Spent a good deal of time today with the upcoming Broadway Calls release, Good Views, Bad News. It doesn't come out until August 18th, but for those of you who (like me) loved the self-titled record, their split with Teenage Bottlerocket and the first EP... this is a worthy adversary that might be one of the big sleeper releases of 2009. More polished with a bigger budget in control, but it doesn't keep this album from shining.
Lots of good energy, big hooks and an electricity that flows into your entire system. I didn't expect this to top the self-titled disc, but it might be able to. Really solid from start to finish, and doesn't overstay its welcome (only 34 minutes long).
In a summer full of pop-punk records bound to grab a majority of interest (Set Your Goals, All Time Low), it's good to have that alternative go-to record not too many people are expecting. What a bright little ray of sunshine to have in your summer music collection.
SideOneDummy did a good thing in signing these Oregonians. I might even say that SideOneDummy is the best label at the moment. Look what their bands keep putting out! Quality shit, man! Anti-Flag, Fake Problems, Broadway Calls, The Gaslight Anthem -- they are every punk rock fan's Drive-Thru Records circa 2001 at this present time. Plus, the band is also signed to Adeline Records, co-owned by Billie Joe Armstrong. Not too shabby.
Let's just hope SideOneDummy can keep it up without any backwalking shenanigans. Yeesh.
Like many fans, I was severely let down by last year's The Bright Lights of America. It felt as if the major label machine had finally stolen the wheels from Anti-Flag's well-oiled big rig. Uninspired, forgettable and very by-the-numbers, The Bright Lights of America just left the band as a shell of its old self.
Thankfully, 2009 brought a heaping of new horizons, because the band ditched RCA and signed with SideOneDummy, a label who has been working wonders with The Gaslight Anthem & Fake Problems, just to name a few. I will admit Anti-Flag has had their hits and misses in the past, and I've certainly enjoyed their rawer punk past and their new-millennium more-polished aggression. For Blood and Empire was a triumphant punk rock album for the major label circuit, and their new album, People or the Gun, is a blistering, angry, rip-roaring 30 minutes of a band successfully re-discovering the reasons for why they create music for the masses.
It's a combination of old and new, really. "We Are the One" reminds me of A New Kind of Army and "This is the First Night" is an acoustic-based alt-country inspired number (For Blood and Empire had a few songs like this). The first half is definitely stronger than the latter half, as it's far more pissed off (lots of cussing on this album), but it's not really the tone so much as it's the words. "On Independence Day" and "The Old Guard" are anthems for the lower/middle-class, and "When All the Lights Go Out" is a combo (kinda slow, kinda fast & melodic).
"You Are Fired (Take This Job and, Ah, Fuck It)" is probably the angriest song the band's ever written. It's a tirade against major labels, making it seem as if the last record was one they were tied down to, without much room to breathe. 23-seconds in, and Justin Sane has gone apeshit on his resentment for the industry. To be honest, the only song that doesn't impress me is "There is No War Without Warriors (How Do You Sleep?)" -- just lacks comprehension, kinda boring and never picks up speed.
Anyway, this isn't intended to be a review, just first thoughts. I really like the album -- For Blood and Empire and Underground Network are my favorites, and this one is more along the lines of For Blood and Terror State -- still quite polished, but obviously a labor of love (the band produced it themselves). This album should definitely reel the "lost fans" back in.