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When I switch on the part of my brain that can rattle off those lines with the unneeded ease of a clap-on lamp, it is a surreal reminder of who I was and who I have become. I was 13 and living on the south shore of Long Island at the start of 2003, the exact moment when bands like Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, and Glassjaw were catapulting to national profiles and putting my own suburban scene on the alt-rock map.
Silent Majority were at least trying to be post-Fugazi male feminists, with songs like “Polar Bear Club” (from 1997’s ), which included a line hypothesizing about the year 2016: “I just bought a microphone for my kid,” singer Tommy Corrigan daydreams, “’Cause she’s trying out for a band.” But things changed on Long Island.
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Earlier this year, as Brand New was on the cusp of releasing a new record, I asked my male coworkers to Google the words “Brand New date rape song.” We were considering awarding Brand New’s fifth album the distinction of Best New Music, and I wanted my peers to be clear about this unsettling aspect of the band’s history. It goes, “I got desperate desires and unadmirable plans/My tongue will taste of gin and malicious intent/Bring you back to the bar/Get you out of the cold/My sober straight face gets you out of your clothes.” Lacey later sings such biting lines as “I almost feel sorry for what I’m gonna do” and “If you let me have my way I swear I’ll tear you apart.” Of course, Lacey has denied that these lyrics are autobiographical, claiming that he was describing a nightmare he feared; only a monster would accept these thoughts as his own.
“It’s been talked about for a while but it hasn’t actually been happening.” In her groundbreaking 2003 essay “Emo: Where the Girls Aren’t,” originally published in , Jessica Hopper was watching.
Her “deepest concerns,” she said, were for the girls clinging to the lip of the stage, front and center, “who are wanting to stake some claim to punk rock, or an underground avenue, for a way out.” The first time I read this, some years later, I cried at the reality of being seen in a space where I had believed no one was looking out for women.