Admittedly, I was nervous when I heard that the new Against Me! record was a concept album about a transgender prostitute with themes of gender dysphoria. Being a fan of the band, I felt that this was their first album I would not relate to. I don’t know anything about the transgender community and I couldn’t see how I would understand someone going through these types of changes in life. Add to that a new producer, a new bass player, and a new drummer, and I felt that it was a recipe for disaster. Yet, after hearing “Fuckmylife666” and “Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues” on the internet, I knew that this was an album I had to own. Buying Transgender Dysphoria Blues was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues opens with the fantastic “Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” a hard rocking song that immediately opens the eyes of people, like myself, who know little or nothing of what it is like to go through a change of life at that magnitude. The opening drum beats immediately suck the listener in, the blitzing guitar chords hook them, and once Laura Jane Grace starts singing, it is clear that this could be the best Against Me! song ever recorded. Grace sings about the pain of coming out transgender, the desire to just be accepted for who you are, and the pain of being judged everywhere you turn. I immediately realized that my ignorant thoughts of not being able to relate to this album were wrong. While I don’t know the pain of coming out transgender, I do know the pain of not being accepted for who you are and the pain of desire related to wanting to belong. Needless to say, “Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues” received several plays before I even made it to track number two.
The record takes off from there delivering fine music from start to finish. New drummer Atom Willard makes his presence known immediately, and Laura Jane Grace’s voice is in fine form throughout the album. And even though the band changed the entire rhythm section (drummer Jay Weinberg and bassist Andrew Seward left between albums), both new drummer Atom Willard and new bass guitarist Inge Johansson are able to keep exceptional time and create tight pockets for Grace and guitarist James Bowman to perform over. While these four bandmates have only been together a short time, the results sound as if they have performed with one another for their entire career.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues contains a lot of fast, powerful, hard rocking, punk songs that deliver just the right amount of emotion at exactly the right time. Songs like “Unconditional Love” and “Black Me Out” are bound to go down as Against Me! classics and will be fan favorites in no time. On this album, the band never strays from what they do best, which is making short, blitzkrieg, hard rock songs.
If you like your hard rock mixed with punk and thrash, in addition to an us against the world mentality, you will love Transgender Dysphoria Blues. While not the best Against Me! album ever recorded, it comes very close. If you’ve never listened to Against Me! before, this is a great album to discover the band.
- Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues
- True Trans Soul Rebel
- Unconditional Love
- Drinking With The Jocks
- Osama Bin Laden As The Crucified Christ
- Dead Friend
- Two Coffins
- Paralytic States
- Black Me Out
Against Me! Is:
Laura Jane Grace – Vocals, Guitar
James Bowman – Guitar
Atom Willard – Drums
Inge Johansson – Bass
Reviewed by Ryo Vie
Here at Hard Rock Hideout we strive to bring you the most diverse collection of hard rock bands that we can. From the latest rising stars to the old classics, Hard Rock Hideout attempts to discuss them all. However, every now and again, there is a band that just falls through the cracks. One of those bands is Florida’s Against Me!
You may have recently heard about Against Me! for the sole reason that lead singer Tom Gabel publicly came out as transgender with plans to transition to living as a woman. The move created a lot of press and coverage, some of it positive, some of it negative. A lot of hate filled ignorant comments were tossed around message boards throughout the world. I personally feel that what Tom Gabel, now Laura Jane Grace, does with her life is none of my business. My only concern about the transition would be how it would affect the band’s music and Laura’s vocals.
And music is the most important thing to focus on with Against Me! They are an outstanding punk band that really knows how to rock. Filled with temporary anger and rage, the band can juxtapose from telling off the world, to discussing the special relationship between two lovers, in the matter of one song. The genius behind all of this is Laura Jane Grace. The lyrical content of Against Me!’s music is some of the best that I have heard, and it was what attracted me to the band.
Grace writes lyrics that are deep from the heart, true to life, and extremely meaningful. Whether it be about his gender dysphoria, the desire to live and feel young again, or the general rage that we all have been consumed by from time to time, Grace paint masterful pictures with her lyrics and then delivers them with passion through her vocals.
Their debut album, Reinventing Axl Rose, received some critical acclaim and helped the band gain notoriety on the punk rock scene when it was released in 2002. However, it was the album New Wave that gave Against Me! commercial success. New Wave was released on Sire Records and was the band’s first pilgrimage with a major record label. The success of their single “Thrash Unreal,” combined with the marketing of Sire and the mainstream media picking up on the band found Against Me! gaining fans in droves. This caused a number of their older standing fan base to refer to the band as sell outs. Grace was disappointed by their reaction and it put him off to the entire punk scene, viewing the fans as “close minded.”
Currently, Against Me! have released five albums and are working on their sixth, which is due out this year. The appropriately titled Transgender Dysphoria Blues has me both hopeful and nervous. Will Against Me! still bring the same passion, energy, and subject matter that they have in the past? Or, will this major life change bring out an entirely different side of the band and lead singer, Laura Jane Grace. A major change in the musical direction could be absolutely amazing, or it could be a career killer.
If you have never listened to Against Me! before, I recommend starting with their 2007 release, New Wave. This is the album that sent the band into the mainstream, and it was the first Against Me! record that I listened to. It was so magnificent I went out and got two more of their albums shortly thereafter.
If you are a fan of modern rock, modern punk, Pearl Jam, Rise Against, or the Foo Fighters, you will most likely fall in love with Against Me! Start with their major label debut, New Wave, and then see where to go from there. Reinventing Axl Rose may be a good second choice, as you will be able to hear the contrast in styles, themes, and subject matter. Both albums are spectacular, regardless of being very different from one another. And that is the sign of an exceptional band—one that can progress and grow through the years. This is something that Against Me! has done well and it is one of the reasons that they are a band worth checking out. If you are searching for a raw, heavy, and flat out enjoyable sound, give Against Me! a try.
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Ryo Vie thinks we should cover Against Me! more at Hard Rock Hideout, and I would agree 100% (Check out today’s Vie’s Verses).
Check out Three videos clips from Against Me!, “Thrash Unreal”, “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” and “Stop” below!