Posts Tagged ‘ Roger Miret ’

Agnostic Front – My Life My Way (Music Review)

My Life My Way cover

Agnostic Front - My Life My Way

When I reviewed the new album from Roger Miret And The Disasters a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize that Miret also had a new release with his original band, Agnostic Front. It’s been four years since their last release, making it the longest gap in the group’s two decades of existence. Maybe that’s to be expected. All these years removed from the youthful energy that pushed them to the top of the New York hardcore scene, what does the band still have to sing about?

In some ways, My Life My Way is a very safe take on what Agnostic Front should be in 2011. The music is almost as intense as ever, though the songs are now consistently two minutes long instead of one. The lyrics focus once again on the punk scene and Miret’s life on the streets, with the difference that his stories are now in the past tense instead of the present.

So is this a retread, or a return to form? Given that Agnostic Front had evolved to cover other topics in the past decade, and that The Disasters seemed to be Miret’s outlet for stories about his youth, one could be forgiven for assuming that it’s the former. The music supports that cynical position: Music has never been Agnostic Front’s strong point, but this album takes their sludgy, undifferentiated metal riffs to a new extreme. After 15-20 listens, I don’t think there’s a single song I could identify with the vocal track removed. (Take out the drums as well, and I don’t know that I’d ever learn to tell them apart, except for the extra-intense “That’s Life” that sounds lifted from their defining Victim In Pain era.)

On a closer listen, though, the lyrics do justify this album. Miret seems to have grown into a more contemplative, adult outlook on life, and his takeaway from a violent youth turns out to be a heartwarming philosophy of self-determination and the power of friendship. True, songs like “Self Pride” and “More Than A Memory” (an ode to a fallen friend) would have fit in at any point in Agnostic Front’s career, but Miret hits those points more than ever in this album. Then he goes a step farther, with life lessons like “sometimes you have to walk away from everything to get a new start” and the acknowledgment on “The Sacrifice” that he hasn’t lived up to the standards set by his heroes. It’s not deep, but it’s heartfelt, and more introspective than you can usually expect from hardcore. The songs are honest, enjoyable, and keep the band moving forward rather than treading water.

It seems that Miret is trying to impart some fatherly wisdom to the next generation of punks. He has enough credibility, and couches the message in vicious enough music, that he may get his message through where actual fathers are failing. If so, good for him. There aren’t many elder statesmen of punk, and Miret’s one of the few possible contenders.

Grade: B-

Roger Miret And The Disasters – Gotta Get Up Now (Music Review)

Gotta Get Up Now cover

Roger Miret And The Disasters - Gotta Get Up Now

For the past decade, Roger Miret (of the seminal 80’s hardcore band Agnostic Front) has fronted The Disasters. The songs typically tell unapologetic stories of his violent youth and the glory days of punk rock. The result is strangely backward-looking for a genre that usually focuses on the here-and-now. But Miret has earned the right to a few victory laps, and The Disasters’ songs are clear and compulsively listenable, a cleaner, Oi Punk-influenced version of his hardcore past.

Gotta Get Up Now still has these stories of Miret’s youth, but it takes a surprising turn towards activism. Through tracks like “Stand Up and Fight”, “The Enemy”, and the title track, Miret suddenly seems more interested in calling his fans to action instead of just telling stories. This is what I thought I wanted for the past few albums, but the reality is strangely unsatisfying.

This is largely because Miret is so vague on what he’s calling on his fans to do. The message is “stand up and work together”, but the lyrics rarely mention what to work together on. There’s a brief mention about the power in a union, and “Red White and Blue” accuses politicians of lying to us, but that’s about it. He’s much more forthcoming when it comes to details about growing up in the Lower East Side (pissing in a record store, breaking into cars, and seeing friends die), but that’s not going to win him much political capital. Are his intentions actually political at all? “Tonight’s the Night” implies that he’s just calling people to rally around a strong, united punk scene.

The songs themselves are satisfying, of course. The band hasn’t changed much in the five years since their last album. If anything, the production is a little dirtier than the earlier albums, which were unusually clear for punk, and the rest of the band is more likely to join in on the raucous vocals. But they don’t have any especially hooky tracks like “Kiss Kiss Kill Kill” or “Roots Rockn’ Roll” to define the album, and the final result feels less vital than before.

The one surprise on Gotta Get Up Now is “JR”, an loving ode to a son. The song is arranged and performed like traditional country, but using their standard punk instruments and vocalization. It’s an unusual take on the increasingly common punk-turned-country song, though Miret will need to make his voice sound a little more serious if he plans to sustain goodwill for this style beyond this one song. I’m glad to see them experimenting with new sounds, though. The band still has a lot of potential, but needs to find new things to say if they are going to stay as important as they used to be.

Grade: C+