I was fairly amazed that when I flipped through an issue of Spin, which I never do, to find that their top album of 2007 is "New Wave" by Against Me! I'm a fan of the band. How can a band I like be #1 in Spin? And how can Spin like Against Me! more than shit like Kanye West? The band must be getting a lot more mainstream attention than I realized.
I sat on the Bumbershoot advisory board for two years, something that's amazing in itself for happening. I was recommended by Dave Meinert, who up until that point had only argued with me about local clubs, music and politics. But I guess Dave likes people that aren't afraid to speak their minds. Anyway, when I was on the Bumberboard, my main goal, along with getting local punk bands I loved into the festival (The Spits, Briefs and Cripples, it was pretty awesome!) and to campaign for a few big bands I wanted to see (The Stooges and The Pixies!), was to get a few up-and-coming national punk bands on the bill. I fought hard for Against Me! They already had two albums out and could sell out the Vera Project, plus they kicked fucking ass. I succeeded in convincing the One Reel staff they were worthy and Against Me! played to a small but enthusiastic crowd of about 1500 people. They were really one of the highlights of that year's Bumbershoot festival and this was years before The Stranger would even acknowledge the band, much less book them at The Capitol Hill Block Party (they played the Block Party last Summer).
Anyway, in recent years they've definitely become more pop... and with that came popularity. They still write great sing-a-long anthems, they still have biting often satirical political and social commentary wrapped in lyrics that don't exactly rhyme (reminiscent of The Dead Kennedys actually), but they just now are radio-friendly, on a major, and feature guest vocalists like Tegan (from Tegan and Sara). I'm personally OK with a more mainstream-acceptable sound and the same type of lyrics, it's like they are sneaking a subversive message into commercial audiences, something '70s punk bands like The Clash and Sex Pistols were good at. And I still think they sound great, but I've always liked punk bands with pop sensibilities, from Stiff Little Fingers and The Buzzcocks, to Screeching Weasel and Sicko. Or maybe I'm just getting old by not joining the teen punk masses pointing the sell-out finger at Against Me! I actually think it's kind of cool that they may succeed at pushing their message and vision towards a much larger audience.
Here's a cut from "New Wave" entitled "White People for Peace":
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