Anarchists are funny creatures. I remember my first encounter, or known encounter, with their kind. It was about 16 months ago, and as usual on a September afternoon, me and my neighborhood chums were out playing some football. Another kid, who we happen to call Milhouse (because he just popped up in my house the first day he moved to the neighborhood) was playing, and I noticed a beanie with a large, italic “A” on the front. I asked him, what exactly that meant, and he responded “It means I’m an anarchist! I do what I want!” Suddendly, a car came around the bend, and Milhouse started freaking out, saying “Oh shi
t if my mom sees me wearing this hat, I’m dead!”
Of course, me and my other friends found this contrast of statements quite humorous, and so, we proceeded to make fun of him for, well, we’re still making fun of him, though in less frequent doses. But one gag I remember distinctly is deciding to make a mix CD for him. In the search for songs, I came across Baby, I’m an Anarchist!
by Against Me! Of course, I had
to download this song for our friend, and after a listen to it for myself, I downloaded a couple of their other singles as well.
Over the next 12 months, I frequently listened to the songs and quite enjoyed them, but never committed to obtaining a full album, in fear that these anarchists would be as full of shi
t as our friend, Milhouse. But, finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer, and I finally downloaded the bands debut LP Reinventing Axl Rose
Now, only previously hearing “Baby, I’m an Anarchist!”, “Sink, Florida, Sink”, and “Don’t Lose Touch”
I wasn’t quite ready for what was awaiting me on this album. Those songs consisted mainly of soft vocals, when I heard Tom Gabel screaming his heart out, it had me quite surprised. Another surprise was the content of the opener Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
. With a name like that, a person can’t be blamed for thinking the song was going to be a mindless song about getting drunk, but instead, it happens to be an ode to lost love. While Gabel’s voice may not be appealing to most, there’s no contesting that it’s full of emotion when he sings lines such as “Well I swear to god that I'll love you forever/Evelyn, I'm not coming home tonight”
. With the songs “marching-band” like drums and Irish riff, and emotional lyrics, it instantly become a favorite of mine, and is still my favorite song off the album to this day, but that’s not to say the rest disappoints.
I happen to be a big fan of the drums, and not just because drummer Warren Oakes has one of the greatest beards ever worn by a musician, but instead because of the pre-chorus to I Still Love You Julie
where Gabel in the band belt out the fantastic line “Maybe somehow/this scam/will still save us all!”
and starts beating the hell out of the drums. It may be a simple task for any drummer, but here it’s used perfectly, and very catchy. Personally, I find the bass a bit disappointing. Just as Andrew Seward’s beard fades in comparison to Oakes’s beard, I often can’t tell if it’s the bass I’m hearing or the drums, though I suppose that’s the production teams fault, and not Seward’s. However, there are some very notable basslines on I Still Love You Julie
, Waking is Still Honest
, The Politics of Starving
. Just like the bass, the guitar isn’t too spectacular. It mainly consists of simple chords, but every once in a while there are some pretty nifty riffs, such as the 50s-esque riff found in the intro to Baby, I’m an Anarchist!
But where Gabel may lack in his guitar playing, he makes up for in writing the lyrics. Against Me! are quite the political group, and the best example of this is the oft-mentioned, Baby, I’m an Anarchist
. It’s a breakup song of sorts, detailing how Gabel has had enough of his democracy loving girl. With lines such as “Through the best of times/Through the worst of times/Through Nixon and through Bush”
, it’s a fun listen for the anarchist in all of us, and a little of that anarchist will feel the heartbreak when Gabel wails “But when it came time to throw bricks/Through that Starbucks window/You left me all alone”
. Another song detailing the life of an anarchist is the tune Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious
which greatly describes the beliefs and morals of anarchist much better than some teenage tool proclaiming “I’m an anarchist! I do what I want”.
Anarchists are funny creatures. Some are just there, so they can say “I don’t care what you think, I do what I want” and have no idea what being an anarchist truly is. But then there’s our friends Against Me! who truly understand the concept and will die full of pride for their loyalty to it.