Bad Religion - New America (Cover Artwork)

Bad Religion

New America (2000)


With Bad Religion slated to come out with a brand new album in October, with a brand new energetic drummer and a not-so-brand-new songwriter/guitarist (the return of Mr. Brett), I decided to review their last work. This was before the return of Brett Gurewitz (although he did write one song on this album with Greg Graffin) and this was when Bobby Schayer was still the drummer, and it was also their last release on a major label.

I've always considered their Epitaph works (Suffer, No Control, Against the Grain and Generator) to be their best pieces of work. Their very early stuff, which was covered in the compilation 80-85 was also good, but in a very different way. As soon as they moved to a major label, their sound changed dramatically. It wasn't a bad thing, really. It's not like they pulled a Sugar Ray and went from being a hardcore punk band into a complete pop band. Not to make fun of Sugar Ray, they really actually kind of sucked as a punk band. They're much better when they try not to rock. I'm going off on a tangent now, huh?

Back to Bad Religion. After a couple of releases on Atlantic Records, co-songwriter Brett Gurewitz quit the band. That, my friends, is when Bad Religion had yet another change in sound after Recipe for Hate and Stranger than Fiction both sat well with fans. When they released "The Gray Race", I was surprised. It was pretty good. The songwriting was less diverse, because while Graffin has a distinct style... so does Gurewitz, and the fans missed that. However, we were still hopeful because the band was claiming that their next release, "No Substance", was going to be more "old school" sounding, going back to the Recipe for Hate days. It didn't. While it wasn't a bad record, it sounded completely different. The writing, which made Bad Religion stand out from the crowd, seemed less... significant. The album as a whole was missing a few cylinders.

Now came this album, "The New America". When I first heard it, I can honestly say I didn't like it. I didn't start yelling sell-out just because it was slower, but I did yell stuff like crappy. However, after a few weeks of not listening to it and going to bed each night bitter... I decided to give it another try. Musically, it's quite a fine album. It's very melodic punk rock, and while the song-writing still is missing something (that something being Gurewitz), it was more intelligent and thought provoking than the last album. Here's a review-within-a-review of the songs.

You've Got a Chance - One of the better songs on the album. It's got some good guitar riffs in it, and its fast.
It's a Long Way to the Promised Land - This is one of the slower songs on the album, and I ... well, I didn't really like it at first. I still don't love the song, but I appreciate it musically.
A World Without Melody - Not a bad song at all. Would probabaly go in the "punkish" sounding category when compared to some of the other songs.
The New America - The first single on the album, and you can tell. While its very poppy, it really grows on you. I used to think it sounded pretty stupid and corny, but I really like the song now.
1000 Memories - This isn't very BR sounding at all, but I really love this song. One of the best on the album.
A Streetkid Named Desire - Another not-very-BR-sounding song, but it's good. It's got a nice hook.
Whisper in Time - Slowest. Song. Ever. That doesn't mean bad though, although it sounds like something you'd expect to hear on American Lesion (Graffin's solo album).
Let it Burn - This song was written by both Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz, which made me ponder the notion that they could reuinte. I didn't think it was realistic though, but it was. As for the song, well, I don't really like it. This is the first time Gurewitz has done anything for Bad Religion in a while though, and I'm not going to hold it against him (insert fake laugh here).
I Love my Computer - Oh yes, the song makin' fun of us computer geeks. Besides the subject matter, this song just sort of annoys me. I can't really be more descriptive than that. That's a great song description if I ever wrote.
The Hopeless Housewife - One of the better songs on the album. It's a bit faster than most of the other songs on the album, and very melodic.
There Will be a Way - A pretty slow song, but well put together musically.
Don't Sell me Short - Not only is this the best song on the album, this is easily one of my favorite Bad Religion songs ever. It's the final song on the album, and it really gave me hope that these guys can still fucking rock when they want to.

So there you have it. It's Bad Religion. It's a different sound, but it's not a bad one. However, like I said before, they're releasing an album on Epitaph Records this year, and with Mr Brett back maybe they'll get lyrically what they lost in the last few albums. Supposedly they're going to desert their "major label sound", and go back to the old school genre that made them so famous. They're not trying to produce "another Against the Grain", however... but they're definately letting their early albums which influenced so many punk bands today, influence them while creating this new album. While I havn't heard any singles yet from the new album, in a short interview that Epitaph posted, you could see and hear them practicing what sounded like new songs. While it was difficult to listen to them, it sounded hopeful. By the way, last I heard, the new album is going to be titled "The Process of Belief", but nothing is official yet. As for this album, it could be the end of another era of sound, and leading us into the "new sound"... which could either be incredible, or the same new thing... which is old... or...

Well, that was one hell of a run-on sentence, but here's my final conclusion: I don't know about you, but I can't wait for October.