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Cold Fronts Detail New EP, Announce Tour Dates

Cold frontsPhiladelphia Indie rock outfit Cold Fronts have released details of their upcoming EP, Forever, which is due to drop on November 4th via Sire Records. The 4 track EP represents the bands first output since signing on with the label and the lead single, Hit Me, (streaming here) documents their journey from DIY roots to major label and frontman Craig Almquist had this to say about the song:

 “It’s specifically about when we were signing to sire and how it felt like such a gamble to go with such a big label…We’re referring to Blackjack. It’s like saying ‘give me the next card and let’s see if it pays off.’ Maybe we’ll hit 21 or maybe we’ll go bust, either way we prefer the unknown, fuck it.”

Cold Fronts are also hitting the road in November alongside Chicago indie band Empires. Check out the Forever cover art and the full list of tour dates below.

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Body Of War: Songs That Inspired An Iraq War Veteran

Various Artists

Body Of War: Songs That Inspired An Iraq War Veteran

Sire Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Music is powerful. It is an art form that can help people through hard times, unite people, crush barriers and inspire. A well written song can surpass nationalities, languages and time. It can be relatable to everyone and anyone, no matter the time, place or setting. Body Of War: Songs That Inspired An Iraq War Veteran reminded me of this.

First we should get a little back-story on this release . It is an informal soundtrack to the documentary Body of War, which tells the story of Iraq war veteran Tomas Young, who, at 22, joined the U.S. military a few days after 9/11 to fight those responsible for the attacks. Two years later, instead of being sent to Afghanistan, Tomas was deployed to Iraq where he was shot and paralyzed from the chest down after serving only five days.

What that means is that Body Of War is a two disc, thirty song collection of songs that help support Young as he became accustomed to his new physical limitations. So yes, the songs are politically driven and all of these songs had been released before in some form or another between 1971 and 2008. Normally, a compilation with no unreleased tracks would be slightly disappointing but not here. The songs are powerful, emotional and work well enough together that you don’t need the hidden gems; instead they’re all gems.

Despite starting off with a slow pop-driven song by Brendan James, disc one of the compilation is a much harder disc than it’s follower. The songs are angrier, more rock-oriented and for the most part are newer songs with the oldest tracks being No Use For A Name‘s 1995 song Fields Of Agony. The disc features some well known punk acts like Bad Religion, The Bouncing Souls, RX Bandits andAgainst Me! alongside some more rock bands like Rage Against The Machine, System of A Down (and a solo song by Serj Tankian) and a brand new, unreleased, live song by Eddie Vedder which was written specifically for Young.

Unfortunately, disc one of Body Of War isn’t as strong as one would hope even with the great list of bands. It stumbles due to it’s lack of cohesion which makes it feel somewhat disjointed. In all honesty though, the problem comes from my lack of musical identity because even though this is the heavier side of the disc, it is also the R&B and hip-hop side of the disc. These songs are strong enough I’m sure, but I’m unable to relate to the style for the most part and thus the songs by Lupe Fiasco, Dilated Peoples, Immortal Technique, Talib Kweli and Michael Franti & Spearhead feel out of place to me and hinder the flow of the album.

Disc two does not suffer from that problem and it shines because of it. In dire contrast to it’s predecessor, the second disc collected by Young is much simpler, more folk based and a collection a singer/songwriter protest songs. It starts off with Springsteen‘s Devil & Dust and right away the song hits you. It then goes on to Pearl Jam doing a live cover of Bob Dylan‘s Masters Of WarBright Eyes, John Lennon, Neil Young, The Nightwatchman and more. Kimya Dawson, who receive recent fame for the Juno soundtrack, supplies a surprising but moving song with Anthrax and Tori Amosgives a beautiful minute and a half song.The highlight of the disc and the entire compilation is State Of Union by British singer-songwriter David Ford which sounds like the song Connor O’Berst wishes he had been able to write. The only problem on the second disc are the tracks by Ben Harper and Roger Waters; both of which are too loud to fit in the flow of the second disc and would have felt more at home on the first disc.

The two discs are vastly different from one another, nevertheless, they are still united not only by the politically driven nature of the songs but also by the simple reminder that music can be, and is, very powerful.

Tom Gabel- Heart Burns

Tom Gabel

Heart Burns

Sire Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Many, many months ago some live videos of Tom Gabel leaked onto the internet. It was an entire set of new, solo material that he performed at Emo’s in Austin and man was it great. Despite the less than stellar sound quality, the songs sounded great. They were raw, intense and aggressive – a throw back to Against Me!‘s Reinventing Axl Rose years; and they got people excited. Then, in September Gabel was added to a highly anticipated solo tour of Chuck Ragan, Tim Barry and Ben Nichols which was soon followed by an announcement that he was in the studio recording those songs. A few days later the date was set, Heart Burns would see the light of day in less than a month and with each passing week Gabel released a new video with a new song from the EP online.

But despite all of that excitement, Heart Burns still came as a surprise and it didn’t sound remotely similar to what I was expecting. You see, the studio versions of the songs aren’t nearly as raw or stripped down as either the live videos at Emo’s or the live videos that Gabel released to promote the EP. Instead, all seven songs contain a lot more padding and additional little tweaks which is sometimes great and sometimes disappointing.

The biggest disappointment is definitely Anna Is A Stool Pigeon. The song was one of the highlights of the live clips because of its raw ferocity. Gabel unrelentlessly attacked an undercover FBI agent and successfully got the listener riled up. It was an angry protest song depicting a love story gone wrong amidst a thriving political back story. On Heart BurnsAnna Is A Stool Pigeon seems to be lacking some of that anger and doesn’t piss off the listener. The addition of the harmonica by Chuck Ragan is a nice touch but the song feels a little too polished and upbeat. It has a stronger pop tendency than it should have and while it still remains a solid song, it lacks something that was present in those live videos. Another shocking change comes from the opening seconds of the EP on Random Hearts. It starts off with some loops and beats which would fit better within a Blaqk Audio or Heavens release than something from the Against Me! front man. Luckily his vocals are able to save the song but it still remains a slightly off putting opener.

But sometimes those extra few elements are able to really propel the song forward and make them stronger than they would be by themselves. Take Conceptual Paths who doesn’t use Gabel‘s guitar as the backbone but instead a bass drum kick that was absent in the live videos. On Harsh Realms it is the production quality that shines through as Gabel‘s vocals are delivered through a reverb microphone and with an echo style. Its an extremely simple song and the vocal delivery helps to emphasize that. 100 Years Of War, on the other hand, goes in the completely opposite direction. It starts off like Conceptual Pathswith a bass kick drive and angry acoustic guitar riffs but soon expands with some perfectly placed background vocals from the Eagle Rock Choir. It transforms the song from a sparse simple one into a much bigger and uniting song and works surprisingly well.

Overall though, Gabel has released an EP that you may not have expected to hear but works really well nonetheless. There’s only two things that could have made this record better and that is if Anna Is A Stool Pigeon wasn’t as polished as it is on here and if he had released I Can’t See You but I Know You’re There. That was by far the best song from the Emo’s set list and is leaves a big void on the EP. Other than that though, fans of Against me! – both old and new – will thoroughly enjoy it.

 

Tegan and Sara - The Con

Tegan and Sara

The Con

Sire Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Despite what most people think, punks are relatively open minded. While they will always bitch and complain and yell “sell out” and claim that “punk” is the only acceptable style of music, they’re normally not afraid to branch out and listen to different acts. That, in a way, is the beauty of punk and why it has evolved so much to encompass so many sounds and styles; because the general idea is simply that if the music is good and the ideology is true than it’s acceptable to listen to. That’s why people like Greg Graffin, Chuck Ragan, Dallas Green and Tim Barry are able to break free from their revered punk acts and release solo records that are a completely opposite sound. That’s why someone who abides by Minor Threat and Bad Brains will happily skank along to Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto. That’s why Tegan Quinn appeared on the new Against Me! record. That’s why a group like Meg & Dia can play acoustically on the Warped Tour without being harassed. If the music can survive by itself and the people behind it are true to their ideals then most “punks” will at least give them a chance to prove themselves and that’s why The Con will be accepted openly by many despite the fact that it is a pure pop record.

You see, Tegan and Sara are talented and phenomenal musicians. While yes, their album is purely pop in construction, it is much more passionate and intelligent than most. Soft and melodic, The Con is a fourteen track album seeped in soaring vocal melodies with a diverse musical background to boot. While their previous release, So Jealous, was focused more on the dueling vocals and simple guitar riff, The Con sees them expanding and attempting to incorporate newer styles into their musical tool shed. Bringing in the piano with a much stronger force than before, Tegan and Sara throw in numerous throwbacks to 80’s new wave with synths and keyboards – particularly on Are You Ten Years Ago? and Hop A Plane which is full of distorted keyboard melodies of which the main one sounds remarkably like a poppier version of the introduction to The Falcon‘s La-Z-Boy 500.

The Con is still based around the vocal harmonies of the sisters though as each set of vocals build on top of one another. Nineteen and Call If Off see the vocals build constantly in intensity and explode with passion and emotion and while some songs, Dark Come Soon and Soil, Soil, are sparse and simplistic other tracks like Back In Your Head and The Con are much more complex as they encompass a heavier tone and stronger beat to them. This diversity enables to listener to enjoy the album the whole way through as it doesn’t become repetitive or generic but instead each song is able to capture the listener’s attention.

Yes, Tegan and Sara are the furthest thing from “punk” is a traditional sense but that does not take away from the fact that The Con is a great album. It’s passionate, catchy, diverse and well written; which is more than you can say about a lot of the releases coming out from the punk underground these days.

Less Than Jake - In With The Out Crowd

Less Than Jake

In With The Out Crowd

Sire Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

I’m a geek.

I love sitting on the computer reading online comics, I even have a wide list in my favorites specifically for when I feel the need to go and read my online comics. Some are the accepted punk comics, like the famed Nothing Nice To Say, others are more game oriented like Penny Arcade. One of my favorites is a little less known ska comic, called 21 Dead Monkeys. There is a comic on there about Less Than Jake‘s new album In With The Out Crowd which describes the album to a t. You can read that comic right here.

As you can see, Hoss, the loveable character is quite agitated with the new album, like many fans were. It just doesn’t have that same punch Less Than Jake normally delivers. But then you think about it a bit more, and you start to see the good songs amongst the passable. You listen to it a bit more and those good songs become more and more and the passable less and less. You start to pick out the little parts which made you fall in love with Less Than Jake in the first place. The classic ska upstroke is still there, particularly on Let Her Go, which gets you skanking in your seat. Chris’ more punk rock, rawer vocals are still there and ever present, slowly climbing into your skull and getting you to sing along. The more you listen, the more you realize that it’s still Less Than Jake.

The biggest change in the album is carefully pinpointed in the third frame of the 21 Dead Monkeys cartoons, and that is the odd lack of horns on In With The Out Crowd. Upon first listen, the horns are few and far between except for a few standout tracks like PS. Shock The World and Mostly Memories where the songs kick in with a burst of sax and trombones. But as you listen to it a bit more, you see the horn selection layered carefully in the background of most of the songs. This is a great pity, because they were mixed better than the songs would be that much more entertaining. But the way it is, the songs miss that punch unless you pay a lot of attention to search for them. But as Hoss pointed out, these songs would sound amazing live.

There’s no denying that In With The Out Crowd has a fair few great songs, like The Rest Of My Life (which is surprisingly slow), Landmines And Landslides, Soundtrack Of My Life or Hopeless Caseto name a few; but it is still far from being the band’s shining accomplishment. Although, if giving the chance, most Less Than Jake fans will still truly enjoy it, once they look past the slight overproduction.

Less Than Jake - B is for Bsides

Less Than Jake

B is for B-Sides

Sire Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

When bands go into the studio to record a new album, they almost always record more songs then they have on the actual release. Most of the time you, as a fan, will never get a chance to hear those mysterious extra songs that were recorded but never released. Less Than Jake decided to help you with this, thus B Is For B-sides was created and release.

It features twelve tracks that were recorded during the Anthem recording sessions, and were, for some reason or another, not added to the final copy of Anthem. Although I, personally, was really impressed with Anthem, there were a lot of people saying it was too smooth, too polished, just not raw enough. Those people who thought that will be happily surprised with B Is For Besides who’s songs are a lot more raw and unpolished. It’s obvious that they didn’t spend quite as much time polishing the songs up, and they sound good this way.

Musically, you get what you’d expect from Less Than Jake. Energetic, fun, ska/punk songs. They don’t tread new ground as far as lyrics, still singing about growing up, wanting to leave, and just life in general. The vocals are nice and nasally, but still easy to understand. Although, you will need a lyrics sheet if you want to sing along right away. Surprisingly, the horns seem to be a bit soft and really in the background. I think it would’ve been better if they brought them up a bit and made them just a bit more evident.

Not many bands would be able to make an album out of leftover songs and have that album still be a good one. Less Than Jake are able to do that here. It is rumored that Less Than Jake recorded 29 tracks during their Anthem recording sessions, but if you put both discs together you only get 26 tracks; where are the final three? I have no idea. Maybe they will show up on a compilation, or will be re-recorded for a new release, or maybe we’ll never be able to hear them. But no matter what, we can be very happy with the 26 songs that we have had the opportunity to hear from their recording sessions.

Hot Hot Heat - Happiness Ltd.

Hot Hot Heat

Happiness Ltd.

Sire Records
By

Rating: 1.5/5

 
 

 

 

I’ve never been a massive Hot Hot Heat supporter, but I would consider myself a fan. After all, Elevator was an energetic and entertaining release and they were always a band that were able to pull their sound off live. It made it so that even when it was poring rain, I still had a fun time watching them perform on stage. So despite not being a massive supporter, I was still rather excited for Happiness Ltd.; unfortunately though, Hot Hot Heat have failed to build on the success of Elevator and have given their fans a CD that will be forgotten in a week or so.

Right from the start, Happiness Ltd. stumbles as the title-track practically puts the listener to sleep. The five minute long track opens up with an interesting couplet of Happiness is limited but misery has no end/ Give us somewhere we can go instead of one more dead end but the rest of the song falls flat. It’s way too long and slow,making it so the listener almost falls asleep and is instantly doubting the CD. There’s no energy or catchiness that were rampant on Elevator, instead the song is inexplicably bland. So right away the listener is disappointed, and this is only the first track with ten left to sit though.

Luckily, bhe band picks it up slightly with Let Me In as the second track is able to bring back the new wave goodness that Hot Hot Heat were known for and you can’t help but feel as if this would’ve been the right track to open the CD with. Sadly, even if they had used this to open the album with, the rest of the CD tends to follow more in the vein of Happiness Ltd. rather than Let Me In (with Harmonicas & Tambourines being the major exception to that). All the songs follow the same lethargic pattern as the opening track making for a very long and dull release. Steve Bays’ vocals are still strong but he isn’t spitting the lyrics out at the same speed that he used to and instead seems to be holding back which doesn’t do anybody any good.

On top of that, all the songs seem very, very repetitive. Not repetitive between one another, but rather repetitive within themselves. At least the last minute of every song could easily be eliminated as they just repeat the same melody and line over and over and over again, lengthening each song to somewhere between four and five minutes. In my opinion, if you can’t think of anything new to add to the song, just end the song instead of spitting out the same lines twenty some times. Then the fact that they use the fade out effect too really adds to the cheesiness factor.

So despite this being their third album, I’ll still chock this one up as a sophomore slump. It’s not that the songs are absolutely terrible, they’re just incredibly bland and repetitive and missing that energetic vibe that characterized them in previous records; so much so that in a few weeks you won’t even remember you have it.

Hot Hot Heat - Elevator

Hot Hot Heat

Elevator

Sire Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

I was never a fan of Hot Hot Heat, although their break through album, Make Up The Breakdown, received a ton of good press and put them on the path of slight popularity, I never really got into it. The few songs I heard for it, I immediately dismissed. But then I heard they were coming to town and I figured its about time I try and give them a listen to see if I wanted to go or not. The fact that they just released their third album, Elevator, gave me the perfect opportunity to do so; and it easily gave the me the reasons to go see them.

The sythn-pop-punk band could easily be compared to many of the new wave mid-80’s revivalists that are flogging the airwaves these days, but having been around for longer before hand gives them a bit more credibility and diversity. The fact that most of the songs revolve around the poppy,upbeat melodies of Steve Bays’ keyboard add a little extra umph to the songs, something that is lacking in many of the new waves rock recitalist.

While songs like Ladies And Gentleman, No Jokes – Fact (which is just a instrumental) and Middle Of Nowhere could easily be pass over without missing a beat, songs like Shame On You, Dirty Mouth, Pickin’ It Up and Goodnight Goodnight sometimes force the listener to reach for repeat. The songs are danceable, catchy, toe-tapping and fun. Bays Britishly laced accent gets stuck in your brain as you hum the choruses day and night all without becoming too obnoxious. Lyrically, Hot Hot Heat aren’t anything spectacular, and are even sub-par at times, but they get the job down. They are simple, direct, and catchy making it easy to sing along with while you dance around.

Will Elevator stand the test of time? Probably not. In a few months, it will rarely find its way into your CD player; but on the few occasions it does, you won’t dismiss it but rather still enjoy its catchy, dancy melodies. And intriguingly, the band skipped track thirteen like some superstitious people do with real elevators and just fill it in with a 4 sec dead air piece.

The Distillers - Coral Fang

The Distillers

Coral Fang

Sire Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Brody is back with her gang of punks to bring their 3rd record entitled Coral Fang. Now with a new guitarist in the band, Tony Bradley, The Distillers are a nice little fourpiece punk band from “the city of assholes”. Despite some incredibly odd artwork, this album has lived up to the band’s potential.

Brody Dale (no longer Brody Armstrong) still has her unique voice. A female vocalist with scratchy and harsh vocals is somewhat rare theses days. The Distillers bring a nice new sound to the tell with her fronting the punk band. That makes the album stick out by itself. Adding an extra guitarist to the band made their musical portions slightly stronger and more powerful. Because of that, the vocals aren’t as prominent at times as their previous album; but still do an amazing job at staying strong and loud. Hall Of Mirrors displays the vocal power perfectly. The two backup vocalists, Tony Bradley and Ryan Sinn, give us a needed rest of Brody’s vocals at key points during most tracks.

The worst part of the album is after the final track, Death Sex. There is approximately 8 minutes of solid guitar lines. It sounds like a broken record and even hurts the ears. That really ends the album on a sore point, especially since the rest of the album as done so well.

Armor For Sleep - Smile for Them

Armor For Sleep

Smile For Them

Sire Records
By

Rating: 2/5

 
 

 

 

Armor For Sleep are one of those bands that recently blew up thanks to sites like MySpace; their first two Equal Vision Records releases were received with critical acclaim and fans ate it up. So the band jumped ship to Sire and decided to release their third album through the major which, inadvertently, cut down a lot of press in the underground. Instead of the massive CD release press that they saw with Dream To Make Believe and What To Do When You Are DeadSmile For Them fell on deaf ears for the most part and received little critical acclaim. Personally, I went into the record with very low expectations mainly since I wasn’t a fan of either of the band’s previous efforts; and after my first listen, those ideas were cemented in my brain.

Just like before, I found Armor For Sleep to be rather generic MTV emo. Smile For Them is extremely polished, full of smoothed out guitar hooks and oddly predictable. Ben Jorgensen’s vocals are your typical radio friendly vocals and the music is far too laid out and is consistently drawn out to unneeded time frames. The band covers all the necessary corners, with heavy, emo-rock cuts like Smile For The Camera, the staple slow down acoustic ballad with Lullaby and even a few electronic beats appear on Chemicals and Stand In The Spotlight (which also features the heavier emo rock vibe). My Saving Grace and End Of The World have drawn out intros that pull up images of a watered down Angels & Airwaves and throughout the whole album there fails to be a single moment that really stuck with me or surprised me.

However, the more I listened to it, I started to pick out a few elements in the songs that weren’t quite as bad as I originally thought. Songs like Run Right Back In and Smile For The Camera suddenly became oddly catchy and I found myself singing along unintentionally – something which I almost immediately regretted. The marching band drum line on Snow Globe caught my eye the third time through and the fourth time I noticed the explicit use of “nah-nah-nah”s in the background of Stars In Your Eyes which help make the song quite catchy. So despite my initial reactions, I went in to write this with a slightly positive slant; because even though it was still predictable and somewhat bland MTV emo, there were a few elements that caught my ears the more I listened.

But then I read my review for Dream To Make Believe and I realized that I went in with the some attitude for that review. Despite a slightly negative overall spin, the review still featured a fair amount of positive sayings. After further thought, I realized that I haven’t actually listened to that CD a single time since 2003 and no matter how many little portions of Smile For Them I find mildly entertaining, it doesn’t take away from the simple fact that I doubt I’ll ever actually listen to Smile For Them again. That, in the end, should say more than any dissection could ever say.

Ramones - End of the Century

The Ramones

End Of The Century: The Story Of The Ramones [DVD]

Sire Records
By

Rating: 4.5/5

 
 

 

 

The Ramones never received main stream success like they had hoped, instead, they sat back and watch all the bands that they inspired hit it big and become known world-wide. It wasn’t until the members start to pass away that people really started to recognize the band for what they had done for the music scene. End Of The Century: The Story Of The Ramones is their story. All the way from the beginning to the end, The Ramones take you on a journey and let you see the inner workings of one of the most influential bands of all time.

The documentary features interviews of all the key players in the ramones: Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, Marky, Tommy, C.J. and Richie along with friends like Joe Strummer, Lars Frederiksen, Blondie, creators of Punk Magazine, their old neighborhood friends, and Joey’s family.

They start off with the band being inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame before going into their story of childhood and how they came to be The Ramones. The documentary shows where they used to hang out, and where they once lived in Forest Hills. The story starts off easily, Johnny Ramone wanted a band and called his friends Tommy and Dee Dee to come and play. They then brought in Joey to play drums, and then one practice the tall, obsessive compulsive, freakish out-cast took the mic and started singing. The band loved it, shuffled their format around and voila: The Ramones where alive.

Watching The Story Of The Ramones, even the biggest Ramones fan will learn something new. You learn about their goal, which was surprisingly to make it big, everyone’s different position in the band, how everyone felt about one another, why different members left the band, how they felt working with Phil Spectre, and basically anything else you could imagine and even some things you couldn’t. You learn their rituals, their fights, their pastimes, and everything. Some critics were saying that the documentary didn’t cover the fight between Johnny and Joey enough. How Johnny stole Joey’s girlfriend, Linda, and ended up marrying her. But really, they talk about it just the right amount. Enough to give you the details, without prying into their personal lives way too much.

While watching the DVD, there’s only a few things I think they were missing. The documentary only goes up to their induction to the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall Of Fame and ends by telling the viewer that Dee Dee died two months later after an overdose. I wish they went a bit further, even just in the bonus features, and talked about Dee Dee’s death, along with Johnny’s. Show New York renaming a road dedicated to The Ramones and even the unveiling of the statue of Johnny Ramone in New York. That would have given the album a bit more of a closure, but a lot of those events were probably a little too recent to be featured in it.

End Of The Century is a must-have for any Ramones fan or music fan in general. It shows how a band, who at times absolutely hates each other and barely talks, can still become one of the world’s bests; even if the members themselves never got to see their true success.

 

Against Me! -White Crosses

Against Me!

White Crosses

Sire Records
By

Rating: 4.5/5

 
 

 

 

Against Me! are the biggest band in punk rock.

I have absolutely no problem making that statement with no ifs, ands or buts. Against Me! are the biggest band in punk rock. Everybody knows them, everybody talks about them, and everybody loves them or loves to hate them. They are the poster child of rebellious teen angst while at the same time constantly being called sell-outs, posers and impostors.  Yet, throughout it all, they remain virtuous. They do what they want and ignore the rest. They write songs they want with the occasional intention simply to fuck with the listener. They have ambition and are unashamed to say what they want; and while some crusty anarcho-punks living in their parents basements may call them names and slash their tires because they no longer agree with the exact same guidelines as they once proclaimed, the people who take the time to understand their intentions see beyond the outward changes and see how Against Me! went from singing Baby I’m An Anarchist to I was A Teenage Anarchist – and it all makes sense.

So yes, Against Me! are the biggest band in punk rock and their fifth studio album, White Crosses, pushes their dominion even further. Gone are the anarchists chants of Re-inventing Axl Rose, gone are the revolutionary calls of As The Eternal Cowboy, gone is the political commentary from Searching for A Former Clarity and gone are the examinations of the music industry from New Wave. Instead, White Crosses is a personal record, an introspective look at one’s self, their motivation and evolution along with a vividly picturesque trip down southern Florida streets.

No other song explains the evolution of Against Me! better than I Was A Teenage Anarchist, a distant follow-up to their famed Baby, I’m An Anarchist track from their debut. It’s a song that plainly states that not everything is as black and white as it may have once seemed. In it, Tom Gabel sings “I was a teenage anarchist, but then the scene got too rigid. / It was a mob mentality; they set their rifle sights on me. / Narrow visions of autonomy, you want me to surrender my identity” and no one could put it better than that.

Other than the pointed title track about smashing crosses symbolising abortion on a church lawn, the remainder of White Crosses is much more widely accessible with far reaching lyrical content and universally relatable lyrics. Because of the Shame is a powerfully sincere look at the death of a love one – possible the title character from New Wave’s smash hit Thrash UnrealSuffocation, packed with a simple and rousing chorus chant of Suffocation! Modern life in the Western World!, takes a critical look at today’s society while We’re Breaking Up details the near derailment of the band last year but can also be interpreted to any failed relationship. Rapid Decompression is a lightning fast bullet – a start contrast to the acoustic ballad Ache with Me – that sees someone on the brink of a breakdown and is nicely sandwiched between two album highlights: Spanish Mosh and Bamboo Bones; both of which sees Gabel looking for strength within himself.  The later of which sees Gabel strain his voice as he yells one of the best Against Me! couplets ever: “What god doesn’t give to you / you’ve got to go and get for yourself.”

But more than just the lyrical changes, White Crosses is yet another evolution in the sound of Against Me! as Gabel and his band of brothers deliver a much fuller sounding record than anything before. Butch Vig has left a stronger mark on this record than he did on New Wave, making White Crosses a boisterous explosion that has modern elements while giving nods back to classic punk bands of the past – likeThe Replacements or The Cure. There’s an echoey quality to Gabel’s voice at times that brings back images of British punk from the early eighties and never before could you imagine saying that the addition of a keyboard to an Against Me! track would work to elevate the song – but it’s impossible to imagine Because of the Shame or We’re Breaking Up without it.

White Crosses is not necessarily what you’d expect from Against Me!; but then again, nothing they do is ever what you’d expect them to do. It is an anthemic album, dynamic and complete, with enough oomph to have an entire stadium sing along with them.  It is a personal record, a sincere record, a self-deprecating record and an Against Me! record made for Against Me! – it just so happens that its good enough that other people will also love it.

Against Me! - New Wave

Against Me!

New Wave

Sire Records
By

Rating: 4.5/5

 
 

 

 

There’s no doubt about it, in the punk scene, New Wave is by far one of the most highly anticipated release of 2007. Fans old and new want to love it and devour it entirely while other fans expect it to fail and are ready to yell out “sell-outs!” the instant the record drops. Every press announcement was met with much talk, video releases and behind the scenes footage soared through the internet and every interview Tom Gabel did was taken and dissected ceremoniously word by word. It all combined to build up a sort of anticipation that most major labels releases only dream of as the consensus is that New Wave will either be absolutely amazing or absolutely horrible – luckily for us, it falls into the former of the two.

The band opens up with a rolling guitar riff and steady drum beat on the title track which instantly questions what everyone’s been saying, blatantly asking “Are you ready to brave new directions?” Because rather than simply re-writing their first few albums over and over again Against Me! have developed a more cohesive sound – following in the same footsteps that Searching For Former Clarity did comparative to Is The Eternal Cowboy. The album is rich and strong, full with sing along choruses and sharp vocals from Gabel. Thrash Unreal is a foot stomping track formed around Warren Oakes drumming and Gabel’s harsh vocals mixed with some “bah-bah-bah-da-bah” in the backgrounds and Stop is one of the catchiest songs the band has ever written and instantly jumps out at listener lyrically and sonically.

The lyrics are polarizing and contradictory, saying something but hinting at another. White People For Peace is a song depicting the futility of protest songs while simultaneously being a protest song, Stopcovers the issue of signing to major label (Stop! Take some time to think, figure out what’s important to you./ You’ve got to make a serious decision.). Thrash Unreal is an honest depiction of a girl from the new wave era falling into drug use and growing up to be alone while Piss And Vinegar sees an irate Gabel condemning the bull shit attitude of the music industry and begging for honesty.

One of the most surprising tracks on the album, and one which will become a Against Me! fan favorite, is Borne Of The FM Waves Of The Heart – a duet with Tegan Quinn of Tegan And Sara. With a soft guitar melody, the song focuses around the vocal combination between Quinn and Gabel. The intensity slowly builds as does the emotion as it cumulates towards the closing moments of the song.

At just ten songs, the album is the perfect length. Searching For Former Clarity fell victim to too much filler, where as this one barely has any – Animal being the only weak track on the whole disc. While quite different than Re-inventing Axl RoseNew Wave is the album Against Me! needed to release. It shows a progression in the band, a very crisp rock sound with pop tendencies still based around the folk punk vocal sound that Against Me! grew up on. It will still be scrutinized and ripped apart from every side, every note and every lyric – but after all of that, people will realize that New Wave is still an amazing album – it’s just not the same album you heard back in 2002.

Video: Jacks Mannequin – Release Me (Live)

Jacks Mannequin recently stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live for a performance.  The band played their song “Release Me” and “Casting Lines” from their recent album People And Things, released earlier this year on Sire Records.

Watch the performance below.

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Lyric Video: Jack's Mannequin – My Racing Thoughts

Jack’s Mannequin has released a brand new song with an accompanying lyric video.  The song is titled “My Racing Thoughts” and is set to appear on the group’s latest release, People And Things, expected to hit later this year on Sire Records.  The album will serve as a follow up to 2008’s The Glass Passenger.

Watch and follow along with the entire lyric video below.

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Lyric Video: Jack’s Mannequin – My Racing Thoughts

Jack’s Mannequin has released a brand new song with an accompanying lyric video.  The song is titled “My Racing Thoughts” and is set to appear on the group’s latest release, People And Things, expected to hit later this year on Sire Records.  The album will serve as a follow up to 2008’s The Glass Passenger.

Watch and follow along with the entire lyric video below.

Read More…

Against Me! Leaves Sire Records, Gets New Drummer

Against MeAs you may remember, this past October, Florida’s Against Me! surprised everyone by cancelling all of their remaining tour dates for 2010. No reason was given other than “unforeseen circumstances;” and nothing was mentioned even when they announced plans to join The Dropkick Murphys on a tour in early 2011.

Now, however, Tom Gabel has updated his blog apologizing for the cancellation saying that they were a lot of circumstances that needed their attention and therefore they were forced to head home and figure everything out. They also mentioned their decision to leave Sire Records saying:

“[A]fter almost a five year relationship we are leaving Sire/Warner. We have nothing but gratitude towards all the people we worked with at the label and feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to make the records we made while with the label.”

The band had signed a two album contract with Sire Records and have fulfilled that contract with the release of New Wave in 2007 and White Crosses this year.  There’s been no word yet as to what label the band will release their next album with.

On top of the label changes, the band also underwent some recent lineup changes as Gabel announced that drummer Jay Weinberg will be playing drums for them in the new year, replacing George Rebello who recorded with them on White Crosses and previously played in Hot Water Music. You may remember Weinberg’s name as he was recently involved in a little scandal with Madball which resulted with him leaving the band in the middle of their Canadian tour with Comeback Kid.

Tom Gabel also promised to try and reschedule all the cancelled dates and also mentioned some upcoming tours with Fences and Cheap Girls. The full blog entry can be read here.

Against Me!

Against Me!

Tom Gabel

Sire Records
By on September 19th, 2010 at Edmonton Events Centre - Edmonton, Alberta

 

 

No matter what show you went to, there always seemed to be one general consensus concerning Against Me!‘s Canadian tour with The Flatliners and Young Livers, and that is that the band – and front man Tom Gabel especially – were as happy as they’ve ever been. I talked to friends who saw them in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg and each and everyone of them agreed: Against Me! had put on a show with unmatched enthusiasm, energy and happiness. Hell, just look at the photos pasted throughout this interview and you’ll see a constant smile plastered across Gabel’s face as he screams into the microphone.

With the release of their new album, White CrossesAgainst Me! have hit their stride and are reveling in it. They don’t really care what you have to say about them; after all, people have been calling them sell outs since they left Plan-It-X and signed to No Idea Records and nothing has changed since. The Floridian four piece are out there every day doing what they love and they truly seem to be loving it. Even during our quick conversation, Gabel was in top form. He was smiling, energetic and joking the entire time – dropping jokes, laughing and just having a good time as we talked about the tour, his un-cuttable hair, anarchist ideologies, punk rock contradictions, the band’s planned re-releases, the myth and mysteries of the rock star pedestal, and – most importantly – the technical inaccuracies of The Book of Eli. Yes, the Denzel Washington movie.

So read on and don’t be afraid to be just like Gabel and crack a smile or two. Read More…

Against Me! Announce New Tour Dates, Team Up With Franz Nicolay

Against Me!Against Me! has welcomed a fifth member to their touring line up- former Hold Steady keyboardist Franz Nicolay. Starting with the next run of European tour dates, Nicolay will join the band onstage every night lending his immense talents and presence. The band has also announced a second leg of tour dates with Silversun Pickup.

The band is set to release their fifth full length White Crosses on June 8th, 2010 through Sire Records.

Check out current and recently announced tour dates below.

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The Maine Announce Major Label Debut

Former Fearless Records artist The Maine have announced the release of their new album Black & White through Sire/Action Theory Records.  The sophomore release is the follow-up to 2008’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop. The Howard Benson-produced album will hit stores on July 13, 2010.  The band

According to the band, Black & White is a stylistic departure: “We’re trying to go for more of a raw feel – really just a free, loose record,” explains front man John O’Callahan.

The track “Growing Up” can be sampled here.

Videos: Tom Gabel Discusses "The Fans"

Against Me!Tom Gabel has released the first in a series of eight interviews about Against Me! The first interview is titled “The Fans” and finds Gabel discussing the relationship between the band had their listeners.  The interviews will be uploaded leading up to the release of Against Me!‘s upcoming album, White Crosses.  The album is set for a June 7, 2010 release date on Sire Records.

Check out part one of eight below.

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Videos: Tom Gabel Discusses “The Fans”

Against Me!Tom Gabel has released the first in a series of eight interviews about Against Me! The first interview is titled “The Fans” and finds Gabel discussing the relationship between the band had their listeners.  The interviews will be uploaded leading up to the release of Against Me!‘s upcoming album, White Crosses.  The album is set for a June 7, 2010 release date on Sire Records.

Check out part one of eight below.

Read More…

Video: Against Me! – I Was a Teenage Anarchist

Hot on the heels of their behind the scenes video, Against Me! has posted the official video for their latest single, I Was a Teenage Anarchist.

This is the first single from their upcoming album, White Crosses, which will be released through Sire Records on June 8th, 2010.

The video can be seen here.

Against Me! – White Crosses Limited Editon Vinyl

Against Me!Interpunk.com are releasing Against Me!’s White Crosses on exclusive 140 gram red vinyl.  The LP’s can be pre-ordered here.

Against Me! are currently on tour with Dead to Me and The Menzingers. Their 5th full length, White Crosses, will be released June 8th on Sire Records.

We recently interviewed bassist Andrew Seward about the album here.

Against Me!

Against Me!

Andrew Seward

Sire Records
By on March 15th, 2010 at Rexall Place - Edmonton, Alberta

 

 

Against Me! are no strangers to hard work. Over the course of their career they’ve tour tirelessly, released countless albums and been the focus of hatred and protest shows – put on by their own fans. Suffice to say, the Floridian band are a very polarizing one – you either love them or hate them. With a new drummer behind their kit, the band just finished recording their fifth studio full length – White Crosses– are are in the midst of touring on it. This tour brought them up to Canada as opening act for Billy Talent and Alexisonfire‘s cross-country arena tour and I was able to catch up with bassist Andrew Seward again before they took the stage at Rexall Place in Edmonton and completely stole the show from the headliners.

Speaking to me just two days after the album leaked, and months before White Crosses is even scheduled to be released, we discussed the lineup change, the leak, the tour and learned about the progression of certain songs from the album. Read on to see what Andrew has to say about White Crosses, b-sides, fucking with people and more. Read More…

Against Me!

Against Me!

Andrew Seward

Sire Records
By on Sept. 12th, 2008 at Edmonton Events Centre - Edmonton, Alberta

 

 

Before Against Me! took the stage in the middle of the world’s largest mall, bassist Andrew Seward took a few minutes to sit backstage and talk to site about what the band has been up to lately. After all, they’ve been pretty busy after releasing their major label debut New Wave last year. Countless tours across numerous continents, opening for the Foo Fighters, releasing a collection of b-sides and more. Not only did we touch on those subjects, but Andrew also let us know his some of his more memorable moments in Japan, the impact of the internet in today’s world and hearing Ben Lee cover New Wave. Thanks a lot to Andrew for taking the time to talk to us and for telling us some pretty interesting stories. Read More…

Against Me!

Against Me!

Tom Gabel

Fat Wreck Chords / Sire Records
By on March 31, 2007 at Dinwoodie Lounge - Edmonton, Alberta

 

 

I had been really looking forward to this show and when it finally came I was pumped. Fresh out of the studio Against Me! have been tearing up the road in anticipation of their new album, New Wave, hitting stores July 10th. During their stop at the Dinwoodie Lounge in Edmonton, I had the chance to talk with Tom about the record, the current tour, signing to Sire and the punk philosophy. It was a nice, laid back interview and Tom impressed me with his very articulate answers. Thanks to Tom for doing it and to Melanie for setting it up.

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