Against Me – The Original Cowboy

Against Me!
The Original Cowboy
Fat Wreck Chords

This record breaks my heart in so many ways it’s not even funny. My first listen to it, driving around suburbia was that this was nothing more then a money grab, facilitated by whom I don’t know. I don’t want to point fingers here. I’ve been an ardent fan of The Eternal Cowboy since it’s release and maintain it’s the last good album Against Me has left in them. But at first spin this collection of demos just felt cheap to me.

Then I listened to it again and it really made me sad. I’m not going to lie, I tried really hard to stick with this band as they rose from basement shows to opening for the Foo Fighters. But New Wave is a shitty, mid-tempo, boring rock record that this band is so much better than. In fact it is The Eternal Cowboy that proves this and these demo’s just remind me of that fact. In their some what more raw and unpolished form, this is the album they should have released. I don’t fault them for signing with Fat and reaching for the stratosphere. I think it’s a fair goal to have. And even when they signed to a major, I hoped that they would make a really great album again because Searching for a Former Clarity had some great songs, but it was sagged down by a cloud of pot smoke and self pity. New Wave for me was just proof that the nail had already been driven into this bands coffin.

Now it’s been announced that drummer and all around nice guy Warren Oaks has left the band to be replaced by George Rebelo from Hot Water Music. A more hard hitting, consistent drummer is not to be found in the swamps of Gainesville, but he’s got no funk in his beats. At least not as far as I can tell. And despite everything, that funk is still there. I’m not sure a middle aged post hardcore drummer is going to save this band for me. And so when I listen to Oaks smack around on the skins during this informal session I just get sad once again.

If this session was the rumored record recorded for No Idea (the band and Fat state it was the demo’s, but conversations I’ve had lead me to believe otherwise) it would easily have been hailed by the underground kids that quickly turned on Against Me. And I’m not sure why, because The Eternal Cowboy is a much better album. The polish and shine they added transformed this band, even if only for 25 minutes, into something to hope for. Which The Original Cowboy just continually reminds me of too. It’s a hard pill to swallow because I so want to love this band again, the way I did when I saw them in a church “back in the day”. I would have been happy had they continued down this path and still achieved what they did. And I do truly believe they didn’t change to be rock stars, I think they just burnt out really quickly. The Original Cowboy reminds me of what once was, but I don’t think I really wanted that reminder.

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