Brand new Cadillacs, brand new keys, brand new bags, brand new me’s: Brand New’s had an enviable three-decade run in pop music. Dead or Alive figured that “what I really need to do/Is find myself a brand new lover,” and everything would be fine. From what I remember, that was about the 17th-most-urgent thing Dead or Alive really needed to do, but the point is, when it comes to brand new it’s all good. But on Treble Charger’s “Brand New Low,” a perfect new single out of Toronto (available from www.treblecharger.com), brand new is instead something you sink to: “And I wanna know/Have I gone too far?/Have I sunk to a brand new low?”
“Brand New Low” joins Three Doors Down’s “Loser” in resurrecting the cult-of-the-loser song that was all over the radio in the mid ’90s. Christened by Beck (or maybe the Beatles), refined by the Offspring, Stone Temple Pilots, and Local H, the genre was seemingly killed off once and for all by the sublime deadpan of Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta.” But Treble Charger catch up slowly. Their “Even Grable” (1995), one of my favorite singles of recent years, was an anachronistic echo of Warehouse-era Hüsker Dü, with a story line as inscrutable as its title buzzing underneath majestic wash-and-chime.
“Even Grable” was all of a piece, whereas “Brand New Low” trickily meshes together sudden time-shifts, filtered and unfiltered vocals, and what seem like three different songs into one. It builds and it builds, and every time the band gets to an “And I wanna know . . . ,” the song takes off for the ether. Which is a paradox that helps explain why Treble Charger’s loser anthem is so much better than Three Doors Down’s draggier version: At the precise moment when Treble Charger start sinking, they’re soaring.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 16, 2001