The New Year: The End Is Near

Jason Korenkiewicz

The New Year

The End Is Near

Label: Touch and Go
US Release Date: 2004-05-18
UK Release Date: 2004-06-07

Whenever the Kadane brothers blow into town it's a certainty that you're in for a musical experience destined to tug on both your mind and soul. They have pulled up in front of the saloon with their first new full-length with their band The New Year in three years and it feels like they never left. Maintaining many of the same structures and themes that made their previous band Bedhead such a cult success in the 1990s, The New Year's sophomore release The End is Near finds the band delving further into the musical molasses that made their debut Newness Ends such a grassroots hit. Their arrangements have slowed since their debut taking on more of the sticky sweet pace that made a name for Bedhead, while the lyrics detail internal struggles to cope with the mundane decisions of daily life. The End Is Near is in no way a departure for The New Year, instead the band has nestled itself further inside it's trademark sound and is expanding outwards to create a suitably rich and textured album.

From the opening piano chords of "The End Is Not Near" it is clear that we've been welcomed back into the same Technicolor haze of the debut. Bubba and Matt Kadane's guitar interplay is expertly planned to create a delicate wall of clean electric guitar with subtle overtones of distorted guitar folding in and out of the mix. The vocals are monotone and mellow but real emotion seeps through the collected cool as Kadane pronounces the end of days couplet, "The end's not near/ It's here."

Both "Sinking Ship" and "Chinese Handcuffs" are rave-ups by New Year standards. The drumming of former Come skins man Chris Brokaw anchors the shambling beat of "Sinking Ship" to the fractured acoustic guitar that flits in the background. The track wouldn't have sounded out of place on Sparklehorse's It's a Wonderful Life as Kadane uses searing psychedelic imagery similar to Mark Linkous' as he drops the line "I just wanna get outta here/ And unhook my smile from my ears." Former Saturnine bassist Mike Donofrio lays down a heavy groove as the foundation for the seething "Chinese Handcuffs". A full band roar explodes out of the choruses in an unexpected minor key rage that illustrates an outstanding command of the emo quiet-loud dynamics. These two tracks showcase the ability of The New Year to utilize a variety of arrangements in their band line-up to stunning effect.

On "Plan B", perhaps the finest track on the album, Kadane sounds like the lovechild of Stephen Malkmus and Leonard Cohen. He emotes like a disenchanted coffeehouse clerk who just served his hundredth half-caff cappuccino of the day, voice shaking with pent up rage and a symbiotic caffeine kick that splays itself across the song. The band shimmers and shines in a rare up-tempo showing that recalls the title track from their debut album. College radio best keeps its ears open for this one.

"Disease" carries the rage into a slightly more dirge-like direction with a venomous take on the nature of a God that would bring death and suffering into the world. The epic eight-minute "18" is more of a slow burn. It builds from gently strummed clean electric guitars into a full band arrangement before Kadane gives up the ghost and starts singing at the three-minute mark. The song continues in the same direction adding washes of guitar leads and a rock steady performance from the rhythm section, revealing The New Year's debt to slow-core luminaries Galaxie 500.

Is it wrong to say a pioneer cannot walk the same path twice? We all herald the arrival of a new man on the moon as if it's the second coming of Neil Armstrong. Music fans and critics alike are quick to pass off this sort of second pass as a rehash or a re-warmed version of the original. In the case of The New Year's second album The End is Near, the band has returned to their winning formula to correct their past mistakes and provide an appreciated update on the ideas outlined in their debut. Despite the sonic and lyrical similarity to Newness Ends, the band has met the challenge head-on and crafted an exquisite album that stands above its dour title and outlook.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.