Brand New has a pretty diehard following, and fans mostly know lead singer Jesse Lacey for his sometimes lilting, often scratching vocals. Oh, and his yells. But the frontman has a melodic side to him, as well (which could be why the band has outlasted so many of their peers). That side shines through with marvelous reverence on a new cover of the R.E.M. classic “Bad Day”.
Anyone expecting the alternative rock to bring the noise on this track is in for a surprise, as Lacey channels ’80s pop like it was his calling all along. Though lacking the driving percussion of the original, the track may actually up the tempo on Michael Stipe’s constantly tongue tripping lyrics. Lacey handles it more than deftly, and the final result is a completely perfect homage from one beloved artist to another.
Take a listen down yonder.
Lacey’s take on “Bad Day” comes from the latest release in Kevin Devine’s Devinyl Splits series. The sixth and final entry in the series is due out March 25th via Bad Timing Records and sees Devine himself tackling another R.E.M. song, “Imitation of Life”. Here’s what Devine has to say about why he and Lacey chose to pay tribute to the band:
“R.E.M. is an all-time favorite, a blueprint band, open-hearted & mysterious, slanted, iconic, quintessentially American. They’re the first concert I ever saw – 1994, Monster tour, Nassau Coliseum – where, 15 years later, we’d open for Brand New, a very cool moment for us that was obviously way-cooler moment for them. I like that both of us chose great 2000s songs for the split & not halcyon days highlights (although I guess ‘Bad Day’ gets an asterisk as it was kicking around unfinished/released since the late 80s). I think Jesse’s cover is super appealing, faithfully his own, and reveals the melodic/structural/stylistic traces of R.E.M. I’ve always heard in certain bits of what Brand New does. It’s also particularly appropriate lyrically given our current what-the-fuck-is-happening political disaster-in-the-making. ‘Broadcast me a joyful noise’ – amen, amen, amen.”
For reference, here’s the original “Bad Day”: