On New Year’s Day, Artistic Integrity Records will release its fourth annual covers compilation, and this year it’s a tribute to Against Me!. Featuring 26 bands in total, An Impression of an Original: A Tribute to Against Me!, finds a variety of artists covering songs that span the band’s entire catalog. Proceeds from the compilation will be donated to Gender Is Over, which is a project that AM! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace has supported and worked closely with in the past. We’re premiering the record’s third song below, and it’s from Chicago’s own The Flips. The band chose to cover “Borne On the FM Waves of the Heart,” one of the most prominent tracks from Against Me!’s major label debut, New Wave. Check out the song now and don’t forget to purchase the compilation on January 1st here.
For its inaugural year in Douglas Park, Riot Fest continued to grow and expand, while still retaining its formula of legacy acts mixed with eclectic and emerging artists. Despite the change of location, Riot Fest felt right at home in its new digs, taking advantage of an open layout that made for easy navigation from one stage to another. There was a little rain and a fair amount of mud, but those that weren’t deterred by the elements were treated to a surplus of memorable sets from a genuinely diverse collection of bands. We recapped some of our favorite moments and observations from what was an eventful, action-packed weekend. Written by Jamie Ludwig, (JL) and Bill Denker, (BD). Photos by Katie Hovland.
Total Treble Music – Release Date: 1/21/14
Since frontwoman/guitarist Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel) started Against Me! in 1997, they have transcended their DIY anarcho-punk roots. After leaving Sire Records in late 2010, they started Total Treble Music, home of their sixth album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Grace has undergone much change since coming out as a transgender woman in May 2012, and this album captures much of it. The opening title track, the first of several anthemic battle cries, begins with a shuffling drum intro, reminiscent of the drums that usher in “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong.” With brazen urgency, Grace sings, “You want them to notice/The ragged ends of your summer dress/You want them to see you like they see every other girl/They just see a faggot/They hold their breath not to catch the sick.” It’s difficult to not empathize with Grace as she sings with such anxiousness and ferocity, such as on “Drinking with the Jocks” and the album’s heaviest jam, “Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ.” Fat Mike of NOFX plays bass on “FuckMyLife666,” a surprisingly celebratory anthem. “Two Coffins” is the only acoustic song on the album, which Grace said she wrote for her daughter about mortality “and realizing that all the things in your life are temporary.” While morbid on its surface, that deeper meaning resonates and offers up a loving perspective of timelessness. “Black Me Out” is the proverbial nail in the coffin, closing the album. Emerging from its stripped-down guitar and vocals, Grace channels pure honesty sung with a stinging conviction. “Black me out/I wanna piss on the walls of your house/I wanna chop those brass rings off your fat fuckin’ fingers/As if you were a kingmaker.” Given its subject matter and placement on the album, I’m inferring this song is about Against Me!’s ‘liberation’ from its former major label. While the theme of the album is set to Grace’s transition and adoption of her new openly-transgender life, the album isn’t redundant. These are some of the most melodic, hopeful songs Against Me! has ever produced, with deep-running themes of acceptance, frustration, anger and the gratification of release.
– Jason Duarte
Photos by Katie Hovland
Against Me! is the reluctant savior of punk rock. Their stripped-down, DIY sound is especially refreshing in today’s rehashed musical climate. Drawing from their southern roots, along with a heaping dose of old school punk, these guys make even the most cynical punk feel as though they were a teenager again. Against Me! could very well go down in history as one of punk rock’s most memorable bands. This interview was conducted via telephone with singer/guitarist Tom Gabel. Continue Reading…
Sire – Release Date: 6/8/10
White Crosses is Against Me!’s second major label offering, and by industry standards, this time it’s platinum or bust. Their last album, New Wave, was critically-acclaimed and achieved modest commercial success, but now they need to move at least a million units, as the music bigwigs say, to keep things above water. Whether or not that will happen has yet to be determined, though with a hit single like “I was a Teenage Anarchist”, newfound levels of achievement could likely lie in the band’s future. The song addresses singer/guitarist Tom Gabel’s youth, takes aim at the group’s haters and above all, is a quintessential summertime anthem. It’s tailor-made for full-volume highway sing-along sessions, with its plethora of sunny melodies and an abundance of beefy hooks. Another bright spot is “Because of the Shame”, even if sounds a bit too much like Bruce Springsteen’s “No Surrender”. The song’s driving rhythm is propelled by an array of rousing backing vocals and a tasteful piano accompaniment, both of which would surely make The Boss proud. Another positive is “Rapid Decompression”, as it harkens back to the band’s punk rock roots, romps along with snarled hostility and clocks-in at less than two minutes. Sadly, the remaining tracks don’t fare so well. Musically speaking, most of them stray too far from what the group’s known for, (and adept at) while from a lyrical stance, many of the entries seem uninspired. Also disappointing is the fact that the addition of drummer extraordinaire George Rebelo, (Hot Water Music) goes virtually unnoticed, as his playing seems stifled and predictable. In the end, this is by no means Against Me!’s best record. There are certainly a couple of great songs present, but unfortunately they’re outweighed by the ones that lie beyond the band’s comfort zone. Trying new ideas is never a bad formula, but sometimes when you lean too far on a limb the branch snaps, and such is the case with White Crosses.