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Anti Flag | Mobilize | review | punk | Lollipop


Mobilize (A-F)
by Morgan Coe

More Political Pop-Punk 101 from Anti-Flag. The eight new songs on this record (the second half is a live recording of old songs) run down the usual litany of complaints: The military is too violent, the government is too repressive, some people are too homophobic. Fair enough. As they say in their liner notes, "the days after the 11th were ugly ones," so I suppose there's something to be said for their taking a stand, even one that has been taken and re-taken so many times before. To their credit, they manage to avoid many of the clichés that plague the "fuck authority" set; Anti-Flag seems to be more interested in encouraging (I'm sure they would say "radicalizing") their audience than in taking empty pot-shots at The Man.

But is that enough? Somehow the overall effect is more of a pat on the back than a call to arms. The music (mid-tempo "catchy" punk, with occasional choppy "rock" bits and exactly one sing-along per song so the kids can leave the show feeling like they were "part of something") is too safe, the platitudes ("The schools that they send us to are prisons/the same can be said for their churches too"; "When I'm with my friends, when I'm at a show/That's when everything is ok/That's why I follow my heart each and every single day") too vague to convey anything more lasting than hollow self-congratulation. To be fair, they start to break out a bit with the Hot Water Music-ish "Right To Choose" and the spoken word/instrumental "Anatomy of Your Enemy," but in both cases, they come up short on substance after a promising start. Anti-Flag have their hearts in the right place, but they need to work out their (musical and political) ideas a little more deeply. Old Fugazi and Ruts albums would be a good place to start.
(5337 College Ave. #318 Oakland, CA 94618)

p.s. As a token of their goodwill, Anti-Flag have included a free "A-F Records Sampler CD" with this album. A couple of good punk songs by Thought Riot, a couple of good garage punk songs by Modey Lemon, Justin Sane from Anti-Flag doing a band-less Billy Bragg thing, but the last of the 21 tracks is the highlight: "I Still Love You Julie" from Against Me!'s amazing first EP.

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