Against all odds, the Warped Tour isn't the only chance you've got this week to catch overheated punk-inflected pop bands (or pop-inflected punk bands) sweating it out onstage for a few dollars and the opportunity to bleed American for 45 minutes or so. Brand New and Moneen hit The Door on Friday night, each touring behind new albums that veer away from pop-punk convention only to embrace a different but equally strict set of formal guidelines. Deja Entendu
, the second disc by Long Islanders Brand New (who actually do join the Warped Tour next week in Atlanta), finds these former breakup artists complicating their guitar-heavy attack with lots of unexpected melodic detours, legitimately grooving rhythms and in-studio effects more often found on icky Elliott and Chamberlain CDs. Surprisingly, some of their songs can withstand the frippery: "I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light" (one of many long-winded titles here) piles chunky electric-guitar noise atop a simple strummed acoustic pattern and ends up resembling a Travis for reformed frat boys.
Openers Moneen's Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now?, the Canadian outfit's first effort for California emo powerhouse Vagrant, doesn't display as firm a grasp on tunesmithery, so its aggro detailing and neo-prog structures don't go down as easily as Brand New's; everything's in its right place (including singers Kenny Bridges and Chris Hughes, who've got the singing-guy/screaming-guy thing down cold), but none of it ever goes anywhere, which it must with songs like "I Have Never Done Anything for Anyone That Was Not for Me As Well." That much is obvious.