Against Me! - As The Eternal Cowboy LP
Fat Wreck Chords
Though not without the hallmarks of Fat Wreck Chords punk, Against Me!'s As the Eternal Cowboy marks a giant leap forward for the label by combining poppy punk rock with leftist politics, Billy Bragg's raspy anti-folk, and the Replacements' beer-soaked version of Americana. The Gainesville, FL, outfit may have embraced a slightly slicker production than with its fan favorite, Reinventing Axl Rose, but no matter how you stack it, As the Eternal Cowboy is an accomplished record of country-folk-punk that would only qualify as over-polished by the most hard-lined, anti-bar code punk kids' criteria. From the opening swampy croon and (decidedly un-swampy) Elvis -- that's Costello not Presley -- rant of "T.S.R." to the sleepy country ballad "Sink, Florida, Sink," Against Me! is inventive and strikingly emotional compared to its contemporaries, and uses its influences brilliantly without sounding derivative. The album's main weakness is that at under 30 minutes, it comes and goes before you know it. But if the Pogues of the South sounds of "Cliché Guevara" and "You Look Like I Need a Drink" are any indication, the band will put out its rambling, shambling slow album one day. At its best, As the Eternal Cowboy is one of the few early-2000s punk albums that transcends its genre and has the rock & roll clout to storm the mainstream.