Album Review
Anti-Flag - The People or the Gun Album Cover

Anti-Flag - The People or the Gun

Reviewed by
Anti-Flag - The People or the Gun
Record Label: SideOneDummy
Release Date: June 9, 2009
"I hate a song that makes you think you are no good. I hate a song that makes you think you are just born to lose." - Woody Guthrie

Give Anti-Flag credit for never being condescending or coming across as know-it-alls. This is a band made up of four guys who like punk rock, and are willing to scrap the chance at super-stardom in order to express their messages through song. Maybe that is why so many people were upset when they signed to RCA in 2006, but were still able to release an album that maintained their own values and stuck it to the man with an ironic iron fist that was full of sarcastic wit & pent-up angst.

So, after seven full-length studio albums, Anti-Flag rode the major-label wave and wasn't feeling the surf. Now, they are back where they belong, on a label that has been gaining some serious clout the past year, thanks to in part to their highly-praised roster (including The Gaslight Anthem and Fake Problems). While this should ultimately have the band dancing on clouds and skipping through the woods, Anti-Flag's brand of joy comes from being exceptionally pissed off and letting you pleasure from it.

First question answered: no, just because President Bush is now gone, that has not lifted the veil from Justin Sane & Chris #2 vocal assault on all the utter shittiness that plagues the world. Even at the band's most optimistic turns (the Celtic punk influenced, "This is the First Night"), they still question it all. "This is the first night of the rest of our lives / I can't help but wonder, 'How is it we're still alive?'" Starting out with a brash assimilation on the political standing currently choke-holding the nation's perspective, Sane and #2 switch off on firing lyrical juggernauts into the pit of the political spectrum. "Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington, D.C." swings at those who use the Bible as a means to get their message across & control the masses, and "The Economy is Suffering... Let it Die" tears every greedy Wall Street embezzler to bits, feasting on those money-hungry politicos like tigers at a Siegfried & Roy show (too soon?). "The Gre(A)t Depression" sounds like a Lawrence Arms leftover, again commenting on the shallow & greedy culture that has led us astray.

What makes The People or the Gun succeed is it's blatant honesty & rapid-fire pace (11 tracks in 30 minutes), and that it's a back-to-basics record for this intelligent and well-informed band who took a forgettable turn with The Bright Lights of America, an album that wasn't as bad as it was just unmemorable. Thankfully, this self-produced record settles the score with a handful of pissed off numbers ("You Are Fired" rips through a major-label tirade in less than 20 seconds) and anthems that reaffirm the injustices we face, but remain hopeful that change lies on the horizon ("When All the Lights Go Out," a somewhat ironic title in context to their last album).

Despite all the fist-in-the-air anger, this is Anti-Flag's most focused, cohesive and dedicated effort. "On Independence Day" and "The Old Guard" crush the record out of the yard for a truly organic, emotionally-tense, introspective album that asks you to pick a side, gives you all you need to know and stands its ground. The People or the Gun will inspire you to be involved in more ways than one, and that alone proves music is more than just a catchy tune or a good beat: it's a message.

Political bands are surely not for everybody, but Anti-Flag is here to say that no matter who you are, we are all in this together, wrong or right. Some of it's personal, some of it's broad - yet, no matter how you think, Anti-Flag is ready to back you up and feed you some facts that speak volumes. Are you willing to listen?

NOTE: This album does not see release until June 9th, almost one month from now. Portions of the proceeds from this album's pre-order sales will go to Amnesty International. Not only do you get a free, non-album track, but the lyrical booklet contains some great quotes, information and it's also a kick-ass record! Please make sure you pre-order this for a worthy cause, because in this case, everybody wins!

Recommended if You LikeAnti-Flag's For Blood and Empire & The Terror State... it's still the same band, just getting better.
Choice Cuts"The Gre(A)t Depression," "On Independence Day," and "You Are Fired (Take This Job and, Ah, Fuck it)"

Tracklisting1. Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington, D.C. (Sheep in Shepherd's Clothing)
2. The Economy is Suffering... Let it Die
3. The Gre(A)t Depression
4. We Are the One
5. You Are Fired (Take This Job and, Ah, Fuck it)
6. This is the First Night
7. This is No War Without Warriors (How Do You Sleep?)
8. When All the Lights Go Out
9. On Independence Day
10. The Old Guard
11. Teenage Kennedy Lobotomy
Band MembersJustin Sane: guitar/vocals
Chris #2: bass/vocals
Chris Head: guitar/vocals
Pat Thetic: drums

Online VitalsOfficial Site | Official Myspace
PurchaseSideOneDummy Store
This review is a user submitted review from smoke4thecaper. You can see all of smoke4thecaper's submitted reviews here.
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 52
07:03 PM on 05/07/09
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c_rob2700's Avatar

I admit, I've never listened to Anti-Flag because basically, I've never got around to it. This review makes me want to. Fantastic review, man. I'll probably be checking this out now
07:03 PM on 05/07/09
Tonight I'm Burning Star IV
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zubinmoosa's Avatar
Holy 90% batman!
07:20 PM on 05/07/09
I Blew It!
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FaceLixeMurder's Avatar
I remember back in the Underground Network days, and I was so excited for The Terror State. This sounds good!
07:49 PM on 05/07/09
an Aussie in London
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phil19's Avatar
just recently checked out for blood and empire and a unimpressed i havnt got into these guys earlier. cant wait for this new album
08:45 PM on 05/07/09
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Greg.Kushlan's Avatar
How much of the album does Chris #2 sing on? I can't stand their other vocalists voice.
09:19 PM on 05/07/09
Anarchist Cat Owner
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AP_Punk's Avatar
good review!

still love this band.
10:36 PM on 05/07/09
End in sight, we must fight
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fly_guy's Avatar
Buying this for sure. No try and buy on this go-round.
03:40 AM on 05/08/09
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SanePsychotic's Avatar
Wow, 90%. Nice review, Chris.
04:56 AM on 05/08/09
AIM: Preludepunk27
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elonman05's Avatar
Anti-Flag owns. So pumped for this album!
05:01 AM on 05/08/09
Lights Camera Distractions
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johnnylcd's Avatar
can't wait.
05:50 AM on 05/08/09
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newfoundmichael's Avatar
Interesting. I kinda gave up faith after their last album, but hopefully this one is as good as you say.
06:03 AM on 05/08/09
It Only Gets Better
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ramomcferno's Avatar
I am very excited for this CD! I have always loved these guys and I also liked Bright Lights of America not as much as the other stuff but I still did. This album sounds like it will be great. You get a non album track with pre order? I might have to do that. Good job on the review.
06:32 AM on 05/08/09
Claret and Blue
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3GunGaz's Avatar
Such a fantastic album. I'm really impressed with it. Great review too.
06:52 AM on 05/08/09
Registered User
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No Avatar Selected
Good, but Anti-Flag can make it much better.

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