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Friday, March 30, 2007

We Dance to All the Wrong Songs

posted by on March 30 at 17:45 PM

Refused’s “New Noise” really is the best song ever (this week). The biggest “hit” the now defunct Swedish band ever had, “New Noise” is just one track on the unbelievably innovative, bombastic, and ballsy 1998 release The Shape of Punk to Come. The album was way ahead of its time—part jazz, part hardcore, all punk as fuck and chock full of art, ideas, and passion.

“New Noise,” is the album’s climax—it is the point where the music really starts to boil over. It sounds like a musical science experiment gone awry.

And how can we expect anyone to listen if we are using the same old voice? We need new noise, new art for the real people

I can’t even say enough about it right now. The song is energizing, empowering, and furious as hell. I include it on almost every mix CD I ever make.

If you’ve never heard “New Noise” before, please please please listen to it right now. There’s no better way to start a weekend. And if it scares you in the beginning and you’re tempted to turn it off, you absolutely must hang in there until the 3:50 mark, when the band comes close to exploding the entire world with their amplifiers. That, and the “woo” at 1:19 is what makes it the best song ever… this week.

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I don't see how the Refused are "part jazz" at all, other than co-opting their album name from Ornette Coleman.

It's a good album, but I'm not so sure about that song. However, it sure does fit perfectly well as a Superbowl theme song, as the movie "Friday Night Lights" demonstrated.

Posted by Benji | March 30, 2007 6:41 PM

Sorry, but as far as innovative 1990s hardcore bands go, the Refused are the Monkees to the Nation of Ulysses' Beatles (which isn't to say that they didn't have their merits, just like the Monkees, but rather that they fell far short of the band they were attempting to emulate). For all the ways in which it apes Plays Pretty For Baby (even the liner notes are a blatant rip-off) The Shape of Punk to Come may as well have been titled Ian Svenonious, I Wish I Was You. Their singer even went on to start International Noise Conspiracy, a sub-par knock-off of post-NOU spinoff the Make-Up.

Posted by R | March 30, 2007 10:07 PM

You don't hear any jazz-inspired parts in any of the drumming, Benji? That's where I hear it most, in the drums. It's not all the time, obviously, but I definitely think the band was inspired by some avant jazz at times, especially rhythmically. "Protest Song 68" is the example that comes to mind right now. I dunno. Maybe I'm reaching with that?

Also, I see your point, R. And I don't completely disagree. I don't know that I'd say the Refused fall short doing anything, though. That makes it sound like a failure, and I consider it a really successful record on its own.

I have always thought of International Noise Conspiracy as being pretty sub-par, though. You're right about that.

Posted by Megan Seling | March 30, 2007 10:39 PM

Hey Megan,

Where do we go to complain to Zwickel about his opinions on violins in rock - he's totally off-base in his Andrew Bird review.

Posted by Jeff | March 31, 2007 1:55 PM

Thanks for posting this, Megan -- I *heart* Refused, and especially this weird-ass video.

Refused may not be the most innovative band that's ever flickered through the scene, but they were head and shoulders above most of their stuck-in-a-rut punk/hardcore contemporaries and successors. "The Shape of Punk to Come" was way more experimental and genre-challenging than "Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent", and it's a crime that we didn't get to see what might have followed. (TINC emphatically did NOT fulfill that promise.)

Has anybody seen the DVD they put out recently? I heard it was fairly disappointing...

Posted by Bryan in the UK | March 31, 2007 4:46 PM

Thank you for reminding me to pull out my copy of the CD. I haven't listened to it for a while and hearing that song is hitting the spot. A nice complement to hearing "In on the Killtaker" and the Bellrays earlier today.

Posted by BFDS | March 31, 2007 10:46 PM

Bryan, if you ever see the DVD do not buy it. It was one of the most wretched 'films' I have ever seen. The old live footage was pretty substandard and they seemed more intent on filling it with some abstract, artistic direction than any content about the band. One of the biggst disappointments for something I waited so long to be released.

Posted by Peter | April 1, 2007 10:10 AM

Thanks Megan! This is one of Top Ten favorite songs of all time!!

Posted by Scottie | April 2, 2007 12:49 PM

-- refused changed my life, actually... glad to have seen them live before they broke up. amazing!

Posted by Aaro)))n Edge | April 2, 2007 12:50 PM

hey jeff--and the rest of you fans of the violin--you can always email me at

Posted by jz | April 2, 2007 4:32 PM

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