brigade" is good. It's not the amazing, genre-defining album Pitchfork makes it out to be, nor an important piece of Danish rock history as Soundvenue puts it, but it's at the very least a unique-sounding record from Denmark that dares to sound different.


Download: White Rune, Broken Bone, New Brigade
For the fans of: Joy Division, Hüsker Dü, Boo And Boo Too, Wire
Listen: Myspace

Release date January 2011
Dais Records / Escho / Tambourhinoceros

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