Against Me!, 'The Original Cowboy' (Fat Wreck Chords)

Critical Mass
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by David Marchese

At 11 tracks and 25 minutes, with unobtrusive overdubs as its most overt evidence of studio magic, Against Me!'s militantly thrilling 2003 second album, As the Eternal Cowboy, could hardly be accused of bloat. Main Me! Tom Gabel heard differently. Thus, this eight-track, 22-minute offering of preproduction demos. Drier vocals and guitars, plus drums that thud instead of thwack, mean that the effect is more like being kicked in the gut by the steel part of the boot rather than the leather. Which begs the question: How real do you want it?

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