This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

We can be the bands we wanna hear! We can define our own generation!

From the moment I heard the Crime 7", Against Me! instantly became one of my favorite bands. The slashing acoustic guitars and throat-shredding howls masked Tom Gabel's achingly gorgeous poetry. "I Still Love You, Julie" and "What We Worked For" brought back to punk the type of straightforward-yet-layered, honest self-reflection that's been missing since Blake Schwarzenbach became an English professor.

The releases that followed - the acoustic EP and the Reinventing Axl Rose full-length - only won them a devout following in the punk scene, cemented by their endless touring and killer shows (to this day they are probably the best live band I've ever seen). The bigger their following got, however, the less and less they could play unconventional venues like bowling alleys and basements. Their earliest fans felt a sense of, I dunno, betrayal, I guess, that they had to go see their favorite band in a club instead of a rec center.

THEN they signed to Fat Wreck, a previously shitty label that has, over the course of the last couple years, turned itself into one of the best ever punk labels. "Production quality!" fans howled. "Distribution! Gas money for the van!" (These are the same types who get pissed off when they hear the Weakerthans in a coffee shop and, to quote Mitch Clem, "fear money like cavemen fear fire.") THEN Tom Gabel stopped playing acoustic guitar mostly, as the band was evolving into a muscular rock band from their early roots as thrash-folk (quite a leap).

THEN, after two great albums on Fat, the band signed to...*drum roll*...a major label! That's right! Sire Records (who honestly has a better track record than most majors, even if they DO have Mandy Moore) pulled their heads out of their asses and realized good band writing good songs + devoted fanbase = $. Against Me! realized that the people who hated them for signing to Fat weren't buying their records anyway, so they might as well shoot to make their Big Budget Rock Album. Hell, Jawbreaker, Jawbox, and Shudder to Think did the same thing, and you don't hear anyone badmouthing them.

So after nearly a year of debate, speculation, anticipation, and people making good and bad judgements about the record without hearing a note of it, New Wave drops next week. I've heard it in all its Butch Vig-produced glory, and while it's easily their weakest record, Against Me! is like Bad Religion in the sense that even their worst album is still better than most bands A-material. You can hear the growing pains as they adapt from recording in makeshift studios to recording on a major label defense spending budget, but I can also hear them growing into this sound. Based on the evolution from Searching for a Former Clarity to New Wave, I have a feeling the next record is going to be a monster.

But what about the songs, you say? After a couple go-through, I have to say "Thrash Unreal" is the best song on here. They take a "ba ba ba" chorus and a bouncy bassline and shove them up against lyrics about a scene girl whose time has come and gone and all she has to show for it are track marks and an empty bed. "Some people just ain't the type for marriage and a family," Gabel sings, "there’s not a lie in the world that you could use to make the boys believe you're still in your twenties." The live staple "Americans Abroad" catches fire in the studio, while "Ocean" once again prove that for all Gabel's growling and guitar noise, he's still a poet at heart. Meanwhile, "Piss and Vinegar" takes to task all the AP-core bands that have found popularity - "the stage is not a pedestal!"

James Bowman's backing vocals are getting better and better, and the guitars are massive without sounding like they've had all the life and power drained out of them by a label worried about radio play. The honor students may have turned in a B-plus assignment, but as far as major label rock goes, they're still wrecking the curve for dipshits like Nickelback and Interpol.

New Wave:

Thrash Unreal:

White People For Peace:

Piss and Vinegar:


Anonymous max said...

awesome review... awesome cd... the best songs in my opinion are the first 3 songs on the cd... but its good to finally read a review of this cd that talks more about the songs than the label that released it. thanks for posting the songs for download... thrash unreal has got to be one of the best songs AM! has ever done.

4:27 AM


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