After contemplating of hoping on to Bart and heading to San Francisco to catch the Economy Sucks Tour, I decided that very morning that I’ll make a spontaneous trip on my own to catch Anti-Flag and Broadway Calls. Once out on the Bart I turned on my ipod to listen to Anti-Flag, only to be disappointed and sadly finding out that I didn’t have any of their songs on my mp3 player. However, I did have the Bouncing Souls album which they covered 3 songs of Anti-Flag songs. Finally arriving in beautiful, rainy San Francisco, I hoped on the bus headed towards Slim’s arriving about 2 hours before the show started. Standing with my red umbrella and trying to keep warm I witness a tour bus parking right in front of me. Turns out, Anti-Flag we’re running a few hours late and had just arrived in San Francisco. Right at 5:30 pm my friend from Berkeley arrived and we called Neltie, Anti-Flag’s tour manager, to let us in. Once settling onto a bench inside Slim’s, Anti-Flag and their crew started to set up their equipment and performed sound check. That was my first time seeing Anti-Flag live, and in a room of only a handful of people, it was great. They sound check to 3 songs and were off stage. As 7pm hit the clock, the rest of the folks outside Slim’s were let in and greeted with the opening act band Oregon called Broadway Calls. Broadway Calls have an amazing energy live and are a bit more on the poppy-punk sound. There were a few folks in the crowd who sang and fist pumped along,while the rest stood waiting for Aiden or Anti-Flag. While watching Broadway Calls perform, a overheard a young girl tell her friend “They are so generic sounding.” Although they may be, they got the crowd clapping and me tapping along to their songs. Later through out the show, I figured out the young girl was there for this band from Canada called Cancer Bats. Let me just say that Cancer Bats or Aiden aren’t my cup of tea and noticed that all the folks, mostly older, that were there for Anti-Flag stood in the back of the venue or near the bar. There at Slim’s I wondered if I was too old for the kind of music Cancer Bats and Aiden played, I’m only twenty. It was almost 1opm and Aiden were just a few songs into their set when I decided to leave and head back to San Jose. Although I missed Anti-Flag, I was still able to hear them perform 3 songs during their sound check without a huge crowd.
Anti-Flag‘s new video for “When All The Lights Go Out” can be seen below.
Anti-Flag are set to release their new album, The People or the Gun, on June 9th. This will be the bands first release on SideOneDummy. Check out the track listing for the album below.
1. Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington D.C. (Sheep in Shepherds Clothing)
2. The Economy is Suffering”¦Let It Die
3. The Gre(A)t Depression
4. We Are The One
5. You Are Fired (Take This Job)
6. This Is The First Night
7. No War Without Warriors (How Do You Sleep?)
8. When All The Lights Go Out
9. On Independence Day
10. The Old Guard
11. Teenage Kennedy Lobotomy
In true Anti-Flag-ian form, this piece will appear as a an album review and a commentary. Upon listening to The Bright Lights of America, as well as researching the band’s history and reading reviews of this album, many quandaries come forth into the mind of the honest listener. What criteria is set forth by the so-called music critic and should they be instead labeled as a cynic? It seems that those limber bones and elitist minds, which reside in front of the laptop’s screen inside a major music publication, technically debase each album that crosses their cluttered desks. Have they forgotten the emotive quality that even a simple piece of music can affect the listener? Even within the straight-forward motion of the punk genre, “critics” tend to pick apart arrangement, performance, and vocal flaws in order to devalue the artist’s work. Understandably, it is job to find the defects in the album. Often, the “critic” forgets their passion and connection which draws them to a life driven by a soundtrack. Were Black Flag, The Ramones, and The Sex Pistols creating technically sound albums? No, they were records driven by anger, resentment, passion, and heart. Some of these things, the honest listener may find in Anti-Flag.
The Bright Lights of America, Anti-Flag’s second major-label release, brings forth a new direction. Anti-Flag has made a career of creating leftist political manifestos by way of furious, striking punk rock. Yet, their newest album takes two improbable turns. First, Anti-Flag softens such manifestos for more personal “politics.” The songs tell stories and lyrics depicting social struggles, deterring from anthems against war and Bush-era policy. Subsequently, the album’s title track details society’s weight on the burgeoning youth and how “cutting” becomes a mean to cope. With the fierceness of “The Modern Rome Burning,” Anti-Flag pounds away with a message of how humanity is bred into a nation of imprisonment. Their gang-vocals chant away people’s struggle into dissent and the track is preceded by a commentary from Mumia Abdul-Jamal, a death-row inmate. Although the messages throughout the album are strong, gang-vocals and repetitive choruses run rampant. Despite the chant’s strengths, they sometimes feel counter-productive.
Anti-Flag’s second turn into a new direction appears as the expansive musical arrangements. Not to fret, The Bright Lights of America is chalk-full of mosh-inspiring, speed-induced anthems. Although, the album is vigorously flared by delicate intricacies. The opening track, “Good and Ready,” harkens an old-school punk vibe but concludes with a children’s choir providing a haunted call and response interlude. “Go West” is a rebellious ballad of adventure, highlighted by a harmonica intro. As well, cellos, brass, and other orchestral instruments shape the album’s integral tracks.
Anti-Flag’s The Bright Lights of America is a strong approach into a new direction. It strikes a similar punk rock chord alongside the likes of A.F.I. and Strike Anywhere. Ultimately, the listener’s journey through the record will define its final resting place.
Standout Tracks: “The Bright Lights of America”, “The Modern Rome Burning”, “We Are the Lost”
1. Good and Ready
2. The Bright Lights of America
4. The Modern Rome Burning
5. If You Wanna Steal (You Better Learn How to Lie)
6. No Warning
7. Spit in the Face
8. We Are the Lost
9. Go West
10. The Smartest Bomb
11. Shadow of the Dead
12. The Ink and the Quill (Be Afraid)
Here are some albums in stores tomorrow. Let us know which ones you’ll be picking up.
Search The City – A Fire So Big The Heavens Can See It
Anti-Flag – The Bright Lights Of America
Hawk Nelson – …Is My Friend
Fall Out Boy – **** Live In Phoenix CD/DVD
Crash Romeo – Gave Me The Clap
No Use For A Name – The Feel Good Record Of The Year
Blacklisted – Heavier Than Heaven Lonlier Than God
Four Year Strong – Rise Or Die Trying 12″
Sing It Loud – EP (iTunes Only)
We Shot The Moon – Fear & Love (iTunes Only)