|Photo by: Anti-Flag.com|
Key Tracks: “Broken Bones,” “Bullshit Opportunist,” “Resist”
Punk-rock just might be the best way to bring political awareness to a generation with attention spans that last only the few moments it takes for a webpage to load.
Anti-Flag’s The General Strike pushes short blasts of political and social consciousness at its listeners in the form of 1-to-3-minute anthems. With its longest song, “The Neoliberal Anthem,” clocking in at 3:18, and its intro, “Controlled Opposition,” flying past at 20 seconds. The General Strike may be an indication of the best formula to inform those whose attentions are in too many places at once.
Anti-Flag, as their name suggest, challenges nationalist notions with grab-you-by-your-shoulders-and-shake-you punk since the 1980s, and are certainly showing no signs of letting up. As long as there is something to question, trust that Anti-Flag will be there to challenge it.
In a time when social and political tensions feel higher than they have been in years, it’s a perfect time for Anti-Flag. People with “something to scream” (“Resist”) about may find just the thing within the exclamatory anthems of The General Strike to finally coax their voices from their throats.
The “revolution” cited in “The Ranks of The Masses Rising” feels, now more than ever, like it could very well happen.
I remember the first time I saw Anti-Flag live: As they lead a rowdy crowd in chanting “YOU’RE GONNA DIE, GONNA DIE, GONNA DIE, GONNA DIE FOR YOUR GOVERNMENT!” at Warped Tour, I stood back, a wide-eyed teenage girl, avoiding the flying fists and stomping boots in the circle pit. Nothing I had ever seen to that point had been so straightforward in its protest, and the Bush-era fed-ups reveled in it.
A new generation of fed-ups will be sure to find greatness in The General Strike, especially if they are politically and socially pissed off (and Anti-Flag believes they have every right to be), and also interested in modern punk that is a bit more aggressive than other popular hybrids of the genre.
And, in Anti-Flag fashion, the band remains up-to-date. Always an ally of the “angry, young and poor,” it’s no surprise to find Anti-Flag paying homage and giving advice (“No rest; for, the wicked never sleep!”) to protesters in the Occupy movement in “Nothing Recedes Like Progress.”
While Anti-Flag has always remained more true to form in the music they make, they make strides toward a more pop sound in The General Strike. The opening of “The Ghosts of Alexandria,” which ends sounding ever-so-slightly Gaslight Anthem-y, would fit comfortably beside a New Found Glory song. “1915,” an ode to songwriter and activist Joe Hill who was killed by a firing squad in the title year, is longer and more structured. “Turn a Blind Eye” and “This is the New Sound” are also lighter and comparable, in some senses, to a more Alkaline Trio-esque sound.
The lighter songs provide more variety to the album than most of the band’s previous work. However, songs that are more hardcore-influenced stand out the most on The General Strike. “Bullshit Opportunist,” “Resist” and “I Don’t Wanna” impress with speed and aggression: a form Anti-Flag has perfected.
Though the strength may be in the more aggressive numbers, the pop-toying works for a band that has always infused sing-along “whoa ohs” into their social awareness
“Broken Bones,” arguably one of the best tracks on the album, gains power through gang vocals and may be more open to personal interpretation than the more overtly political songs on the album.
The sort of aggression and the overload of information in The General Strike marginalizes and challenges. It is certainly not the most welcoming of music, but it’s not exactly meant to be easy listening. It’s meant to inform and to motivate.
The General Strike is an album that might require some research on the part of its listeners, but that’s the point.
No matter your political affiliation, Anti-Flag’s message is: “Hey, do you know this is going on in the world, and why don’t you fucking do something about it?”
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