This is the Archive site for Firedoglake. To go to the main site please click on the following link

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Best Album of 2004 - Bad Relgion, The Empire Strikes First

Let's face it, rock'n'roll has been consigned to virtual cultural irrelevance any more, unable to wean itself from the sagging tit of that aging, syphallitic whore, the corporate music industry. The burning cultural energy that fueled Stax/Volt or the summer of love, late 70's punk or early NWA has taken flight for more urgent pastures (and to my mind they've landed in the blogosphere, but that's another topic altogether). But if I had to pick an album that gave me hope this year, it would be Bad Religion's The Empire Strikes First, worthy of acclaim for its title alone. Bad Religion have quietly and consistently confounded the cliches about what a rock'n'roll band is supposed to be (singer Greg Graffin recently completed his PhD in Biology at Cornell), and they have refused to die on the wings of fashion, celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. As my friend David Jenison noted in Mean Streets, their new album digs at the right with songs like Let them Eat War, about "Southerners living in poverty [who] support an administration that theoretically gives tax breaks to the rich and deployment orders to the poor.” But in Los Angeles is Burning, overtly written about last year's LA brush fires, they also lament the soulless, valueless and morally bankrupt iconography and ideology served up by those who would offer themselves as spokespersons for the left – the Hollywood elite. It’s also catchy as hell. When I gave my 11 year-old nephew an MP3 player for Christmas, Los Angeles is Burning was on it, along with Green Day’s American Idiot and the Dead Kennedy’s Holiday in Cambodia. (I figure, start ‘em early, before they come home and horrify you with some walking Justin Timberlake nightmare. But that’s just me.)