[Free Download // https://americananymen.bandcamp.com/album/start-my-center]
The first thing I need to say about this album by American Anymen is that on the first song there is a line which repeats like a chorus that goes "Don't ask me where I fucking work or what I fucking do" and right then and there they have me hooked because I feel like we're of the same mentality. I've always felt- with apologies to all who have ever asked me- that asking someone where they worked was one of the lowest forms of communication. I'd really rather not talk to people at all, but that's just me, but yes, it is better in my opinion to keep your mouth shut than ask someone where they work because if that's all you can come up with you're not worth my time.
I have a four year old son, I love professional wrestling, baseball, cartoons, music, comic books, just so many different things we can talk about and yet you want to ask me where I work and talk about that. American Anymen gets how that is a stupid question and topic to discuss, so yes, this was love at first listen.
From there we can divide the songs on "Start My Center" into two categories- the lyrics and the music. Musically, these songs are mostly acoustic and wild. They have punk qualities to them but they also remind me of somewhere between Blue October, Fred Schneider, a little bit of TMBG and there are also the male and female vocals trading off at times which reminds me of Cars Can Be Blue because, yeah, this could even be an angry twee to some extent.
It is also said several times within the songs that they are of a hip-hop nature and I do believe that they can be, though it is not a traditional one. I feel like in that sense this reminds me a lot of The Uncluded which is always something I want to be reminded of really because they just have that same great wordplay and back and forth quality with the lyrics that this just becomes so addictive when you're listening to it.
The lyrics themselves are counterculture (which is also the name of a song), somewhat political and just take a stance on topics which I also like to stance on so it kind of works out. There is a part in here about how women can't be considered real musicians or artists unless they're taking their clothes off and that's something which I believe society tends to think of and even though I read so much about it I never feel like it's stated enough. You know, that and I bet that Tracy Brooks gets mistaken for the "merch girl" a lot or is simply told by bookers that they'd like to speak to the man of the band or whatever.
Aside from music in general still being fairly sexist, which obviously needs to be addressed so it can change, there is a song called "Money Art" which is something I struggle with every day. And it's not so much that you're doing your art for money- like when Jane Lane started painting knockoffs. It's more about whether or not something can still be considered art if you're not getting paid for it. It's the idea of "professional artist" which really bothers me as well. You have to think of someone like Daniel Johnston recording countless cassettes just because he had to get the music out and what makes him an artist-- that they sell now? Absolutely not. He was an artist before he ever sold a single song.
The song "Money Art" also somehow discusses how you want to make songs so they can end up in car commercials and the such and I truly believe that there are bands out there who think that way and then they get into these meetings with record execs and it's like, "Guys, this song is huge. Like, Toyota campaign huge" and it just makes me sick because too much of the focus on music is about money and let's just say the wrong things and leave it at that.
Most people might not remember this but back when I started Raised by Gypsies- before I was reviewing a ton of cassettes- I would find music on Bandcamp that was either free or of a name-your-price download and discuss what was good about it and so why you should download it for free. Basically, I felt like I was sifting through all of the free Bandcamp music for you, the readers. I also feel like there is this upside down quality to music right now where everyone knows who <fill in the blank here> is but their music sucks and yet only the minority of music fans know about <fill in another blank here> and their music is rather genius.
To me, American Anymen represent all of the things which I want to say but cannot because I'm not a musician or at least not as talented of one as this band is. They also represent the idea that music and money should not go hand in hand- that is to say that the best artists are not the ones making the most money- and, again, that just goes with my musical world being flipped upside down and how that needs to change. Those with actual talent need to be recognized over those who are making music simply because of who their daddy is. And a lot of that change can start right here with this album, which has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. And it's free to download on Bandcamp so I don't have to feel badly about bootlegging it onto cassette.