Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vinyl Vednesday 6/30/2010

[Vinyl Vednesday is a weekly feature about favorite vinyl finds. It’s not meant to be a dick-measuring contest, but it usually turns out that way. This marks the final installment in Against Me! Month, and we’re going out with a bang: Seven records instead of the usual three. Then I promise I won’t write about AM! for a while. Like at least a month… maybe. E-mail with your own big finds!]

Records: Against Me!’s “White People For Peace” single (2007) on clear red, New Wave (2007) on clear yellow, “Thrash Unreal” single (2007) on clear red, “Stop!” single (2008) on black, and “New Wave” single (2008) on black; Tom Gabel’s Heart Burns (2008) on black and “Anna is a Stool Pigeon” single (2008) on clear.

Place of Purchase: Hoo boy. I got “White People For Peace” when the band played with Mastodon and Cursive at the Electric Factory. New Wave and the “Thrash Unreal” seven-inch came from their set with World/Inferno Friendship Society and Sage Francis. “Stop!” and “New Wave” are (I think) from their set with Ted Leo/The Pharmacists and Future of the Left. Heart Burns was pre-ordered through No Idea Records but got massively delayed. “Anna” was purchased from Heather Gabel herself at Tom Gabel’s solo acoustic show at the Barbary with Emilyn Brodsky.

Thoughts: I own an Against Me! hoodie with “White People For Peace” on the back. It is unquestionably the most misinterpreted article of clothing I own. I picked up the single of the same name before New Wave dropped. I was interning at Wonka Vision Magazine and hadn’t heard the album yet. “White People” was my first taste, and I was obsessed with the song from the beginning. It’s a little overproduced, but my word is it a furiously catchy number. I would replace the needle 20 times in a night, trying to memorize the words and busting out the corniest/best rock poses. “Full Sesh” intrigued me on a different level. It’s so much slower and more deliberate than most of the songs in the band’s cannon (Besides “Animal,” oddly enough).

Once New Wave came out, I absorbed it quickly into my bloodstream and snatched it up on vinyl, along with “Thrash Unreal” backed with “You Must Be Willing,” the next chance I saw the band live. I guarded the records like they were golden idols at the Factory bar. The show that night was amazing, besides Sage Francis. Dude can’t rap for shit. Then I took the records home and fell deeper in love with AM!.

“Stop!” and “New Wave” eventually followed, and while I loved New Wave, I found myself enjoying the B-sides even more. “Gypsy Panther,” which I actually quoted in my senior sendoff from La Salle University’s student-run newspaper, Collegian, is a song I still come back to with instant wistfulness. It felt like the band was at a creative high, dropping great songs left and right.

Heart Burns changed my mind about that, though. A bootleg of Gabel performing his solo material at Emo’s in Austin, Texas was promising, and indeed these new songs sounded amazing live. The officially recorded versions, however, were unfocused. “Random Hearts” and “Conceptual Paths” are weirdly overproduced radio rock (a precursor to White Crosses, I suppose). Then things get better as Gabel switches over folky protest music. That part’s actually pretty good. So’s the “Anna is a Stool Pigeon” single, which features the only other track from the Emo’s bootleg: “I Can’t See You But I Know You’re There.” I saw Gabel perform these solo recordings, and a shit ton of AM! tunes, at a solo show at the Barbary in Philadelphia, and it remains one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. Man have things changed.

This concludes Against Me! Month. In retrospect, it was a mistake. White Crosses was disappointing, as was the band’s set with Silversun Pickups and Metric June 28. My review of the album ended up on, where it caused a stir. The lead singer of my favorite band knows who I am, and he thinks I’m a dick. That he would resort to mocking me with half-baked retorts on Twitter hammers home that not all idols should be met. I’m not going to say I’ve given up on Against Me!. But I can’t listen to the songs the same way anymore, and I hate that.

Next week Vinyl Vednesday is going to talk about something fun, OK?

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