In high school I rode around in my friend’s broken down 1990 Dodge Caravan that leaned slightly to the right and smelled like hockey equipment. The van had a tape deck that we proudly rocked out to our favorite tunes on. If Against Me!’s White Crosses would have come out when I was in high school, this would have been cranked to 11 in our chick-mobile.

My esteem colleague, for the second time in less than a month, has selected a punk album. There must be an inner angst striving to get out and yell at the world…and I’m a fan.

When I first eased White Crosses into my tape deck and started the Caravan it proved to be great cruising music for a late spring day. Sadly, I don’t actually drive a Caravan today, it’s still cold here in Spokane, and it was my CD player not a tape deck. Nevertheless! We continue. I rocked through this album twice without stopping in between. I didn’t give much consideration to what it might actually be written about. I was drawn into the sheer rock that was flying out of my speakers with little discretion.  I quickly gained an appreciation for the album as a whole. Then I started to crave a Slurpee, so I pulled my preverbal Caravan over and got out. Walking into the store I was whistling “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”.

When I got back in I popped the tape out and turned on the radio. Just like that my enthusiasm for rocking out and being a hardass punk rocker went dormant.

About a week later I picked it up off the floor, brushed off the crumbs from the cracker eating whistling contest, and threw it back in. This time I approached it knowing that the band didn’t have the most generic beginnings. With a newfound admiration I listened a little more closely.

Lead singer/guitarist Tom Gabel started the band when he was 17 as a solo act. Since 1997 he has grown his dream into the five studio album punk rock legacy. His lyrics have been fueled by anger and bitterness, mainly at people claiming to have been a fan since inception. Not the Leonard DiCaprio movie, the beginning of the band.

This album certainly fits into my library. If I’m ever in a mood to cruise around on a warm day with the windows rolled down. This will help me feel cooler about myself, regardless of what I drive. Sadly, as with most modern punk bands, there isn’t enough to push it into the realm of amazingness. Although, it is worthy of keeping around in case you need a good rock out. Better than most, this falls somewhere between wonderful background music and borderline situational addiction (warm day? Check. Cruising? Check. Smell of hockey equipment? No.)