Bad Religion - The Dissent of Man (Cover Artwork)

Bad Religion

Bad Religion: The Dissent of ManThe Dissent of Man (2010)
Epitaph Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: StrizzMatikStrizzMatik
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Bad Religion are pretty damn old. With the exception of 33-year-old drummer Brooks Wackerman, the '80s punk legends collectively known as Bad Religion started when Ronald Reagan was just elected. I mean...damn. After experiencing a late-career creative and popular resurgence with 2002's The Proce.
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Bad Religion are pretty damn old.

With the exception of 33-year-old drummer Brooks Wackerman, the '80s punk legends collectively known as Bad Religion started when Ronald Reagan was just elected. I mean...damn. After experiencing a late-career creative and popular resurgence with 2002's The Process of Belief, 2004's The Empire Strikes First and the return of original songwriter/founding member Brett Gurewitz, the band turned out a disappointingly forced return to their late '80s/early '90s heyday with 2007's New Maps of Hell. It was uncertain where the band was going to go musically after three albums playing to their typical strengths at being...well, imitating the late '80s/early '90s Bad Religion.

With that said, The Dissent of Man is thankfully NOT a sequel to New Maps of Hell. A far more natural, organic followup to the experimentation and improved pop sensibilities of TPoB and TESF, the band channels a bit of Springsteen, Tom Petty, and '90s alt-rock alongside their standard trademarked brand of melodic double-time punk. In many ways it's a spiritual brother to the experimentation of 1993's Recipe for Hate, with even a bit of their Atlantic Records-era (the one BR fans don't speak about) pop-rock songwriting ticks done right. It will unquestionably piss off fans that wanted another No Control or Against the Grain and requires more than one listen to absorb all of the details in the recording before passing judgment.

Greg Graffin turns in what might be his best vocal performance ever on this record, along with penning many of the album's faster songs--the overall majority of stellar tracks like "The Day the Earth Stalled," "Avalon," "Meeting of the Minds," "The Resist Stance" and "Ad Hominem." The influence from his solo work is apparent in songs like "The Pride and Pallor" with its folksy melodies, with only "Someone to Believe" being somewhat bland (and sounding suspiciously like New America cut "Hopeless Housewife"). His iconic vocals take surprisingly accomplished turns in "The Day the Earth Stalled" and "The Resist Stance," boiling over with relentless energy belying his near-50 years of age. His songs unquestionably rule the record on the quality front in comparison to writing partner/co-founder Brett Gurewitz. Aside from the spectacular "Only Rain"--legitimately one of the best songs the band has produced since their heyday--and the great but unintentionally funny "Wrong Way Kids" (according to Graffin it's "Keeeeeds"), most of Brett's songs take a more mid-tempo alt-rock vibe with mixed results. "Cyanide" turns out to be a great country-tinged rock song (with leads provided by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers fame) by referencing--of all things--a Wallflowers riff/song structure to great effect, whereas "I Won't Say Anything" is the most unexpectedly subdued BR album closer yet, but also one of the most delicate songs the band has written.

The problem is the album's sequencing; most of Gurewitz's tracks are packed onto the back of the album, front-loading many of the faster, stronger tracks and leaving it feeling a bit uneven once you hit the last three or four songs. Brett-penned "Where the Fun Is"...is most definitely not, sitting with "Turn Your Back on Me" and "Won't Somebody" (also Brett songs) as the three weakest tracks on the album. While they're not bad songs, they tend to highlight BR's uncanny abilities to self-influence and simultaneously throw B-side material on their records. Dude, didn't you re-write "21st Century Digital Boy" like three times already? But there's that EXACT stuttered chord progression again on "Where the Fun Is." The irony that the band needed Brett to get back to making quality music again in the first place isn't lost on me.

The lyrics are a bit of a mixed bag, as well. While BR's lyrical forte mainly depends on the listener's political/social proclivities, it doesn't take much to figure out that the lyrics on The Dissent of Man are quite a bit less confrontational and a lot more direct/simplistic than before, which might take some fans off guard. Bad Religion just need to learn one important thing: QUALITY CONTROL. They could stand to trim the fat from the meat of their dishes--you don't need 15-17 good songs when you have 10-12 legitimately GREAT songs, track lengths be damned.

Thankfully, despite any missteps on the record, there's likely a hook, melody or guitar riff that pulls you right back in, wanting more. What's particular is how BR have finally started to take advantage of the fact that they have three very accomplished guitarists in the fold. The guitar work is masterful, full of intertwining riffs straight from both the punk and rock playbooks, with lead guitarist Brian Baker turning in his finest performance in the band with ripping lead work on almost every track. Brooks Wackerman provides a tastefully restrained performance on much of the album, with the skill of a veteran and the vigor of his youth, with Jay Bentley dutifully keeping the band's jackhammer rhythms tight alongside Greg Hetson's buzzsaw of guitar. Unlike the bland, direction-less musical path they went on their late '90s material, BR has gained a confidence--almost a swagger, actually--in pulling off a mid-tempo sound by adding deeper melodic flourishes to their sound as they've matured into elder statesmen of the punk rock alumni. The band has truly never sounded better.

With The Dissent of Man, Bad Religion are clearly leaving their speedy past and comfort levels on the backburner and forging ahead with a mature and modern punk rock outlook, fusing many more styles of rock successfully into their bag of tricks. The band could have made a quickie followup to New Maps of Hell but went in a completely different, riskier direction that paid off on a bigger scale creatively. To stay in the past is to allow yourself to be ruled by it; Bad Religion are looking to their bright future and the possibility it brings.


People who liked this also liked:
Bad Religion - No ControlBad Religion - SufferBad Religion - Against the GrainThe Gaslight Anthem - American SlangBad Religion - Stranger Than FictionNOFX - Punk In DrublicRise Against - Revolutions Per MinuteThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeNOFX - The Decline

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
ShittyBassPlayer (January 21, 2013)

Gold absolute fucking gold

majorthreat (October 29, 2011)

How many 30 year old bands are still making good albums? Really, how many?

These guys will never disappoint me

JerseyPunker (February 8, 2011)

Typo: should read "ltd.1k(plus 30) orange." Gave em 1/2 a star to much as well. Oh well.

JerseyPunker (February 8, 2011)

I love BR. I've been a fan for 15 years now. As I listened to Dissent the first dozen or so times, I heard bits of their earlier works, but after 30 years and all they've done, that's no shocker. It's called evolution. For what it is (IMHO), I give it 4/5 as a punk/multi-genre fusion album‚??but as a punk album, I say 3.5/5. For what(ever the hell) Into the Unknown is, I rate it higher, at a 4/5‚??but as a punk album‚??it's a Frisbee. Admittedly I'm happier about my used copy of Back to the Known that cost me more than twice what the ltd. 1k( 30) orange, ltd. 2k blue, & black vinyl bundle did. It has great songs, it's a good album‚??it's just not a great album. I have 4 of the 6 vinyl versions of their self-titled FIRST studio release (I will own all six one day) *for a reason*. As for my Dissent collection, 4LPs & 4 CDs...I jumped the gun. They're still the best punk band in history.

soulbleed (December 15, 2010)

definitely their best album since 'stranger than fiction' ... this basically sounds like a greatest hits album that was re-recorded with different vocals. they pulled sounds from nearly every 90s-present album for this. "avalon" is an awesome song, btw.

Papastar (October 14, 2010)

I can't understand all the hate.

What we have here is a pretty solid and decent album. There's a lot to hear on that record, more than you can think at the first listen. Give it at least a few spins before saying it's shit.

Greg's at his best, the guitar and bass parts are awesome, the oozin ahhh's are epic and Wackerman's tight playing is holding all that perfectly.

Only rain, The Resist Stance, Won't somebody and I won't say anything are pure gems. Perfect mix of aggresssive, mid 90's BR, reminiscent of RFH, blended with influences from their controversial Atlantic-era.

Putting out a 15th studio album and being in a (punk band) are both pretty amzing feats.

Give them a break for fuck's sake.

raveneffect (October 5, 2010)

Decent album, I think its pretty much on par with New Maps of Hell,but I think it may be a bit better. No doubt there's a decent amount of filler on here like their last effort. I agree with others saying that if this and New Maps of Hell were a bit trimmed down on filler they'd be better albums. At this point BR could stop making records and I probably wouldn't give a shit, but they're still one of my all time favorite bands.

wyzo (October 4, 2010)

I like the review, my only qualm would be pointing out the albums weaknesses but ultimately hedging the review's bets with a kumbayah type closing.

Then again, its a weird album. I'm one of many long time fans that heard new maps of hell and after over a decade of fandom turned it off and shrugged. It had filler, boredom and a strange feeling of what the hell do these songs have to do with anything? Talk about spinning the wheels, it just felt boring. Screwing around, nothing else.

So this album is better than new maps of hell, which was so LA-centric in a bad way, as if they stopped writing with any sense of purpose and a sense of careerism.

But while this album is better, its also their most flailing. I'm confused by its failures, I'm hesitant and qualify its successes and I worry that I'm done with the band.

Take the opening track. His vocals pop, stand out, good start, but then these lyrics just stop everything:

"Do you remember when we were young, adventure had no end?
Those were the days my friend. But I‚??m not talking about that at all."

I want to emphasize that last line. What? huh? so your not talking about what you were just talking about, so.....why were you just talking about it? why even mention it, why having mentioned it even bother saying 'nevermind' IN THE FUCKING SONG. Just write better lyrics and record those.

It gets worse. So now that he has digressed and gotten back on lyrical track the next line, which only fits into the melody line of the song because Graffin thinks it a good idea to fit all of the syllables needed in 1/4 the time and space and shove this sentence in a space that really only can handle a few words, is:

"Do you remember when you marred my future with a sickly parasitic pall?"

now try to say the last 9 words in a few seconds, now try to sing them that fast. It's like Bad Religion wrote the song, and COULD NOT change the song once recorded, and somehow were also FORCED by contract or some international law to use these lyrics and just had to make the song fit.

Ignoring how the tone of the lyrics shift from conversational to mentioning oh hey, do you remember that "sickly paraistic pall" you marred me with? a pall that is never detailed or actually described with any more detail then that that was the day the earth stalled. Over and over.

Anyway, Brett's songs have some oomph and I think had the most potential on re-listen, I dig his failures in a way, but even his are thin, just choruses without a song to hang on.

Ad hominem is one of the best choruses in terms of melody but worst in terms of what they are harmonizing is the term Ad Hominem, not necessarily that sexy.

The closing song is great but decides to repeat its chorus instead of developing into anything. Repeat chorus is now Mr.Brett's Heroin. Kick it soon please, you can still write tunes.

Tracks 7-9 are absolute filler.

There worst sin on this record is replacing a big picture melody or harmony with the repetition over and over of a single rambling, random guitar solo melody played on a guitar. Since hearing it at the start of "The Lie" on Process of Belief, it somehow has multiplied into 6-7 variations of that same exact thing (even down to how long the solo melody lasts) all over this album, to the same boring, filler effect. It's like Brett and Graffin plus 8 bad songs.

BUT, based on this albums confused but latent promise compared to Maps, I will give the next record a spin.

hayman (October 4, 2010)

It's Bad Religion. Would be hard not to be 5 stars in my opinion.

TheMike (October 4, 2010)

I'm here to review reviews of the review.

FuckYouOiOiOi (October 3, 2010)

is this the sextion to review the album or to review the review?

CobraSkullsFan (October 3, 2010)

mostly tolerable. hate track 4. ew. lyrics. bleh.

JerryCola (October 3, 2010)

It's almost scary how I completely agree with 95-97% of this review.

StrizzMatik (October 3, 2010)

"LMAO Reviewer can't take a bit of criticism. Your review is weak. Deal with it.

I understand levity. I even understand you that you gave it a shot. You just failed."
My problem isn't criticism. My problem is people who criticize in a broadly general way with no substance or point behind it just to be a greasy fucking troll. You added exactly NOTHING in way of a counterpoint or argument against it other than "it's weak" with no example to back it up, so your opinion means dick. Fail at life some more.

TheMike (October 2, 2010)

"Your review is weak. Deal with it.

I understand levity. I even understand you that you gave it a shot. You just failed."

Evidentally, you're in the minority with this statement. It's a good review. You haven't made any comments about the album or how the review could have been better, so right now, you're just being a troll. Contribute something valuable to the discussion instead of just being critical.

paulsilence (October 2, 2010)

LMAO Reviewer can't take a bit of criticism. Your review is weak. Deal with it.

I understand levity. I even understand you that you gave it a shot. You just failed.

StrizzMatik (October 2, 2010)

Strikes me more as a mix of TPOB/TESF and a better-done New America, but w/e

MN_DrNick (October 2, 2010)

It's... ok. Didn't have any surprises. It just feels like a they're doing Process Of Belief for a fourth time, but adding more songs. Yeah, Bad Religion is a great band and one of my first punk bands.... but this just really didn't do anything for me. It's pretty much this year's Coaster for me.

Let the shitstorm on my comment begin....

StrizzMatik (October 2, 2010)

And the only reason I said NMOH is average is because... it's average. And a lot of their fans agree, just like plenty disagree. NMOH had maybe three or four GREAT songs, about 6-7 good ones and the rest was average to fucking lazy. And the production sucked. And because I speak for the Popular Opinion too I guess

StrizzMatik (October 2, 2010)

"This review's mediocre. It's overblown and overreaching and overwritten, and it starts off with an unnecessarily snarky comment."

It's called levity, which seems to be something you clearly don't experience often. SRS FUCKING BUSINESS indeed. Isn't this rock music? Isn't this fucking _pop-punk_ no less? It's supposed to be fun. Did I hurt your feelings with my snarkyness? They're fucking OLD, and I mean that in the most endearing way, as they're a testament to bands being able to produce greatness 30 years into a career. I like going on about things like dynamics, musicianship, and subtleties when I write, being a musician myself, and well, it's just my thing. But anyways thanks for the criticism, I'm sure it's just because you obviously can do better, right? You could always write your own review too. Or jack off into your own mouth, either option would be funny as fuck

GlassPipeMurder (October 2, 2010)

totally agree that they need to start trimming the excess off. that was the only thing New Maps of Hell had against it for me ( I actually really liked it, unlike a lot of people apparently)

i don't think so. seems more like a personal assertion made by the reviewer to pass off as popular opinion...

which happens to be false, by the way: http://www.metacritic.com/music/new-maps-of-hell

BarleyPat (October 2, 2010)

Excellent review, lots of good points. I need to listen to it a few more times before I can compare it to other albums, rank it.

itsAgiftANDaCURSE (October 1, 2010)

Most Bad Religion albums I can listen to from start to finish without really getting bored at all. With this new album, along with New Maps of Hell they have legitimate gaps in the album where maybe you wouldn't call it filler but it certainly bores me. There are a couple of really outstanding songs on this new album though.

Prodigalson (October 1, 2010)

One more great album even if not their best. My score would be 4.5/5 but giving it a 5 seeing how many rate it with a brainless 1 or 2.

boxcar (October 1, 2010)

Like this way more than the last two redcords & also feel the Recipe Fore hate comparison (I love that record).

But seriously, to the people saying they love all their albums, minus The New America: while for sure TNA isn't their best material...have you EVER listened to No Substance???

levi-dolphin (October 1, 2010)

This has really good moments, but some of it sounds fucking stupid like "hey i cant deny it, but i wont say anything" but then there are some cool parts to the song. I have some mixed feelings, but this is the band i grew up listening to, so i like it no matter what- even if that chorus gets on my nerves. 10 in 2010 10 in 2010 10 in 2010

i-type-poorly (October 1, 2010)

"the band turned out a disappointingly forced return to their late '80s/early '90s heyday with 2007's New Maps of Hell.


With that said, The Dissent of Man is thankfully NOT a sequel to New Maps of Hell. A far more natural, organic followup to the experimentation and improved pop sensibilities of TPoB and TESF"

This is all I wanted to know. Thank you. Getting the album now.

xcarlupanddiex (October 1, 2010)

great disc !

StraightToHell82 (October 1, 2010)

Some pretty good tunes here, mixed with some filler.
"Meeting Of The Minds" is my favorite.

joemomma420666 (October 1, 2010)

you just review this shit all over the internet dont u boi.

FIVE STARS best BR album since new maps of hell.

MonkDave (October 1, 2010)

Great album, 4 is the right score. Some killer tracks on there like "Pride and The Pallor" and "Only Rain", and "Finite" should have been the last track. I'm a huge BR fan so after hammering this record out all week I'd say the only track I really don't like is "Where The Fun Is" - especially as it's just "21st Century Digital Boy" repackaged, and even more monotonous.

danpib08 (October 1, 2010)

Starts out OK but really runs on at the end, sounds like one long song. They have been one of my Top 3 favorite bands since I started listening to punk & hardcore about 15 years ago. They have had an amazing legacy but it is time to hang them up.

benallen215 (October 1, 2010)

First off, I personally liked New Maps of Hell..... I thought it was solid, well done, and while it was a little "established", the lyrical themes and aggression and epic-ness of the vibe were too good to pass up for me... That said, I thought this album was mediocre, unoriginal, and boring... the "pop hooks" are exactly that, every riff you've ever heard combined with an overly done sound production which totally felt out of place with the new even more melodic sound. This album is overwritten and gives them too much credit just for namesake. Just cause they were cool in the 80s doesnt give them an excuse to make shitty music. Oh, and Brett Gurewitz is a total tool. Just as bad as Let the Dominoes Fall for me

iconoclast (October 1, 2010)

only rain is the only good song on the album.

skeetopunk01 (October 1, 2010)

Yes, Only Rain is the best song by far.

slymer (October 1, 2010)

"Turn Your Back on Me" is one of the best songs, if not the best on the album. Another solid BR release. No complaints.

ryanky (October 1, 2010)

How come no one has listed their favorite Bad Religion albums in order yet?

but yeah, i love this album

souls21 (October 1, 2010)

I don't get all of the hate for "Someone to Believe". That song is fantastic, has the best harmonies on the record, and sounds NOTHING like "Hopeless Housewife". However, "Ad Hominem" sounds very similar to "Watch It Die" and "Where The Fun Is" to "Empire Strikes First". That being said, Bad Religion is my favorite band, and I'm allowing this record to grow on me. I loved New Maps, so to find out this record was slower wasn't exactly something I was expecting but there were a lot of Recipe for Hate comparisons made by the band so I was ready for a little more experimentation.

Favorite Songs - "The Day That The Earth Stalled", "Only Rain", "The Resist Stance", "Someone To Believe", "Avalon", "I Won't Say Anything" and "Cyanide"

jetblackdave (October 1, 2010)

I really like this album. I also like every album they've released (minus New America) so I guess it's not surprising that I'd love this album. The only thing I'd do to change this record is the sequencing. I really like how it starts out but they could have thrown more of the mellow tunes closer to the front of the album instead of packing them all in the end.

R3vengeTherapy (October 1, 2010)

I'm not sure if people are reading too far into this or what, but this record doesn't strike me as anything different than what they've been doing this whole decade, Process of Belief excluded, for the most part. I'm not going to ignorantly say it's bad, because it's definitely not, it just feels like more of the same.

I can't hate on Bad Religion for sticking with a sure thing, but I was hoping that because they were talking about this being their final album they would do something actually risky. I'm not sure that the reviewer even knows what it means for a band to be "risky." For example, Crime In Stereo's Is Dead was "risky," following a straight up melodic hardcore album with something barely related.

I wanted BR to do something a bit weirder, but I know that's asking too much. They've given us 30 fucking years of mostly great, sometimes landmark, material. So I'm not complaining. Good record.

oldpunkerforever (October 1, 2010)

Ivano " melodic hardcore" , hardly. snorecore perhaps..I have never, nor will i ever "get" these guys-oldpunker-

paulsilence (October 1, 2010)

This review's mediocre. It's overblown and overreaching and overwritten, and it starts off with an unnecessarily snarky comment.

ivano (October 1, 2010)

Love the album, of course. I disagree with the review though. I don't think there's so much to say about a BR album, I don't get all these analogies and differences between their records - with a few exceptions they've always just made flawless incredible melodic hardcore. Pretty much the same every time, which is why I love them.

sailin_on (October 1, 2010)

Great review. My favorite tracks have to be Ad Hominem or Resist Stance. Meeting of the Minds sounds like something off of NMOH which I welcome with open arms. I loved that record too. Stop talking shit on the bastard child!

LosPeptobismol (October 1, 2010)

I'm not hearing any Tom Petty or Springsteen on this album, thankfully. It strikes me as more along the lines of Recipe For Hate. But that may be because there's a song on it that sounds just like the one on Recipe For Hate that Eddie Vedder sings on. Whatever. It's better than a bunch of their records and not as good as a bunch of others. I like it.

paulrulzdood (October 1, 2010)

great review. I agree that this is a step up from "new maps of hell", which to my ears had too much of a hardcore/industrial leaning to it. it was too cold or something. I wasn't feeling it. THat said, i loved Empire and Process.

This one is more on the lines of Process. Very warm and organic sounding, much more of a folk/subdued feel to it, although "resist stance" and "only rain" could have come from 1991.

it does drag towards the end...Ad Hominum, someone to believe, Where the Fun Is, turn your back on me...seems like the first 8 tracks all kill and then it's hit and miss for the second half...if not mostly miss. but the album wraps up on a nice number though with "won't say anything".

also, anyone "hoping for another Against the Grain or No Control" REALLY?? there's people out there that SERIOUSLY...in 2010...think Bad Religion are going to make...wow, i just...the ignorance of some people.

hobbzoid (October 1, 2010)

disagree with the review in toto.

Record is great. They haven't done a bad record... Even New America rocks me. This one rules and yes, it's a lot like Recipe For Hate in the best ways.

Babrook (October 1, 2010)

Hey bro, Hopeless Housewife is my favorite BR tune.

lanceuppercut (October 1, 2010)

II was actually hoping for a follow-up to New Maps of Hell which is my favorite of the 5 or so BR albums I own. I listened to this once and dismissed it, but listening a second time and it's starting to grow on me.

ashtraymonument (October 1, 2010)

good review, totally agree that they need to start trimming the excess off. that was the only thing New Maps of Hell had against it for me ( I actually really liked it, unlike a lot of people apparently)

I feel like I make this same argument about too many albums

whatchokesbegin (October 1, 2010)

This is a pretty good review, although it's pretty unfortunate that it is just a duplicate from sputnik. I always thought reviews here were written specifically for the site.

Score is for the album, though.

Anarchypants (October 1, 2010)

Great album but for once the Greg songs are way better than the Brett songs.

Anarchypants (October 1, 2010)

Can any band come out with an album without a Springsteen comparison in 2010? I think not.

Indecay (October 1, 2010)

I really like this album. Saw them live a few months ago and they were awesome.

TheMike (October 1, 2010)

This album is definitely a grower, which isn't a term i would have used for any Bad Religion album since the 90s. It's unfortunate that the album isn't as consistent quality wise. The only songs I don't like at all are "The Day That The Earth Stalled" and "Turn Your Back on Me".

"Only Rain", "Avalon", and "I Won't Say Anything" are the highlights for me.

Problematiclogic (October 1, 2010)

I really like this one, feels like it breaks the cycle after NMOH and TESF with something different. I totally agree that this might be some of Graffin's best vocal work too, he's on fire here. Also, I like the more direct, even optimistic at times lyrics, it gets old to hear punk bands struggling to find things to complain about.

I wish more people would give Brooks credit for refreshing the band when Brett came back though, sure Brett is great but I still think Brooks made Process of Belief the incredible record it is.

rightcliqificus (October 1, 2010)

Released a "free" CD? What the fuck are you talking about?

Rich27 (October 1, 2010)

Excellent and well written review. It's a good album and really it is only the sequencing that is a bit confusing. I like all the songs but they could have a) mixed it up or b) released a "free" CD with some of the tracks on to show the different side of BR.

StrizzMatik (October 1, 2010)

I posted this on sputnik a few days ago too. I love the album, it's still BR but they're not trying to pretend they're 20 anymore, which I'm happy about. "Avalon" is fucking KILLER, and Greg rules this album on the songwriting front by a mile.

LeightonESmith (October 1, 2010)

I am extremely trepedatious about listening to this...

just little warnings like "mid paced", "alt rock/country", "tom petty".... have all my alarms going off.....

uncle_leo (October 1, 2010)

I feel like I've read parts of this somewhere already. Maybe it's just my imagination. Most spot on review I've read so far.

stillanonymous (October 1, 2010)

This review is spot on.

Tyler92 (October 1, 2010)

It's fantastic "Only Rain" is my favorite off of this one.

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