Thursday, January 23, 2014

Transgender Dysphoria Blues

There will probably be a lot of reviews of Against Me's new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

Ryan Russell - Inge Johansson, Laura Jane Grace, Atom Willard
and James Bowman of Against Me!.
The link is to the Washington Post review, excerpted here:

Against Me! tells an intensely personal story on ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’

In 2012, Tom Gabel, frontman of the long-running punk outfit Against Me!, came out as transgender to Rolling Stone. The Florida band’s new album, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” is its first since Gabel, now Laura Jane Grace, announced her intention to transition. (Its title refers to the official term for Grace’s condition.) It is a lacerating, powerful work that is universal in its sweep and wrenching in its detail.

In the broadest sense, the album wrestles with topics that are the bedrock of punk songs everywhere — alienation, self-loathing, a longing for acceptance and love — interwoven with pointed, and occasionally clunky, political commentary. On a micro level, it’s a dark and very specific recounting of a very specific kind of misery. Frequently profane, defiantly clinical, fraught with sadness and relief, it’s the sound of a dam breaking. “You’ve got no hips to shake / And you know it’s obvious,” Grace sings on the opening title track. “But we can’t choose how we’re made.”

In retrospect, no one should have been surprised. Gabel had hinted for years at a roiling, fundamental internal dissatisfaction. The 2007 track “The Ocean” (“If I could have chosen / I would have been born a woman / My mother once told me she would have named me Laura”) laid that struggle bare for those who were paying attention. 

Until the 2012 announcement, Against Me! was a well-liked, top-of-the-middle-tier punk band that survived a brief flirtation with major-label stardom. Grace is now almost certainly the highest-profile musician to transition, and her new album is part manifesto, part open letter to fans, her wife (to whom she plans to stay married) and her remaining bandmates (two members left after Grace’s announcement, for possibly unrelated reasons).

Read the rest here.

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