Give your singer some space when you play the three-pack of Rise Against songs: This is smart, topically-charged punk rock, with lyrics that are really sayin’ something. The Chicago quartet doesn’t classify itself as a political band, just as a socially responsible one that believes in shedding a positive light on things.
Inspired by trailblazing bands like Bad Brains, Black Flag, and Fugazi, Rise Against recorded first for the influential indie Fat Wreck Chords, then moved up to the majors with credibility intact. The big-label debut, The Sufferer & The Witness, turned the band into overnight stars.
From that disc comes “Prayer of the Refugee,” whose loud-to-soft shifts show the band’s newfound sophistication (and make for great gameplay). Last year’s followup Appeal to Reason is the home of our other two tracks, both showing the band at its most aggressive. “Savior” is about as close as they get to a love song, while “Re-Education (Through Labor)” deals with the culture at large. The band lifted the title of the album from a socialist journal that was popular at the turn of the last century — workers’ rights are a favorite cause of the band, along with green energy and animal rights. So is rocking hard, and they’re on tour this summer with fellow punk trailblazers Rancid.