Siren Song Of The Counter Culture (Geffen)
by Grady Gadbow
For most people with any brains, it’s hard to find much to celebrate or even be optimistic about when reading the paper or flipping on the tube these days. Sure, there’s war, social repression, and unemployment, but at least we can get those high-capacity banana clips, right? Even that’s cold comfort if you can’t afford that many bullets. One good thing we’ve got going is that political punk rock is getting good again…
The new Rise Against album is a good example. It’s all vigorous up-tempo stuff without a lot of dumb gimmicks or joke songs, just strong chord progressions and climactic choruses and fairly thoughtful lyrics over a hearty, no-frills rhythm section.
The sound is not unconventional in modern music or anything, but it’s defiantly appealing, even after you’ve seen more than your share of all-ages shows. Rise Against is a punk rock band in the proud tradition of Black Flag, or maybe more like Bad Religion, but they’re no ’80s retro tribute. They’re melodic, but not cute. They find a groove and stick to it to on some tracks, while on others, they get really technical. A couple of the guitar solos seem a little flashy and cheap, but the intricate picking during the verses sounds cool in sort of a Leatherface or Pretty Girls Make Graves sort of way.
This Chicago quartet has been around about five years now and seems to’ve graduated to the big leagues without being replaced by robots.