Sep 25, 2007

If a formerly independent-label band drops a record and it’s paid for by a major, does the band still make the same sound? Does superstar production and the loosened grip of financial fear change things? I’ve had to ask myself this question over and over since Bad Religion signed to Atlantic along with the plethora of other punk bands that went with the majors in the 1990s. At the time it broke my heart, but some bands have a credibility that can still exist if the listener holds the highest optimism for a band’s decisions, and Bad Religion eventually won me back. The same principle applies here along with another I’ve picked up on, which is that I can never know if I’m going to end up liking an album on the first try. Largely unimpressed by the opening title track here (our first taste of the “new” Against Me!), the next track “Up the Cuts” draws me right back in. I can do without the buhbupbuhs of the otherwise lyrically gritty “Thrash Unreal,” but “Piss and Vinegar” is still damned good and convincing. Against Me! have been pissing people off with the progression of their sound as far back as Eternal Cowboy on Fat Wreck Chords, and I freakin’ love that album. They have always created songs with a diverse range of sound. I know they can’t all be “You Look Like I Need A Drink” or even “Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious…”, but any band that can write songs like those gets my continued patience as we all wait to see what happens next.

 –susan (Sire)