One of the biggest and most well-known political punks bands in the world, Anti Flag are releasing an acoustic album, ‘American Reckoning’ on September 28th via Spinefarm Records/Caroline Australia. ‘American Reckoning’ is a collection of acoustic versions of songs off the bands previous two albums ‘American Spring’, and ‘American Fall’ as well as covers of 3 iconic and influential tracks including John Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth, Cheap Trick’s Surrender and Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth.
Anti Flag are Justin Sane on vocals and guitar, Pat Thetic on drums, Chris #2 on bass and vocals, and Chris Head on guitar. The band was started in 1988 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has always been well known as being politically charged lyrically, and for their activism in the anti-war and human rights efforts.
The first track is The Debate Is Over (If You Want It). Arguably, there is always going to be a lot of raw emotion in an acoustic track, and there’s no exception here. There is no lack of emotion and passion in Sane’s vocals, or in the backing vocals from Head and Chris #2. There is a video to accompany this acoustic track and it’s simplistic and beautiful, not taking away anything from the vocal. Trouble Follows Me is the next track to get the acoustic treatment and while the instrumental is beautiful, there’s something extremely emotive about the gang vocals that accompany it on this one. Next comes American Attraction, and there’s a bit of a blur between the electric and acoustic in the opening few bars but that fades out and we’re treated to a beautiful acoustic. The gang vocals in the chorus highlight the intense message of the track and it’s just as powerful as an acoustic track as it is with a full band.
For the last 15 plus years, Anti Flag have prided themselves on being activists and having politically motivated lyrics. There’s something about these acoustic tracks that just pushes and promotes the messages conveyed in these tracks. There is so much passion in Sane’s voice when he sings, and with the acoustic guitar to accompany him the political message is that much more powerful. When The Wall Falls and Racist are extremely emotive songs due to their lyrical content, there’s something that makes them that much more impactful as acoustic tracks. You’re going to want to sing along with Sane and the rest of the band with these two tracks, then you’re going to want to scream them with as much passion as possible.
The final three tracks on this album are covers of songs that Anti Flag themselves have been influenced by. These three covers are John Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth, a track made famous by being a protest song against the Vietnam War. It makes perfect sense for Anti Flag to cover this track as they have been very vocal about supporting anti-war efforts. It’s not an acoustic cover but a very emotive, very powerful full band cover. The next cover is For What It’s Worth, made famous in the late sixties by Buffalo Springfield. While you may not immediately recognise the title of this track, once you listen to it you will. It’s recognisable chorus of “Stop, hey, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down” will have you chanting along and rocking out if the band perform it live.
The final cover and also the final track on this album is Surrender, a song made famous by Cheap Trick. “Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright, they just seem a little weird” dominates the chorus of this track and it’s a 70s teen anthem. It’s a fast, punchy, fun cover and the playfulness of the song is really carried across from Cheap Trick to Anti Flag and it’s as if they’ve been possessed by the 70s rockers themselves! It’s a great way to round up the album, and to round up the ‘American’ series by one of the greatest political punk bands of our time.
Pre-Order your copy of American Reckoning, out September 28th via Spinefarm Records/Caroline Australia, HERE!