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Against Me! – New Wave

With their latest offering, New Wave, Against Me! proves its status as a modern, American, Stiff Little Fingers.

From liberal doses of personal declaration and raging (lost) love songs—to overt protest anthems, from riveting guitar work to provocative punk-ness, whilst cranking out their work through a corporate major label—the similarities are remarkable.


Against Me! is a working class band, through and through, and they believe the workers should control the factory.

This couldn’t be any clearer than on the very first track—the title track—on this, their first offering on the Sire imprint. Singer Tom Gabel declares and defends the band’s intentions from the get go:

We can be the bands we want to hear.
We can define our own generation.
Is there anybody on the receiving end?
Are you ready to brave new directions?

Come on and wash these shores away.
Come on and wash these shores away.
I am looking for the crest,
I am looking for the crest of a new wave.

This is no new pronouncement. Against Me! doesn’t create its art through the inspiration of a muse. Rather, its muse is its collective musical career. Their songs incessantly refer to their experiences as musicians and to the redundant conjecture of the biz in full legalese. Moving right along to “Up The Cuts,” the boys take head-on the nay-sayers who will inevitably accuse them of selling out:

All the insiders rumor over the decline in sales.
All the buzz is happening in the new digital market place.
FBI warning printed on the flipside.
Under penalty of law piracy will be prosecuted.
In MRR someone asks the question,
“With the instant availability of information
and content so easily obtainable
is the culture now a product that’s disposable?”
All the punks still singing the same song.
Is there anyone thinking what I am?
Is there any other alternative?

Forward a few tracks and we have “Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart,” a nearly tear-jerking reality of rock love gone as fucked up as it usually does. A more bitter than sweet detail of a(nother) break-up. This is the kind of stuff that every kid into rock and roll can grasp; and this kind of material is yet another reason that Against Me! has garnered such a huge following of empathetic fans.

The boys aren’t afraid of self deprecation either. On “Americans Abroad,” Gabel acknowledges his societal influences as a world traveler:

Here we are, a rock band looking for new audiences.
Wherever we go, Coca-Cola’s already been.
Americans abroad!
Americans abroad!
And I just can’t help but think that there’s nothing in sight.
And while I hope I’m not like them, I’m not so sure.

When it comes down to it this is another AM! album, and AM! fans will love it. The fact of the matter is that these boys have developed a very broad fan base, one that requires wide distribution. The only way to handle the popularity of these artists is to handle it through a large and experienced label. This is exactly what happened to Green Day in 1992. Lookout! Records could never have distributed the hundreds of thousands of copies of Dookie that the public demanded immediately upon its release. Not to mention the 10 million albums the band has sold over all. It’s that simple.

If you don’t appreciate that, right on. But for every dissenter, there are a thousand happy fans out there that get it; and no one’s gonna stop ‘em.


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