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Reinventing Axl Rose

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Album Review

Against Me!'s Reinventing Axl Rose is an impressive debut that manages to combine fist-in-the-air singalong choruses, lagered-up rhythms, and urgent drumbeats with the underground, raw intensity these punks are known for live. It's a dynamic record that not only stands firm in its own right, but also hints at a propensity for songwriting in Tom Gabel — the group's hoarse, politically conscious singer/songwriter — just starting to be fully realized. From the rowdy, country-influenced drinking anthem "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong," to the somber closing notes of "8 Full Hours of Sleep," Against Me! performs every track with the passion of those who truly believe a song among friends can start a movement for change. The band's leftist political agenda is often offset by empowering social lyrics boasting sentiments of unity, individualism, and self-awareness. Tracks like the lively and rebellious "Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious..." declare that "We rock/Because it's us against them/We've found our own reasons to sing," while the album's title track urgently professes, "Everyone would leave with the memory that there was no place else in the world and this was where they always belonged." Often deviating from the standard punk musical blueprint, Against Me!'s blend of energetic folk/punk rock is nothing short of refreshing and engaging. Reinventing Axl Rose is a true classic that brings listeners right into the dirty basements and dive bars that birthed the band — and serves as the foundation to where they would head next.


Formed: 1997 in Gainesville, FL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Before becoming a full-fledged punk band, Against Me! was an acoustic solo project spearheaded by Laura Jane Grace, who began playing shows as a 17-year-old in Gainesville, Florida. Starting in 1997, Grace performed as a solo act wherever anyone would have her, drawing much influence from early acoustic protest music. By 2001, she'd beefed up her sound with the help of a full band -- including guitarist James Bowman, drummer Warren Oakes, and bassist Andrew Seward -- but there would always be some...
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Reinventing Axl Rose, Against Me!
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