Year 5, Day 23: Pennywise’s anthem for the activist

Year 5, Day 23: Pennywise – Land of the Free?

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Track List

  1. Time Marches On
  2. Land of the Free?
  3. The World
  4. Fuck Authority
  5. Something Wrong With Me
  6. Enemy
  7. My God
  8. Twist of Fate
  9. Who’s on Your Side
  10. It’s Up to You
  11. Set Me Free
  12. Divine Intervention
  13. WTO
  14. Anyone Listening

About the Album

Land of the Free? is the sixth studio album from American punk band, Pennywise. The album was recorded from February 2001 to March 2001 and released on June 19th 2001 through Epitaph RecordsLand of the Free? peaked number 67 on the Billboard 200.

Thoughts on the album

Political and activists have found solace in bands like Anti-FlagBad ReligionNo-FX, and Pennywise just to name a few. Bands whose music confronts social problems and make calls to action. That’s where we are today with Pennywise‘s 2001 album, Land of the Free?. If it was any other band, “Land of the Free?” would’ve been a brave rhetorical question to title an album. It is an excellent political anthem for the activist, issues a call to action for each and every listener. While the album does get repetitive (most punk and pop-punk albums do), it is incredibly strong musically and lyrically.

The album opens with the fast paced and catchy, Time Marches On. Right off the bat, it seems like this album will be full of fast paced tracks much like their previous albums. But it’s not like that. The album has songs that shift speeds and tempos, making it a an incredibly versatile album. The album was released in June 2001, which was months before 9/11, the Invasion of Afghanistan, and at least two years before the Invasion of Iraq. What could the band be so pissed off about one would think. The argument could be made it’s about President Bush, but the world has always had it’s social and societal problems… even before Bush took office.

What separates Pennywise from being just another “trendy” anti-establishment band? Pennywise has always been socially and politically conscious. Anyone Listening tackles tragedies that were occurring at the time. The World takes violence that happens everyday in the world and broadcasts it in a manner in way that makes the listener wonder if we’ll ever find our way. The titular track, Land of the Free?, is a criticism of the United States for being hypocritical for thriving on national unity.

Of course, then there is the fourth track… Fuck Authority. I’d censor it, but that’s the way it’s written on the album cover, so that’s way it is. It is a siren’s call for action, via it’s demand that “it’s time we had our say…” Musically speaking it’s the definition of a hardcore punk song. It’s fast paced and in-your-face. Some would also argue that it fill the “anarchist punk” category, for which, I certainly won’t disagree.

Conclusion

Land of the Free? certainly paints a perfect picture of life in the United States prior to 9/11. At times throughout the album, it seems like the band is calling out to deaf, while themselves stumbling blindly about in the dark. You can sense the frustration that the band feels with the way the current state of affairs were, but it’s like the solutions escape their grasp. The songs singe with emotion and with a bone-sharp edge. It is a great album that should open up conversations and grassroots movements for years to come.

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