Reviews Against Me! New Wave

Against Me!

New Wave

There have been a few instances that I’ve gotten pretty pissed off at bands. When Modern Life Is War told the audience that it was a privilege for our small college town to be able to see Converge, I was pretty pissed off, as in all actuality, it is always a privilege for a band to show up to a town and have an audience, not the other way around. When Circle Takes the Square screwed over a friend of mine, I was pretty pissed off. When Rusty from Toru Okada stole money from hundreds of kids and had the audacity to complain at a live show that he had to sell his bike to make money, I was pretty pissed off. But there has only been one band that has pissed me off to the point of devastation, to take everything I believed in and crush it. With the release of Searching for a Former Clarity and their eventual signing to Sire Records, Against Me! did just that. New Wave is just the final nail in the coffin for me.

While in high school, Against Me! was the band that made me actually believe in something. They made me want to take action, to start a band, to protest, to have some fucking fun. I was fifteen years old, I knew nothing about the real world, and listening to songs like "Reinventing Axl Rose" made me believe in something far beyond the music, made me believe in a music scene where labels and money meant nothing. Against Me! did this for a lot of people, they were beyond a doubt the voice for the folk punk movement, for the kids like me that held onto and cherished the music as our own.

Fast-forward a few years. After releasing a DVD in which the band mocks major labels courting them, the band has signed to Sire Records, a label which hosts such amazing acts as HIM. After playing songs that stated, “Our arenas, just basements” the band have played Giants Stadium and various large clubs. This could be a band that is simply progressing as a result of their talents; I reject that belief. This is a band that people believed in for their morals and ethics, and a band that has turned their backs on their own beliefs after major labels and package tours came courting. This is a band that now gets descriptions such as, “raising Anarchist-protest music up from the underground.” Against Me! is the Che Guevara and Mao Zedong shirts sold at Hot Topic. Against Me! is the Karl Marx shirts sold at Urban Outfitters for $35. Against Me! is pure capitalism through anarchy, and New Wave is the final act of a band that has turned their backs on the people and ideas that made them who they are.

Surprisingly enough, the first song off of New Wave, going by the same name, isn’t that bad. Opening up like vintage Alkaline Trio songs, the song plays the same few chords until the chorus sets in, with vocalist Tom Gabel hopefully urging to, “Wash these shores away.” From there, the album progressively gets worse. On the next song, “Up the Cuts,” Tom’s passion and urgency are gone, the drums of Warren Oakes are minimal, and all the song manages to do is ask a few trivial and unimportant questions about major label releases before the grand conclusion: Gabel asking, “Are you restless like me?” The words buildup, climax, catchy, and fun are out of Against Me’s vocabulary, and it is painfully obvious after only the second song.

The next song, the new single from the band, is “Thrash Unreal.” How this is a single is beyond me, as the song takes a depressing subject of a female junkie, and manages to leave the listener without any sense of emotion at all. And in pure high school here-comes-an-ironic-ending fashion, the songs final lyrics simply say, “If she had to live it all over again you know she wouldn’t change anything for the world.” Life is finally breathed back into the band with “White People for Peace,” a song which the band has stated is about how protesting war, namely through “protest songs in response to military aggression” are both admirable and futile. The songs chorus features some liveliness from Gabel and the rest of the band, with hints of As the Eternal Cowboy present with numerous tempo changes. Sadly, while a gleam of hope may have been present, the next song, the eloquently named, “Stop,” is a song that has no problem hiding the fact that it is a filler song, with a basic chorus that repeats itself numerous times after a few uninteresting lyrics, and a song structure that changes minimally throughout.

"Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart" is next, and is the best song on the album. Featuring Tegan Quin from the female duo Tegan and Sara, the song is the only one on the album that put any emotion into my mind. Quin’s absolutely beautiful voice carries the song, with Gabel and the guitar and drum beats surprisingly able to keep up and hold their own. The song breaks out with Gabel taking over the song and the drums picking up intensity, and then transitions back nicely to the duo singing again. If Against Me! actually did become a band that sings love songs, I probably wouldn’t mind much if this were the result. This is however, the last bright spot in an album full of disappointments. "Americans Abroad" tackles issues that any anthropologist could have told you over a decade ago, and “Animal” features the most simplistic and unchanging song structures of the whole album. Finally, New Wave’s ten song un-extravaganza ends without notice with “Ocean.”

I extend my congratulations to Against Me!; the band has made an album that will let them play to new fans in bigger venues, make them a household name with kids that enjoy listening to Green Day and The Offspring, and ultimately will get them radio play in-between bands such as Puddle of Mudd and Staind. Against Me! is stadium rock instead of folk punk, boring instead of fun, robotic instead of passionate, and I, for one, am disgusted.

4.2 / 10Cory
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Sire

2007

4.2 / 10

4.2 / 10

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