Somewhere inside of me, deep down, there is a gutter punk in me riding the Metro across Houston with a 24″ green mohawk and matching steel toed Doc Martens that sometimes queues up Fifteen, Screeching Weasel, Black Flag or makes me watch American Hardcore with just a little bit of regret to wash the whiskey down. He is the one that usually gets me in trouble. He is the one that turns up the headphones so loud my ears ring when I take them off and my coworkers can hear my music with them over my ears. He is the one that got me into Against Me! and while I love them I have never been an anarchist so it’s been a weird relationship. It didn’t stop me from screaming along with Baby I’m an Anarchist or putting Pints of Guinness Make You Strong on a ton of mix tapes and even though it’s been a while since I queued up an Against Me! album Reinventing Axl Rose is one of those classics I will always come back to. It’s one of those things that comes and goes with me. I never followed the band per se and didn’t know they had a new album out until someone dropped this one on me and piqued my interest. White Crosses is proof that even the most devout punks grow up some day. Sounding less like Crimpshrine these days and more like Bad Religion, not really but close enough if you know the bands, the boys in Against Me! have put together an album that is full of politics I don’t agree with but still love. Apparently they are calling this style folk-punk or some such nonsense. To me it’s just good music.
It’s not the music on this one that stands out though it’s the lyrics that make this album what it is. From the anthem of innocence lost and roads not taken I Was a Teenage Anarchist (“I was a teenage anarchist, but then the scene got too rigid. It was a mob mentality, they set their rifle sights on me.”) to Bamboo Bones (“I’m embarrassed to admit it, I’ve got no grip. I’m leading with my jaw.”) Tom Gabriel presents us with everyday life complete with all of its dirty nasty reality. He throws down the gauntlet and expects us to pick it up. While this isn’t the most rockin’ album of the season nor does it push any barriers it is ultimately an album about not losing faith in yourself and those around despite all the shit this world throws at you and that’s all it needs to be. So call it folk-punk, rock ‘n’ roll or whatever the hell you want White Crosses is a solid offering from a band that isn’t afraid to grow up a little bit and put life into perspective.