The Brokedowns - New Brains for Everyone (Cover Artwork)

The Brokedowns

New Brains for Everyone (2007)


Well, as Jesse, the reviewer for the previous album from the Brokedowns put it, it's just far too easy to look at the Brokedowns and point out the comparisons to other bands. Unfortunately, I'm far from being a professional writer or a credible staff member of Punknews to come up with any other possible ways to describe this band. The fact is the Brokedowns draw a tremendous amount of influence from Dillinger Four. They also sound similar to wonderful contemporaries such as Toys That Kill and Off with Their Heads. Hell, they also draw in a great influence from the likes of Chicago's the Arrivals. It's hard to ignore these facts and they're very simple for me to state. However, there is a significant difference from being just another rip-off band of this sound and being a band that can that add their own personal touch to this sound and spawn off into something that's completely enjoyable on its own. New Brains for Everyone is proof of this.

With their THICK Records debut, the Brokedowns take all the best elements from 2006's These Colors Don't Run (The Musical) and they perfect it into one loud, short burst of energy. There is less focus put into writing silly song titles and more work into writing good overall songs. More sweat is put into playing songs that sound so good you‘d almost believe they could pop out of your speakers and bash your head in. The production for this album is just right where it needs to be for this band. Nothing on this album sounds way too polished and clean and yet nothing sounds sloppy, crude, or amateur. It's that perfect mix that you expect from any hard working mid-western punk band.

The strength of this album also lies on the fact that every song -- spare for the closing track -- is short, fast, and to the point. Twelve songs come and go within 28 minutes before you even realize it. It's actually very refreshing to know that nothing is intentionally dragged out to the point of boredom; it's the way that punk songs should be. Out of the 12 songs total on New Brains, 11 of them fit in the average time range of one and a half minutes-to-two and a half minutes.

Songs like "New Brains," "Who Stabbed Sean Spencer," "We Are Billionares," and "We Don't Buy Nothing (We Buy Everything)" all grab you with powerful vocals, catchy choruses and fast riffs, and they don't let you go until they're done. The highlight of this album has to be "Year of the Hydra." I'm not an expert in interpreting songs so I can only assume it to be a criticism of our culture of fixing everything with prescription pills, with an infectious chorus of "red pills, red pills, always eat the red pills." The closing track "Coke Mule Blues" clocks in at seven minutes. I almost thought they went crazy until I realized the length of time just fits the song so well as the closing track to the album. It starts off powerful just as any other song on here, chugs on relentlessly in the middle with a wonderful chorus of "everything will be just fine, chalk it up to coke mule blues," and ends you with some lone drums sputtering off to an anti-climatic climax.

Overall, I think the Brokedowns have proven a vital point with New Brains for Everyone. Even though some critics can easily write you off for sounding too much like your influences, you can add your own thumbprint to the sound of your influences and make something that sounds really fun, creative, worthwhile, and different. These boys from Elgin, Illinois are yet another reason why I'm glad that I live so close to Chicago.