Transgender Dysphoria Blues

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TransgenderAgainst Me!’s sixth studio album is unlike any other in the band’s discography or in the music industry as a whole. Punk music is renowned for tackling key societal issues such as war and politics, but those surrounding the LGBT community are rarely addressed. The album deals with the subject of gender dysphoria following the coming out of Laura Jane Grace, the band’s founding member, as a transgender woman. With a combination of Against Me!’s energy, controversial lyrics and Grace’s poetic depth, Transgender Dysphoria Blues goes where punk music has never gone before.

Blues brims with angst seemingly borne from years of suppressed misogyny and the stress of Grace having to hide her true identity. There is also a sense of catharsis born from being able to hear Grace singing about what has been hidden from public eye for so long and about the tension of living in an androcentric world and a transphobic society.

What is instantly striking about Transgender Dysphoria Blues is the bravery and honesty of the lyrics written by Laura Jane Grace, who was formerly known as Tom Gabel. Her frank lyrics do not even attempt to conceal the unpleasant, violent reality that a transgender person faces; one such example is “You want them to see you / Like they see any other girl / They just see a f*ggot”. However, the listener is given the sense that Grace appears to be enjoying herself more than ever due to this renewed integrity and candour of Against Me!’s music.

The album channels a wide-ranging spectrum of emotions and themes such as frustration, torment and isolation. Opening with a military sounding drum beat, the record’s title track expresses the anxiety of failing to pass in a world where being visibly transgender is deemed as a justification for violence. In ‘Drinking with the Jocks’, Grace then goes on to blast the sexist homophobes and mock the macho culture that he used to wish to associate with. The guitars in this track are fittingly noisy and fiery for Grace’s bold, unapologetic attitude.

The album sets the bar exceptionally high for future rock releases in 2014

Death is also a prominent theme on the record with ‘Dead Friend’ being a tribute to a lost friend, or perhaps a tribute to her former self with regards to her transformation to Laura Jane Grace. The poignant ‘Two Coffins’, apparently written for Grace’s daughter, then hopes that love will live on after death.

Melodically, the record is surprisingly accessible and polished, even to someone who has heard only one or two of the band’s tracks. Against Me! appear to retain their signature upbeat, crisp sound with the album only dropping pace for the hauntingly acoustic ‘Two Coffins’. With an uncharacteristically punk guitar rhythm and one of the record’s standout lyrics – “there’s a brave new world that’s raging inside of me” – ‘F*CKMYLIFE666’ acts as the melodic and emotional peak of the album. ‘Black Me Out’ then ends the record as brazenly as it began, setting the bar exceptionally high for future rock releases in 2014.

Transgender Dysphoria Blues enthrals, educates and gives a voice to a group that many do not know a great deal about. Fans of Against Me! and of music in general are given a glimpse into an artist and into a person’s journey, evolution and strife. In a genre and in an age saturated by male-centric politics, the retention of the message that is almost synonymous with the punk movement of “fuck the haters, be true to who you are” is incredibly hopeful and refreshing.

Similar To: Alkaline Trio, The Get Up Kids

MP3: Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues, True Trans Soul Rebel, Two Coffins

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