Against Me! – The Original Cowboy

am_originalArtist: Against Me!
Album: The Original Cowboy
Genre: Freak Acoustic/Punk
Label: Fat Wreck Chords

I need no reason to add more Against Me! to my music collection. They’ve been one of the few bands I feel I need every scrap of music they’ve ever put on tape in my own collection. I don’t know why really, but I’m guessing it has to do with the raw, angsty and emotional force they put forth in all their music. So, when I heard that Fat Wreck was finally releasing the long tucked away The Original Cowboy, I smiled ear to ear [as silly as it sounds]. This series of demos that’s said to have been written and recorded in a few hours includes songs that later were redone for what became The Eternal Cowboy, but as a whole, this is the first real unearthing since their initial conception in 2003 and it’s been worth the wait.

It’s really difficult to review a series of demos, but I feel there are bases that can be touched. For starters, this is not a records for any New Wave newcomers to the group. This is the kind of release that caters solely to fans of t he band during their No Idea and Fat Wreck years, or, as some would say, their “underground” years. This comes from a time whent he band was playing basements and bars to kids who were so passionate about the music they would explode at the first hint of, “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong,” or grab their sweetheart for, “Baby, I’m an Anarchist.” This is for the old school followers who want a refresher on where the band has come from to be where they are now. The songs themselves are recorded rather decently and the combination of “A Brief Yet Triumphant Introduction” and “Cliche Guevarra” as well as “You Look Like I Need A Drink” and “Turn Those Clapping Hands into Angry Balled Fists” just scream angst and power to an extent that it’s near overwhelming. In the same respect, the subtlety of “Cavalier Eternal” will have you tapping your feet and swaying your head repeat after repeat. It’s simply a condensed version of the band’s roots and something any real fan should hear.

I’m not claiming The Original Cowboy will amke any top 10 lists this year or even be remembered by the majority of the music scene, but those who get it will love it. It’s a perfect refresher on Against Me’s early days and a good placebo while we await their new record. If you’re a die hard like me, it’s a must own. If you’re on the fence…well, maybe find a stream before you purchase. To me, this is the band at their best, but I’m sure not everyone will agree.

Score: 8/10

James Shotwell
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