"White People For Peace" by Against Me
When Against Me! released its 2002 debut, Reinventing Axl Rose, frontman Tom Gabel didn't just scream about anarchy, he applied it to his songwriting. That scattershot, folk-punk clunkiness was part of AM's punch and charm, even though it's eroded with each subsequent release. New Wave is the Florida group's fourth full-length and its first on Sire—and predictably, it's a prime example of what happens when a once-DIY band whittles off even more of its rough edges. New Wave's triumph is its ability to rise above Butch Vig's airtight alt-rock production with gruffly sung, hook-heavy songs that show a dark maturity (such as the impressionist, dreamlike "The Ocean") while perpetuating AM's shout-along populism. (The disc's title track makes this explicit with its rallying cry of "We can be the bands we want to hear / We can define our own generation.") And although Against Me!'s politics have thankfully become increasingly questing and complex, the band once waved the black flag of anarchy; had Gabel and crew found a way to bring that joyous chaos to the studio, New Wave might have been more than simply outstanding.