It’s been a long time since I’ve been excited about any new music coming out. So far this year, two bands, who haven’t released albums in a long time, have released some of their greatest material to date – Against Me! with Transgender Dysphoria Blues and The Lawrence Arms with Metropole. Both bands had experiences changes prior to the release of their respective, long-anticipated albums.
In The Lawrence Arms’ case, their temporary departure from their label Fat Wreck Chords, and becoming the fourth band to release records on both Fat, and Epitaph (their new label) – The Descendents, Propagandhi, and NOFX being the other bands – and perhaps it’s also the distance between the bass player, Brendan Kelly, and the guitar player, Chris McCaughan, who moved to Portland, Oregon, apparently. The speak about their departure from Fat, and their writing process in this interview from For The Love Of Punk.
Against Me!, however, has gone through other types of changes. Life-altering. In the time between their last full-length album White Crosses and their new album, singer Tom Gabel had made a surprise announcement, in which he had come out with the news that he was in the middle of the process of becoming a woman. You can read the Rolling Stone article here. Reading this news in 2012 had me thinking about things, like, that took a lot of courage to come out publicly, or how will the punk community handle this news – would they shun her? For me, what concerned me was that I didn’t know how this will affect Tom’s voice, as he became Laura Jane Grace (awesome name). That raw, and screaming, yet, melodic quality he had was the sound of Against Me!
The curiosity grew, and finally, I heard the album when it had been streamed on NPR (a website I hate). I listened to the album twice, and it became my first favorite album of 2014. New Wave was a decent album. White Crosses was an average group of songs, as well, but I won’t go out of my way to get it. Transgender Dysphoria Blues, however, is a throw back to, in my opinion, the crown jewel in the Against Me! catalog – Searching For A Former Clarity. Oh, and while we’re talking about Against Me!, I’d like to point out that this review of their album, in which the reviewer thinks that this album is punk rock’s Chinese Democracy (referring to the extremely long-awaited album by Guns N’ Roses), is a ridiculous comparison.
I highly recommend both of these albums. Their refreshing, raw, yet carefully crafted, and, most of all, honest art.