I’ll predicate this review by saying that my views are definitely biased when it comes to Against Me! Having known both James and Tom for the better part of 17 (or so) years, I’ve seen every incarnation of Against Me! and I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed most everything they’ve recorded. Granted they’ve released some songs here an there that I’m not too fond of, In the end I’ve always regarded them to be a solid band with solid songs. I’ve never let that bias get in the way of my opinion though. A dud is a dud and I’ve never held my tongue in calling something what it is.
Against Me! have always been a polarizing band blessed with the gift of thick skin. In the nine years since the release of Reinventing Axl Rose, legions of fans have come and gone based on the choices the band has made. Their detractors have very vocally (or otherwise) let their opinions be heard while they (AM!) have continued to plug away and do what they’ve always done best: writing and recording new material, pounding the pavement, and playing a great many shows all over the world. They’ve been criticized for how their sound has “changed” over the years and scrutinized for not abiding by statements that they made before they were even of legal drinking age. To say that I admire their “come along for the ride or get out-of-the-way” attitude would be an understatement.
With all of that said, on the 14th of June, Against Me! released the Russian Spies/Occult Enemies EP via Sabot Productions, and I’ve got to say that it’s really good. So what can you expect? Russian Spies and Occult Enemies have a lot in common with their more recent material, however there is a definite melodic punk (ala Leatherface, especially on Occult Enemies) influence on these songs. They’re similar to but not clones of the songs on New Wave or White Crosses which seemed to be more “rock” oriented. Lyrically, both songs are somewhat abstract and definitely open to interpretation. Perhaps reading those lyrics here will give you a better idea. In the end, this tangent/review cannot do the songs on this slab of vinyl justice. That’s why you should check them, or at least one of the songs, out for yourself. Luckily if you open this link here you can hear Russian Spies. In my honest opinion, this is worthy of the $4.00 asking price.