Album Reviews, Highlights, Music

Review: Bad Religion – The Dissent Of Man

In an interview prior to the release of The Dissent of Man, Brett Gurewitz had referenced Tom Petty and The Kinks as influential outlets for the album’s songwriting. It was a disarming statement at first, but why can’t a Bad Religion album sound a little like something Ray Davies would have written? Yet as The Dissent of Man unfolds, it is clear that it is still a distinctively Bad Religion album- compact melodies, sharp guitars and Brooks Wackerman’s great percussion work- but there are many instances where they venture out into the kind of ambition unseen since Into the Unknown.

It isn’t a grating, blatantly abstract form of musical diversity- they’ve exercised these textures with certain restraint. Most evident perhaps, in the closing “I Won’t Say Anything”, an acoustic driven, soft rock-tinged tune that will play closer to Tom Petty and Ray Davies than Greg Ginn and Steve Soto. But the song’s diversion from the regular Bad Religion sound is still in line with the album’s bigger thematic nuances- so it doesn’t feel out of place. Mid tempo tracks “Won’t Somebody” and “The Devil in Stitches” are from the same book as “The Answer” and “Honest Goodbye” while “The Pride And the Pallor” is a great example of forward thinking songwriting blended perfectly with accessible rock aesthetics and their trademark lyrical attack.

Where The Dissent of Man really tests the waters are with its two (yes, two) love-themed tracks, and as alarming as it is to know that Bad Religion have written a love song, it is less so once you hear it. Lyrically, it’s a mix of cheese and embittered lovelorn couplets in “Cyanide”; “Let me say / (Oh oh) well there’s no place left to hide / (Oh oh) from the loneliness inside”, complemented well by the song’s country-punk flavoured sound. “Turn Your Back On Me” is equally pessimistic.

The most effective aspects of The Dissent of Man are when Bad Religion ups the tempo and dives into more familiar waters. “Only Rain” and “The Resist Stance” (first heard on 30 Years Live) is closer to vintage BR, while tracks like “Meeting of the Minds” and “Wrong Way Kids” would not feel out of place on Generator or Against the Grain.

Gurewitz has said that there have been a few cases where they would step back from the progressive writing to pen a more straightforward punk album (as with New Maps of Hell and The Empire Strikes First) but this is not one of those times. Greg Graffin has made no secret of the band’s intake of music outside of punk rock since their earliest of days. Their latest simply shows these influences on a more prominent level. Some 30 years after their formation, The Dissent of Man is proof that one of the smartest bands on Earth is still challenging music on a multitude of levels. They’ve now challenged long-time fans and listeners as well, with remarkable effect. (Epitaph)

[xrr rating=4/5]

AUDIO STREAM: “The Pride And the Pallor”
Bad Religion – The Pride And the Pallor (from the album The Dissent of Man)

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Film

Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinski team up for The Lone Ranger

Collaborators on the Box Office conquering series The Pirates of Carribbean, Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski are teaming up bring to the big screen a new adaptation of The Lone Ranger.

Deadline Hollywood is reporting that the movie would have  Jerry Bruckheimer in the producers seat while Depp would saddle up as … Tonto.  No word as of yet who will be named as the Lone Ranger.

HihoSilverAway!”

This Verbinski related news gives us an excuse to post our favorite Verbinski moment, and it has nothing to do with making films.

Back in the day, Verbinski was of course, a member of short-lasting punk rockers Daredevils, whose other members included Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph head-honcho Brett Gurewitz. This was the one single/video they made. It’s better than the last Pirate of the Caribbean film.

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Music

New Bad Religion album streaming in its entirety

The new Bad Religion album, The Dissent of Man, is now streaming in its entirety on their MySpace page. The album, due out September 28th via Epitaph, is the follow-up to 2007’s New Maps of Hell. Bad Religion recently celebrated their 30th anniversary as a band and gave away a free 17-track live album titled 30 Years Live.

Not content with just writing and recording a new album, front man Greg Graffin has stayed busy writing a book. Titled Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God, the collection details Graffin’s life growing up as well as “the formation of his naturalist worldview on questions involving God, science, and human meaning.”

Like The Dissent of Man, the book is scheduled for release September 28th. Pre-orders for both the album and the book are available via Epitaph.

After an initial listen, it is easy to say it’s “vintage Bad Religion” but it will take more than a few listens to fully get the breadth of the release. We have our a copy and will digest it proper and share a review in the near future.

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Music

Brett Gurewitz talks shop

Spinner recently spoke to Bad Religion guitarist (and Epitaph founder) Brett Gurewitz about his songwriting and the upcoming Bad Religion album, The Dissent of Man. The video of the interview can be streamed below.

In the interview, Brett talks about the differences between his methods of writing to that of front man Greg Graffin, highlighting their unique approaches to collating and collecting material for the new album (including how the new album boasts influences from the likes of Tom Petty and The Kinks). Graffin himself has been busy as of late, finishing up a new book titled Anarchy Evolution.

The first sample from the album, the track “The Devil in Stitches” can be streamed via Soundcloud and is similar to New Maps of Hell’s “Honest Goodbye.” The song’s pace is akin to their material from the past 5 years or so- trading the breakneck speed of Suffer for more textured songwriting. It however, is not lacking in the melody department. “The Devil In Stitches” proves that these seasoned punk rockers are still very much taste makers of the genre.

The Dissent of Man and Anarchy Evolution can now be pre-ordered via Epitaph. A worthwhile deal for those needing fuel for the intellect.

Video interview:
http://o.aolcdn.com/videoplayer/AOL_PlayerLoader.swf

As a bonus, Brett took Spinner on a walking tour of the Epitaph office. Safe to say this label is doing all right for itself.
http://o.aolcdn.com/videoplayer/AOL_PlayerLoader.swf

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Music, Videos

Rancid recording with Brett Gurewitz

RancidLong serving punk band Rancid have once again tapped Epitaph head honcho and Bad Religion axeman Brett Gurewitz as the producer of their next LP. The upcoming record will be the first for the band since 2003’s Indestructible, their sole release on major label Warner Bros.

Members of the band have been busy with other projects since, with both Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen releasing either solo records or side project albums. The new album will be the first without drummer Brett Reed, who recently departed and was replaced by ex-Used member Brandon Steineckert Continue reading

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Album Reviews, Music

Review: Bad Religion – New Maps of Hell

It’s easy to call Bad Religion “old” … because after listening to the initial samples of the New Maps of Hell, the song “Honest Goodbye” in particular, the gut reaction is “man … these dudes sound old.” But after repeated listens, you realize that “old” isn’t quite the word you’re looking far, but rather “ripe.” Ever since Brett rejoined the ranks (and the band returned to Epitaph), they’ve been searching for their perfect tone- in both songwriting and production- that would keep the band relevant in the current music landscape while not forgetting their rather dynamic and significant past. The New Maps of Hell then, is their conquering ode to the Bad Religion history that not only holds up well alongside some of their greats, but finally marks the pinnacle of their reformed and re-energized sound.

Their initial foray back into the “indies,” 2002’s The Process of Belief and 2004’s The Empire Strikes First, were relatively benign in their composition- providing instances of flair but rarely holding out for the duration. Thankfully, they never encroached on becoming caricatures of themselves and even their most uneventful of songs proved at least worthy of a few listens. Bad Religion seemed to merely chug along (as opposed to blazing through as they once did) on their most recent records, and it really isn’t until you listen to New Maps of Hell a few times that you realize it’s the natural progression from their previous two. It still has the expected up-tempo punk numbers, “Murder” and “Requiem for Dissent,” rip through the paces as “Modern Man” and “I Want to Conquer the World” once did, it’s just that their more mid-tempo, slow-building songs have finally found comfort beside them. “Honest Goodbye” may actually turn out to be one of the finest cuts from the album- a song reminiscent of Generator’s “The Answer” in potency. The band’s noted melodic tone is ever present as well- songs like “Dearly Beloved” and “Grains of Wrath” evoke some of the band’s finest moments, while maintaining a certain urgency to them.

It is however, no secret that once you’ve heard a few Bad Religion albums, you’ve really heard them all. New Maps of Hell is certainly no musical messiah of the future- it really is the same Bad Religion album, topically and musically, since 2002, just much better. The one true throwaway track of the release is the opener “52 Seconds.” It really should be renamed “a waste of 52 seconds” as the track does nothing to further the band or the album. If the band were ever in danger of self-parody, this song would be it. But as soon as the machine gun percussions of “Heroes & Martyrs” kick in, it’s pretty sweet sailing from then on.

New Maps of Hell won’t change your mind about Bad Religion whatever your current view on the band is. While it may not be the band’s finest moment, it is easily the best album they’ve done since they left Sony, and it is clear that Bad Religion remains the shining beacon amongst the sea of noise that has become the cross-pollination of the major label world and the independent one. (Epitaph)

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