Punk, as a viable, vibrant creature in its most genuine and truest
form, is as common today as seeing a Brontosaurus walking down Broadway.
There are many bands working the circuit that claim to be punk, but
in the end few are as true to their first love as Naples, Florida
politi-punks Against Me!. Their latest extravaganza is the
raw and abrasive The Original Cowboy. Though not technically
new, it [consists of] the demos recorded in 2003 for the band's second
record. As The Original Cowboy, it rings with a kind of timelessness;
the sound of a band that plans to give 1000% of themselves to everything
even if it means flaming out in the end.
Cowboy is a dark record that is not for the casual punk fan
that believes Fall Out Boy is heavy stuff. Tom Gabel's
voice can be soft ( see "Cavalier Eternal", an acoustic
break up song that is a precursor to New Wave's "Borne on the
F.M. Waves of Your Heart") but mostly, it sounds like 40 grit
sandpaper gargling razor blades which fits perfectly with the band's
hybrid of punk and metal that forms a racket like no other.
Against Me! Wear their influences proudly on their pitch black sleeves.
They have mined the best of what punk has to offer (Bad Religion,
NOFX and DIY greats Fugazi stand at the front of the
line) and combine it with thought provoking, acid-tongued lyrics and
enormous power to create a monster that is both original and familiar.
I'm not saying that this is a perfect record or that Against Me!
is the perfect punk band (that honor is held by Bad Religion and always
will be) but The Original Cowboy shows to what heights this
band is capable of climbing. Musically, the band is running with the
big dogs. The Motorhead meets Gang Of Four guitar work
by James Bowman, coupled with the unforgiving drumming of Warren
Oakes make for an explosion that could blast a 40-ton bomb into
space. More simply put, the vocals, drums, bass, guitar and political
charged lyrics collide to be an unstoppable punk storm.
Against Me! Is a punk band for teens that feel outcast, who long
for something else, who need to be part of something more than the
jocks that cram them in lockers at school or the girls/boys that always
turn them down. The Original Cowboy is about finding a better
way, finding a place to belong and having music so fast and aggressive
that it literally scares your parents. If that is the goal of every
punk band, then Against Me! Have scored big time.
-Danny R. Phillips
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