Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Anti-Flag - The People Or The Gun

Alright, so they have a tendency to spread the message of community via occasional dumbed-down maxims (see “War Sucks, Let's Party!” off 2006 effort For Blood and Empire). And yes, this liberal punk band, one self-proclaimed pro-community, pro-equal rights, is a bit hypocritical for promoting the sale of its new record at Target, the CEO of which is a known Republican who donated to the Bush campaign in 2004. Much as I appreciate the messages they get across – agreed, if we allocated our trillions to health care and education rather than war, we would be in a better place – and much as I appreciate that they're donating some of the proceeds from recent album pre-sales to Amnesty International, I'd be more impressed if they found a means that better meshed with the words they preach.

To be expected, you don’t visit a band like Anti-Flag for its musical creativity – there is none to be found. Justin Sane’s bitch-bitch-whine-whine vocals are somewhat hardened by Chris Barker's barks and growls, and the band’s rock style, L.A.-meets-Boston (by way of Pittsburgh, natch) is formulaic by now. What Anti-Flag does offer are lyrics relevant to now, even addressing this year’s bailouts (“I’ve seen a lot of bailouts in my life/but why is it I never see a bailout for the homeless and the poor? We’re so fucked!”), and the importance of taking responsibility when the government won’t (“we are the one/united under none,” from the anthemic “We Are the One”).

By far, the hardest hitting track here is opener “Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington D.C.,” rounding out a list of cities run by sin, destroyed by God, breathlessly likening the powers that be to “sheep in shepherd’s clothing.” Though Anti-Flag is a bit poppy in the vein of modern punk, it’s the fire in this song that’s so desperately lacking from much of the genre of late, not to mention the band’s own catalog; that in mind, The People or the Gun loses strength after its initial three minutes, if only by contrast.

Anti-Flag - We Are the One
Anti-Flag - Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington D.C.
Pre-order The People or the Gun

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