Against Me! - New Wave B-Sides (Cover Artwork)

Against Me!

New Wave B-Sides (2008)


So New Wave kind of sucked. Despite the fact that it's grown on me a bit personally, I think we all can agree that it's a far cry from the glory of most of their other work. Whether I'm imagining it or not, somehow it seems like the members of Against Me! know that they dissapointed the majority of their fanbase and wanted to say "Hey guys, wait, we're still decent." Thus the band began releasing the New Wave B-Sides here and there, eventually including all of them on the deluxe release of New Wave and on this little EP available for downloading.

While whether it was intentional is debatable, AM! manage to salvage something worthwhile from the New Wave sessions besides "Thrash Unreal." Though it is only five songs long and a bit disjointed, the EP of B-Sides holds up as a much stronger release. "Full Sesh" is the immediate standout, with a punchy rhythm section and a swaggering chorus of "Do you want to battle with me." "You Must Be Willing" also scores a hit, existing as the (partially) acoustic song that never showed up on New Wave, which was (sadly) their first full-length without a solo number from Tom. In the past, songs like "8 Full Hours of Sleep," "Unsubstantiated Rumors..." and "Beginning in an Ending" have been as stellar as the rest of their material. "You Must Be Willing" is not up to the level of the aforementioned songs, but is still a solid addition to the back catalog. "Untitled" (known to some as "Rock and Rollers") and "Gypsy Panther" are rolicking tributes to the touring life ("Panther") and the artists that influenced AM! ("Untitled"). "Gypsy Panther" is the stronger of the two, sporting an absolutely stellar performance from drummer Warren Oakes and a jolting stop-go tempo. "Untitled" has good intentions but falls a bit flat with its rather boring instrumentation. However, "Untitled" feels a bit in tune with material from Searching for a Former Clarity and is better than the majority of the material on New Wave, making it a decent song overall. "So Much More" is the only complete failure. It is one of the more straight-up rock songs AM! have ever penned and unlike AM!'s cover of "Bastards of Young" it seems like the band is going through the motions in a style not their own.

For all the shit New Wave took, something pretty good came out of it. Had AM! replaced "Animal," "Stop!", "Piss and Vinegar" and "White People for Peace" with "Untitled," "Gypsy Panther," "Full Sesh" and "You Must Be Willing," New Wave could have been a solid album. The good thing is that the band haven't lost their knack for writing worthwhile songs -- they've just lost their knack for choosing which songs should be included on their albums. I assume that most people who give a damn have already heard these B-sides in one way or another, but for anyone who hasn't, they are definetly worth getting your hands on. If you lost faith after New Wave, consider this release and the tour with Ted Leo enough to make Florida's most argued about sons worth paying attention to again.