Iceage is the kind of band that music critics slobber all over (and if you read music blogs, you’ll have heard about them already). This probably sounds like I’m insulting Iceage and music critics in one hastily written sentence, but be patient with me; I had to put that out there to get it out of the way.
Hearing “White Rune” for the first time was invigorating, to say the least. And to be fair to music critics, in part because I am one, there’s an awful lot of crappy music out there, so any hint of potential non-crap is pretty damn exciting to us.
New Brigade sounds like the long-lost debut album of a band that later transformed into something completely different, making fans wonder if their initial release was even created by the same band. If you heard Ministry’s post-1987 music before you heard their earlier stuff; the first three albums by Japan after you’d grown to love Gentlemen Take Polaroids; or compared Scritti Politti’s “Skank Bloc Bologna” to the same band’s “Perfect Way,” you will know of what I speak.
Okay, I’m doing it again. I’m getting ahead of myself and that’s exactly what I don’t want to do.
Let’s start again: New Brigade is not like what you’ve heard before. Although it definitely has the dissonant, angry, atonal vibe of that initial wave of late ’70s/early ’80s post-punk bands, it doesn’t seem to be aping any one band specifically. It’s so antithetical to so much of what’s currently popular, both from a mainstream, Top 40, American Idol perspective, and that of the underground or alternative music blogger who is always looking for the next big thing and the newest, freshest sound. Believe me, none of the songs from New Brigade will get played on mainstream radio; American Idol will not devote a episode to live covers of this band’s songs.
So by default, Iceage is left to the rest of us, which is great for both older music fans who grew up with the sound that Iceage evokes and those kids who are too young to have heard that sound and haven’t yet found it on YouTube or music blogs.
Because Iceage is the sound of youth. This is not the youth represented by Miley Cyrus, but the ones who do what the fuck they want and don’t care. Anytime you hear that, you have to pay attention and be a little bit excited. You know, if you’re not a humorless turd.
New Brigade is the kind of album that does not come around very often; it is raw, primal, exciting. It’s not perfect; this isn’t some slick product. In fact, cleaner and louder production would probably destroy the delicate balance of entropy going on in New Brigade. Much of it is a chaotic mess, with rapid fire drumming and jagged guitar riffs completely fighting with the thumpy bass and weird phased vocals. Half the time, it seems like Iceage can’t even keep a beat, but then they repeat the exact same thing later in a song, which is like some kind of musical savant maneuver that I can’t even wrap my head around.
When Iceage makes it work, by god, does it work. The best tracks—”White Rune,” “Rotting Heights,” “Broken Bone,” and “You’re Blessed”—are a superb stew of post-punk, noise, no wave, goth, and industrial. There are a few songs, like “Total Drench” and “Count Me In,” that have a more hardcore sound, and while these are not bad, they only hint at the potential of this band.
How all of this is possible in a scant 22 minutes is also somewhat astonishing, but that is also what makes it so good. I am genuinely intrigued by Iceage and I definitely want to hear more from them. I hope that the hype machine doesn’t destroy them. As it is, New Brigade teeters on the thrilling precipice between the purity of the band’s nascent talent and future brilliance.
Again, this is precisely what makes New Brigade so exciting and so worth hearing.
Tue. June 21: Pittsburgh, PA @ The Shop
Thu. June 23: New Haven, CT @ Popeye’s Garage
Fri. June 24: Boston, MA @ Royale Nightclub w/ F**ked UP, Jeff the Brotherhood
Sat. June 25: New York @ TBA
Thu. June 30: Sun. July 3: Roskilde, DE @ Roskilde Festival
Fri. July 15: Houston, TX @ The Mink
Sat. July 16: Austin, TX @ Emo’s
Tue. July 19: Phoenix, AZ @ The Yellow Canary Dancehall
Wed. July 20: Las Vegas, NV @ The Cave (right off of Warm Springs/Fort Apache) w/ Ill Bred, Seeds of Rape
Fri. July 22: San Diego, CA @ Casbah w/ Cult of Youth
Sat. July 24: Los Angeles, CA @ Echo w/ Cult of Youth
Mon. July 25: San Francisco, CA @ Elbo Room w/ Cult of Youth
Fri. July 29: Portland, OR @ The East End w/ Cult of Youth
Sat. July 30: Vancouver, BC @ Waldorf Hotel w/ Cult of Youth
Sun. July 31: Seattle, WA @ Crocodile
Tue. Aug. 2: Denver, CO @ Rhinoceropolis
Wed. Aug. 3: Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Music Hall
Thu. Aug. 4: Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock
Fri. Aug. 5: Madison, WI @ The Project Lodge
Sat. Aug. 6: Chicago, IL @ The Loft w/ Raw Nerve, Pollution, Pitfall
Tue. Aug. 9: Columbus, OH @ The Carabar w/ The Men
Wed. Aug. 10: Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
Thu. Aug. 11: Pittsburgh, PA @ The Shop
Fri. Aug. 12: Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
Sun. Aug. 14: Philadelphia, PA @ Kungfu Necktie
Mon. Aug. 15: Boston, MA @ Midway Cafe
Tue. Aug. 16: Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo
Wed. Aug. 17: Toronto, ON @ Parts and Labour
Fri. Aug. 19: Boston, MA @ Paragon
Sat. Aug. 20: New York, NY @ Cakeshop
Sun. Aug. 21: New York, NY @ Secret Project Robot