I, like many other long-time Say Anything fans, have been waiting years for an official release of Baseball, Menorah Mejora, Junior Varsity, and Doormroom Demos, what many consider to be some of the prolific song-writer/lyrical mad genius Max Bemis' best releases. Now that it is finally out after all this time, the question hanging on SA fans' lips is "Was it worth the wait?", especially with the songs all available online to listen to all the while?
The answer is a resounding YES!! This is by far the album that I am proud to say that I own of all the CD's I have collected over the years. Having pre-ordered the album I also received a Say Anything t-shirt and an autograph from Bem-Dawg himself (all for under $35! Less than a t-shirt alone at a concert venue!). Even without these bonuses to the package, All My Friends Are Enemies includes three discs of pure unadulterated teenage angst that I will dissect by CD.
Disc 1: Baseball
This is my personal favorite album of all time to listen to when I'm in "one of those moods," if not my favorite of all time. I have been absolutely enamored by this album since I first heard the first track, "Colorblind" years ago. "Showdown at P-Town" is one of the most relatable high school anthems ever recorded. "Into the Night" is as empowering as it is heartbreaking. And the album doesn't let up until it's final track "Where the Hurt Is", which has a few minutes of silence before the masterful piano piece "All Choked Up", recorded on a master piano by Bemis in one take! This CD alone would have been worth purchasing for the price of the CD for me.
Disc 2: Menorah Mejora/Dormroom Demos
Having merged these two releases, the Menorah Mejora EP (consisting of the first 7 tracks on the CD) and Dormroom Demos together was initially off-putting, but ultimately understandable as they both share a few tracks with each other. Needless to say, the higher quality MM versions are the ones that made the final cut. This CD offers some of Say Anything's best (and most iconic) tracks such as "A Walk Through Hell", "Try To Remember, Forget", "I Am a Transylvanian", "Baseball, but Better", "Signal the Rifleman", "Nudity" and a lot more! This CD is a fantastic listen!
Disc 3: Junior Varsity and Rarities
This third disc is the only one to include a very recent recording, an acoustic performance of "Baseball, but Better". There are both the classics ("Sappy", "The Presidential Suite", "Thoughts on a Liberal Education") as well as some tracks I was not expecting, such as "Anti-Anti" which is a great parallel to Say Anything's latest release as of this review (Anarchy, My Dear). Some more tracks I had not heard prior to this release were the acoustic version of "All My Friends", the song "Consigliore" originally written for Baseball (with some wonky vocals recorded within the last year...don't worry, they grow on you) as well as Brett Gurewitz mix of "A Boston Peace", one of my favorite Dormroom Demo songs vastly improved (for the most part, there is one guitar line missing here which drives me nuts here).
There is also a fun booklet included with early pictures of Max Bemis and Say Anything (then known as sayanything)with notes from Max himself reminiscing on this early period of his career. Overall, as you can surely tell by the 5 Star review, this album is more than worth the price and one of the best starting points for a budding Real Boy. While many of the songs are very lo-fi and amateur-ish in their recording process, that is half their charm, along with the brilliant lyrics and their passionate delivery. I can't help but feel bad for Max when he sings about his best friends ditching him in high school, but without them we may never have gotten this amazing CD, and Say Anything wouldn't be the band it is today.