Monday, February 15, 2010

Top 50 Albums of the 00s - #33: Bad Religion - The New America

Yep, we're counting down the top 50. Click here for overview and criteria.

The 90s had been kind of a lost decade for Bad Religion. In the wake of losing guitarist Brett Gurewitz, the punk outfit had trouble making their way through the Alternative Revolution. And with a Democrat in the White House politics didn't seem to be as easy to rail against. Reinvention seemed difficult for them, and each successive album offered a little less than the previous one.

The New America roars out of the gates with clanging percussion and a rippin guitar solo on the aptly titled "You've Got a Chance." It loudly and clearly announces that the band has progressed, and the album that follows loudly delivers on that promise. "New America," "1000 Memories," and "A Streetkid Named Desire" pump out a ton of energy. The whole first half of the record has a punchy attitude that almost makes you feel like dancing if you can believe that.

After a brief (but significant) misstep with the banal "My Computer," the last four tracks divert that energy to a more serious message. The songs and lyrics carry weight, pounding the listener with an intensity the band had never previously reached. Finally, "Don't Sell Me Short" speeds us to the album's exit, sending us off ready to take on the whole fucking world.

What we didn't know at the time, but is perfectly clear now, is that this was the last real salvo from Bad Religion. They came back with a halfway decent follow up, The Process of Belief, but that record had all the feel of this album's B-sides. The clearest problem was that drummer Bobby Schayer had to retire because of tendonitis. As much as the group depends on Graffin's witty lyrics and all the "oozin ahs" that are their signature sound, Schayer was the engine that drove the resurgence in the first place. So instead of a new era of one of punk's second wave stalwarts, the album serves as their death rattle (assuming they don't have another bounceback in them). But the good news is that the record still still invigorates and inspires, making what they accomplished here all the more remarkable.

Sorry for live videos. Youtube is less help for the early-decade albums.

Previous Entries:
#34 - Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
#35 - Rodrigo y Gabriela - Rodrigo y Gabriela
#36 - Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
#37 - Crooked Fingers - Red Devil Dawn
#38 - The National - Boxer
#39 - Hot Water Music - Caution
#40 - Eels - Daisies of the Galaxy
#41 - Gogol Bordello - Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike
#42 - Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
#43 - Ladyhawk - Ladyhawk

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