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White Crosses / Black Crosses

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Album Review

Against Me!'s major-label debut, New Wave, was their bid into the mainstream music scene, landing them on major festival bills and earning them the praise of national magazines. It was a record with more rock polish than grit, thanks to producer Butch Vig, and when longtime drummer Warren Oakes later left and was replaced by former Hot Water Music skinsman George Rebelo, it was pretty clear that their follow-up would even further mark a new chapter for the band — a new lineup, a new energy. But what couldn't be known was just how much of a progression it would be. White Crosses is a big-sounding album with a blue-collar soul, but though the guitars may aim for the rafters alongside lofty, singalong choruses, the songwriting ultimately comes off safer and more commonplace than anything they've done yet. The title track never really hits, and the pointed "I Was a Teenage Anarchist" has Tom Gabel slamming the door on his anarcho-punk past with a wide-open chorus that could use a little more heft. Gone are any traces of the gutsy folk-punk that once made them so exciting; the record's arena-ready tone is set by expansive numbers like "Spanish Moss," a gleaming plea to starting over, and "Because of the Shame," where piano dramatics hug a huge chorus that should make the Springsteen devotees of the last few years (the Gaslight Anthem, Hold Steady, Killers) plenty jealous, but will make longtime fans to do a double take. The latter song is actually one of the record's strongest tracks, though, once the shock of its existence subsides. Elsewhere, "Ache with Me" saunters at a slow, window-gazing pace that dulls the record's middle, "Suffocation" is easily forgotten, and the spitfire "Rapid Decompression" is a nice jolt of electricity at the record's end, but it's too little, too late. Gabel spent a lot of time looking back and reflecting for this record — on his youth in Florida, on past relationships, on where he stands now. The resulting album is thus one of growth, disillusion, defeat, and the struggle to come to terms with ideals once held onto so strongly and the realities of growing up and apart from those beliefs. Yet as Against Me! explore their past, they apparently also aim to leave it far behind them. Politics sneak into some songs (most notably in the agitated "High Pressure Low"), but the guys largely seem burnt out on protesting, which is understandable, but it's too bad that the raw intensity in Gabel's voice had to be sacrificed as well. Ultimately, White Crosses is not Against Me!'s finest hour, though it's certainly not their worst. Bands grow up, get restless, and continue developing with every album, so it's not the soul-searching and progression that bring on the disappointment, it's that the bandmembers seem to have done so by completely turning their backs on their past. [In 2011, the band’s own Total Treble Music label reissued White Crosses with a second disc of alternate versions and unreleased songs.]

Customer Reviews

I miss you guys

I tried, I really did, but they are just not the same on this album. I won't say that this album is bad, just different. the songwriting of tom gabel is just as good as it has always been from a lyrical standpoint, but musically the album is light and watered down. it feels like a piece of sandpaper that has been used one too many times, there is just this grit that makes the band great that is really missing here, i don't really feel any passion out of this release, it sounds like someone trying to write what against me writes in a general sense. if you want against me as they should be, check out Reinventing axl rose (their best release) and new wave, plus as the eternal cowboy, and finally searching for a former clarity. If you are like me and worried that we might be losing the boys in AM! check out the latest ep occult enemies, it show that there is hope for redemption yet, (they broke from sire thank you jesus)

A great, emotionally personal album

I realize that when you find a band who fills a need in your life whether it be lyrically or just melody that you some what depend on the band to give you your fix that you came to depend on. It's happened to me on several occasions where I've listened to a band forever & I'll be mad or whatever & I'll go buy that band's new album ready to let go however I'm feeling, just to have the air let out of my balloon when the band goes in a different direction. I get that, and I can understand peoples anger over this album.

But people, drop your guard and listen to this album as if it's a new band you've never heard before. You'll like it a lot more. Against Me! like so many other bands write albums about where they're at in they're lives. Maybe it's my age (or at least being the same age as the band members) but I just connected to this album alot. It's an very emotionally diverse album that really shows what great musicians they are. I personally think Gabel's voice has never sounded better and the addition of the piano among other instruments give fullness to there sound.

And just for any fans that read this and want to know where I'm coming from....and I know I'm in the minority on this, but I think Against Me! has gotten better with each release they put out. Bottom line is this, people get older, the priorities in life change, and not everyones lives progress at the same pace. So will this album meet or connect with, but there aren't many albums that do.

Not Half Bad!

I found this band when I was looking for a Billy Talent replacement, and they aren't half bad. Although I prefer The Wave, this is very good and I found I could easily relate to I Was a Teenage Anarchist :3
Main guys voice is good, guitar riffs are solid, drums are great, lyrics are interesting too.


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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