Friday, July 11, 2008

From Eugene to Gainesville

It was the video killed it for me. Not in the Buggles, image trumps talent way, but because it had been floundering for some time and was going to come to an end sooner than later. By now music has broadened itself across so many mediums I wonder just how much control the individual has over the whole musical experience/consumption? Is it possible to avoid taking part in the packaged show? Would it have made a difference? I doubt it.

I was in my dorm room sometime in the winter of 03’. After a casual exchange about music with a friend from the dorms he mentioned that he had got word of this great band, “if you got the time for a listen,” kind of conversation. I would listen and keep listening but it wasn’t till the summer when the hooks had really sunk into me. For the scope of my college years I would hold onto them like my nights of Blue Ribbon. Headphones on the way to class, screamed through the early morning, sweat in the carpet floor.

a poetry spoken silently between me and the stereo

New Wave is Against Me!’s newest release and has put me to scale for the past months. I guess that everyone has a band or two that they hold onto through the years and in the process becomes something tangible to identify with, such is our post-modern world. Wave is a sign that the band is looking for a new/bigger audience. In the “Thrash Unreal” video the band plays while fake wine is poured on them, and Tom Gabel(songwriter/frontman) is shirtless like some boy-band/TRL gimmick. On the bands previous album, Searching for a Former Clarity (2005), the songs differed from their early work as well, but wasn’t reaching just for the sake of it. The production had cleaned up, there were songs you could dance to, new instruments; signs of a band maturing and taking chances. On New Wave, all of these qualities are pushed to the front, “Stop” is a straight up dance song, “Borne on the FM Waves” is a love ballad first, and “Animal” abandons Punk for Alternative accessibility. The album isn’t a complete loss, "Americans Abroad" and the title track come to mind, but I can’t deny the feeling that the glass is half empty. I have always found Punk's idealism a bit romantic, and such great intentions are probably doomed from the start.

So what now? Maybe I should write them off, another tragic casualty to the money and mob? Maybe I can forget all the times that I sung off key, forgot the lyrics, and still - remember nothing less? I doubt it.

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