Against Me!
As the Eternal Cowboy


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
September 5th, 2005 | 37 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist


Against Me!
As the Eternal Cowboy

The recent popularity of bands that mix the melodies and instruments of Celtic folk music with punk was perplexing to me. It is incredibly catchy so I understand the mass appeal but I guess I was just surprised at such a smooth merge. Genre combinations are usually invitations to imitators and critical acclaim but I didn't expect the synthesis to last. The combination married the two most bacchanalian musical cultures I can think of (Irish pub songs and drunx punx three-chord anthems) to produce a result that perfectly complements a pint. Both were raucous, rowdy, and crude, which produced the most pleasant hangover of singing, screaming, and fiddle I've ever encountered. However, the two fast-paced lifestyles aren't fully reflected by drinking song you'd hear in a social setting; that would ignore the destructive and melancholy elements of the two groups. These are cultures that don't just drink and cheer and have a grand ol' time together. These are also two cultures deeply scarred by their own deleterious nature. Sure, Flogging Molly has a few sad songs but those are mostly a diversification tool, and most of those bands seem their most dishonest and out of place when attempting a somber seriousness. Enter Against Me! stage center. They, instead of combining Celtic folk with punk, mix American folk with punk. When I say American folk I mean the kind associated with cowboys, outlaws, and the Wild West. It's the kind of country that doesn't inspire the corniness of the Grand Ol' Opry and Wynonna Judd or anything, but also isn't overtly skewed to the ruggedness of a lone wolf cowboy. This folk steps above those stereotyped images by being more diverse; Against Me! balances the savvy political sneer of punk with the wistful backdrop of western folk music. There is humor in the sad realizations of the political and personal side of the music that few bands really can achieve. The end result: This Shit Rules.

As the Eternal Cowboy is Against Me!'s second LP, and least "punk" album to date. Surprisingly, it's also their least "folk" to date too. This CD is the first in their discography to include a more rock feel to the music. The drumming is slower, the background vocals less prominent, the singing less gruff and less like screaming. Some songs are riff-based instead of chord progression-based, which utterly betrays punk and folk alike for rock and roll. This change, an obvious turnoff for original fans, isn't terrible. It precludes the ability for the album to surpass Reinventing Axl Rose because it sounds diluted, but Against Me! has provided a set of great songs despite a stylistic uphill battle. In tune with their previous albums, all of the songs are very well written. They all mix rugged catchiness, emotionally sloppy musicianship, and alcohol just with less fervor than previous albums. Interestingly, the album starts off with the same kick and strength of previous albums with the more intense songs "T.R.S. (This Shit Rules)" and "Cliche Guevera," but spills off into a slower and more pensive second half. Present are acoustic remakes of songs found on the Sink, Florida, Sink EP that tone down the punk qualities and really put the spotlight on the singing, which has cleaned up since previous albums.

Though I've whined a bit about the change, the positives far outweigh the negatives. What really matters with a band like Against Me! is feeling, and the feeling is still there. On the first song alone, after the simple ska strummed chords of the introduction and the solitary vocals, the song picks up into one of the catchiest and most moving I can think of. The album is replete with fun/special/moving/grooving/beautiful moments that never stop providing whatever special emotional reaction one derives from it. Between the wonderfully off-kilter playing and still endearingly rough vocals, these candidly simple songs will win your heart in the way that any punk or folk band should: by personality not looks.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
AIRIC
September 5th 2005


27 Comments


2nd LP, but no matter, this album is amazing. It got me into Against Me!, and made them my favorite band.

Brain Toad
September 5th 2005


27 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good album and good review. This band helped spark a lot of new bands that carry on these folk-punk ideals well and are the future for punk music.

Fabz
September 5th 2005


136 Comments


I really like this album, not as good as Reinventing Axl Rose but still a strong album.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
September 5th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ya. I think I like TRS the best, and it's usually not good to pass the favorite on the first track.

Berserker!
September 5th 2005


73 Comments


Cliche Guevara's the best song on the album. Overall, this was just soft boiled rock with occasional punk outbursts.

What a shame and letdown, still an enjoyable album though.

Joeeddstealschickens
March 16th 2006


110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

To me this kinda feels like Reinventing Axl Rose pt2 - to use the analogy the writer used, its predessecor is fast and drunk and emotional in a fun way; ...Cowboy is like waking up the next morning and looking back at the previous night and thinking oer everything that went on. I think the start of TSR says it right: ''the partys over..''. Yeah very good album, heavier lean on quieter emotional music than the abrasive folkiness of .....Axl Rose

Anglachel
April 5th 2006


152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"and least "punk" album to date. Surprisingly, it's also their least "folk" to date too"

Well, I guess thats why I didnt like it as much as their other stuff. While this is still a good album, I can certainly say I like their other stuff better.

Good review.

Two-Headed Boy
July 25th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is really fantastic. Sink, Florida, Sink is purely fantastic.

camdizzle
October 10th 2007


58 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I didn't really appreciate this album until recently. It definitely has a differenty feel from Reinventing Axl Rose, but I like. TSR and Cliche Guevara are definitely my favorite tracks, but Sink Florida, Sink is a good break from the energy of the first part of the album. Good description of the bad as well. I always said if Bob Dylan and Jello Biafra had an angry love child, it would sound kinda like Against Me!.This Message Edited On 10.10.07

OneDeadCop112
December 16th 2008


57 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album wins over RAR for me.

Awesomesauce
March 3rd 2009


1084 Comments


The more pollished sound of this album compared to RAR skews it a bit too close to mainstream rock for my liking. Still great though and a close second in my opinion.

Anguish
September 28th 2009


10 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My favorite Against Me! album. You can listen to it from beginning to ending, it all flows together beautifully like perhaps nothing else they've recorded since does. A good blend between pop and anarchist sensibilities, which is probably a contradiction to most.

hoipolloi
May 3rd 2010


152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

love tracks 2, 4, and 8. this is just a good album but my favorite against me! album has to be axl rose.

BigHands
October 14th 2010


338 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

ALL THE RIGHT REASONS TO FUCK IT UP,


YA GOTTA FUCK IT UP

WHOAAAAAAAAAAAAA WHOA WHOA WHOA OH OH

WHOA OH OH WHOA OH

WHOA OH OH WHOA OH

mallen-
January 19th 2011


1235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

so good

Satellite
January 19th 2011


20816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

they make bad, bad jokes; it's okay not to laugh
and for every push forward, you get the same fuckin' push back


Bron-Yr-Aur
April 28th 2011


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

working my way through their discography now, and i like this a lot, though not as much as the acoustic ep, crime or rar.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
April 28th 2011


50412 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Real cowboy music.

Digging: Viper the Rapper - You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack

Bron-Yr-Aur
May 10th 2011


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is so good

probably like this more than rar now tbh

maybe that makes me a wuss idk

Spec
June 8th 2011


27173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like how their album ratings get progressively lower and lower.



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