Monday, June 19, 2006

Compare and Contrast

Geoff Trainor

Anti-Flag (L) vs Alexisonfire (R)

This post is actually started off with a completely different subject. As it went on, and I started to listening more to the subject matter, I realized it stopped making sense. But out of it came an idea. I liked the idea of choosing two bands and sort of comparing them and making it a semi-regular post. Guidelines? C'mon now, this is Mocking Music, we don't have standards.

For my first attempt I chose two bands that I enjoy immensely on different ends of an incredibly diverse (read: vague) genre of punk rock. Anti-Flag, are the more traditional side of punk, while Alexisonfire came to power during the great screamo revolution of 1812 (or 2001). Anti-Flag are known for their pseudo-hardcore songs with heavy political overtones, while Alexisonfire are known for fast guitars, faster singing and that classic screamo "I scream and he whines" duo.

What these two share are solo side-projects, which end up being remarkably similar to their core bands. Fortunately, one of them is great. The other? Well in my opinion, he should stick with the screaming guy backing him up.

Justin Sane (L) & Dallas Green (R)

Anti-Flag have always been a favourite of mine, long before I saw some guy having an epileptic seizure in the Pulmonary Archery video, which was my introduction to Alexisonfire. So when I heard Justin Sane's solo album, I had mixed feelings. One side of me was intrigued to hear this new material. The other, a little skeptical, that this guy whom I knew for his high energy anti-establishment punk anthems would be able to pull off a subdued solo effort.

But it works. The album itself is actually not much of a departure from the standard Anti-Flag fare. If you remove all instruments save Justin's guitar and slow the tempo, you have this record. Okay, that sounds like quite a departure, but it's not. The songs are catchy and you don't get the feeling that anything is missing.

Which brings me to City and Colour. Dallas Green of Alexisonfire tried his own hand at a solo project. Green and his good old acoustic guitar work as a team on this record. The end result is some of the most whiny music you'll ever hear. Which isn't bad in itself. I do listen to some pretty whiny music. The problem is that he is doing the same querulous voice that he does in Alexisonfire . . . so you are left waiting for the screaming guy (George Petit).

Maybe it helps Justin's case that he is the lead (and generally only) vocalist in Anti-Flag, and any back-up is very similar to his sound. They don't really use much in the way of harmony, so you don't associate his voice with that of another. Hearing him in a different setting does not leave you feeling empty, which is how City and Colour makes me feel. I am always expecting someone else's voice to jump in, and am left disappointed when it does not.

That said, I'm not trying to pick on Green, the first Alexisonfire featured no whiny singing. When the album was released, I loved it because I knew nothing better. Perhaps if City and Colour had come around first, I would feel the same way. Going back to the first one, it just doesn't have the same effect it once had (although still better than City and Colour). It's definitely the dual voices that make the band.

Dallas and Justin Battle It Out Final Fantasy Style. Why? Who Needs A Reason?

Looking up that title is a bit deceptive as I don't really compare Alexisonfire to Anti-Flag at all. Oh well, I can fix that for next time. Or not, whatever works for me. Odds of me actually doing another one of these posts? Approximately 3,720 to 1 or was that the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field?

Alexisonfire - No Transitory
Anti-Flag - Die For Your Government
City and Colour - Casey's Song
Justin Sane - Worst Case Senario Survival Handbook

City and Colour - Sometimes
Justin Sane - Life, Love and the Pursuit of Justice

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