It's impossible to talk about the New Year without dwelling on the past. The music that Bubba and Matt Kadane made as part of their beloved former band Bedhead is the metric by which every song they write now is judged -- they are slammed for being too similar, slammed for being too different. "We kinda can't win," says guitarist/sometime vocalist Bubba Kadane. "It clouds everything we do, for good or bad."
So we must talk about the past, which begins more or less in Dallas in 1991, when the two brothers formed a quintet whose creeping tempo and intertwining guitars helped form the blueprint for a generation of so-called slowcore musicians. Like the Velvet Underground and Uncle Tupelo, Bedhead didn't sell many records, but the ones they did sell landed in the hands of future musicians and rock critics; they are the kind of artful, lingering constructions that seduce musicologists. But at the height of their popularity and creative prowess, Bedhead disbanded.
In 2001, under the name the New Year, the Kadanes released Newness Ends,¦produced by indie legend Steve Albini. It's a brooding album, inspired partly by Matt Kadane's divorce. The band's latest, The End Is Near, is dark and downbeat throughout -- which isn't to suggest that it's despairing. In fact, the splendid burst of sound at the end of "18" seems more like a battle cry against growing older.
"When you're playing, and the sound is completely surrounding you, and it's loud, it sometimes seems like you're reaching people who aren't here anymore," Bubba says. "Just a particular stage on a particular night when it envelops you completely, you feel like the music is going someplace else. Like there's something to be accomplished by doing it."