AGAINST ME! – TRANSGENDER DYSPHORIA BLUES

 

TDB

Merriam-Webster defines ‘punk rock’ as follows: “rock music marked by extreme and often deliberately offensive expressions of alienation and social discontent”.

It’s hard to get any more punk rock than Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Whether you know the story of Laura Jane Grace or not (you can learn more about it here), the circumstances that brought about the album could only make it interesting; it takes something else entirely to make the album good. I’m going to spoil it for you now: this album is Essential Listening.

The album starts off hard and fast with the title track. “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” is awash in lyrics that are gutwrenching because they come from a perspective you are not used to hearing.

“Your tells are so obvious, shoulders too broad for a girl”

“You want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress/You want them to see you like they see every other girl” 

And what may be my favorite line of the whole album for its blatant nature and unapologetic confrontation:

“You’ve got no cunt in your strut/You’ve got no ass to shake”

I could go through track by track and line by line, breaking down to you the voice that Grace has finally found. Although it may sound sonically similar to Against Me!’s vast catalog, there is something new and beautiful and painful about the point of view being shared. It’s almost a guarantee that no matter how alienated or put-upon you’ve felt, it’s never been as bad as being a woman trapped in a man’s body in a very masculine and male-dominated industry (and sub-genre of that industry). “True Trans Soul Rebel”, the second track, seems stitched together between her own story and others she’s witnessed. “Paralytic States” feels the same, songs about different methods of trying to escape the past that never seem to work out.

The songs are short and mostly melodic; by the first few seconds of each I am ready to start singing along to the chorus. The sound is a natural evolution for Against Me!; this is a band that sounds better with every album. Some of the louder tracks (“Drinking with the Jocks”, “Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ”) aren’t my particular cup of tea, but I’m sure there are plenty of fans who will welcome the raucous guitars and screamed vocals.

The last track of the album is undoubtedly my favorite. I was lucky enough to see Laura Jane Grace on the Revival Tour, about two weeks before she came out and told us she no longer wanted to be referred to as Tom Gabel. When she played “Black Me Out” I was floored at the passion and venom present in the song and the performance. This indictment of the music industry and the petty despots who clutch at power is easily translatable to whatever petty despots we find present in our own lives: “As if you were a kingmaker/As if, as if, as if”.

That sentiment sums up “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” for me. The emotions, the pain, the longing, the self-consciousness, the self-confidence, and the love are all things that I understand and identify with immediately, even if I haven’t gone through the same things that Grace has.

If you find yourself uncomfortable with the subject matter don’t be ashamed. Only be ashamed if you aren’t human enough to listen to this album and give it, and Laura Jane Grace, a chance.

You can get a copy of Transgender Dysphoria Blues on vinyl and CD here, or digitally via iTunes and Amazon.



THE ROCK REPORT: CHUCK RAGAN, THE TAKERS & GREENLAND IS MELTING @ THE ATLANTIC, GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA


Believe it or not, this was my first ever Chuck Ragan show. I mean. I’ve seen him a few times on the Revival Tours but I’d never simply seen a Chuck Ragan show. When I saw he was pulling a two night stand in Gainesville last weekend I immediately noticed the Saturday night line up and I knew I needed to be there. So the wife and I made the snap decision to make the 2 1/2 road trip up to the land the Tebow built.

We arrived about two hours before the venue’s doors opened so we checked into our hotel before strolling out to find some food and liquor. This was my first time in downtown Gainesville that I can recall and I have to admit, it was kind of cute. I miss the brick streets of my hometown and downtown Gatorville was flush with those. After a quick meal complete with a couple of Hurricanes we headed down to The Atlantic to make sure we didn’t miss anyone.

My initial impression of The Atlantic was that it should be in Austin. It so reminds me of a Mexican restaurant that closes the kitchen during SxSW, takes out all the tables and becomes a music venue for the week.


Greenland Is Melting took the stage first and commenced to just kill it. I like these guys more and more each time I see them. This time around the band had a fella sitting in on electric guitar which really added a nice element to their sound. Jon Gaunt, as would be the case throughout the night, sat in on a few songs with the guys as well. I said it when I first wrote about these guys and I’ll reiterate it now, Greenland Is Melting is, to me, what The Avette Brothers should sound like. Check them out if you get a chance.

Greenland Is Melting – The Kitchen Song
Greenland Is Melting – No More Sorry Songs


I know this might be blasphemous for some to read but it was The Takers playing more so than a Chuck Ragan show that really made me decide this was a show worth driving for and they were up next. In preparation I did the only proper thing one can do before a Takers show, I ordered up a double whiskey ginger and took a spot up front center stage. What followed next was vintage Takers which is to say it was tipsy, loud and awesome. The band opened with a couple of new songs before launching into familiar territory from the album, Taker Easy. This was my second time hearing a few of the new tracks and I gotta say, they’re great. Hopefully the band will manage to get the money together to get them recorded one day. They closed their set with the bar room anthem and crowd favorite, Friends In Bottles.

The Takers – St. John’s Son
The Takers – Friends In Bottles

Hometown hero, Chuck Ragan closed the night out with style. Joined on stage by Gaunt and the rest of his band Chuck ran through songs from all of his solo-releases, Bristle Ridge and even pulled out a Hot Water Music (maybe more, I’m not overly familiar with HWM) all of which were performed in full accompaniment of the Gainesville crowd.

All in all, it was a great night and it felt awesome to get out on the road and put sime effort into attending a show again. Perhaps I’ll start doing it more often.

Chuck Ragan – Rotterdam
Chuck Ragan – Get ‘Em All Home

CHUCK RAGAN – GOLD COUNTRY


To call me a Chuck Ragan fan, you’d pretty much have to stretch the limits of elasticity of the word to it’s breaking point. A couple of years ago, while my friends were buzzing like meth heads about an upcoming Chuck Ragan show, I’d never even heard of the man. Their references to Hot Water Music also fell on deaf ears, as I’d never heard of them either. Then, as the initial Revival Tour was announced, I looked into the album Feast or Famine only to find myself underwhelmed and that’s why I’m as surprised as anyone else to be making the following statement.

I can not find a single fault with Chuck Ragan’s newest effort, Gold Country. Since it’s release, Gold Country has been one of my favorite cds on my iPod, and my attachment to it seems to be growing with every listen. The improvement from Feast or Famine to Gold Country is not something to be glossed over. Feast or Famine, to me, felt like the standard punk frontman putting out his obligatory folk album, as was the rage those days, but Gold Country is something else all together. Gold Country is, at is core, a country album. There are still some punk ethos bubbling through lyrically, but even this is cast in a much more mature light. Now I’m not gonna pretend to know anything about Chuck Ragan, but you can tell he spent some time working on these songs and the result is a instrument-heavy, passionate album that should make everyone (non-fans like myself included) sit up and take notice.

So I guess this bears the question, am I now a Chuck Ragan fan? For now I’ll just say I am a Gold Country fan. It’s a great album, possibly my favorite this year. There something about its passion that keeps pulling me back in and it certainly seems to be standing the test of time and the constant onslaught of new music that my ears endure. I guess that if the growth seen from Feast or Famine to the Austin Lucas collaboration, Bristle Ridge, to Gold Country continues, then the answer, quite simply, will be yes. There will be plenty of time for those conversations in years to come, though. For now, let’s just enjoy the fuck out of this album.

Chuck Ragan – Rotterdam
Chuck Ragan – Get Em All Home
Chuck Ragan – Don’t Say A Word

Chuck Ragan’s Official Site, Chuck Ragan on myspace, Buy Gold Country

PLEASE CONSIDER WHERE I'VE BEEN (AN INTRO TO TIM BARRY):

Stepping out of the legendary punk band Avail and into bare feet and the occasional tour bus Tim Barry has carved his name in the hearts of alt country fans everywhere. From the opening strains of Laurel Street Demos’ Idle Idylist to his presence on the Revival Tour, he is a powerhouse. His songs evoke the kind of emotion that Southerners grasp on a level not available to the rest of the world. From train songs to heartbreaks Tim covers the range. His influences range from punk to vintage country and his songwriting shows it. While I refer to his music as alt country it really transcends the genre. There is an honesty to this music that is rare in any genre. You can listen to a few of these songs and say “Mr. Barry your punk is showing” and not be off the mark and still on others you can hear the haunting melodies of the country greats. I don’t think any music fan won’t find something to like in Tim’s catalog.

I have missed him the last couple of times he has been through Houston and it is much to my dismay. I don’t have a single cool story to tell about this man. In fact I am pretty much a new fan. I had heard his name floating around amongst my musical peers but I had never listened to his solo music. I had been an Avail fan for a long while but for some reason I had skipped Tim’s solo career. Last year I got a copy of the Revival Tour’s stop in Denver and Dog Bumped was the first time I had ever heard Tim Barry. Since then I have procured all of his released music and it’s been in heavy rotation since I first bought Laurel Street Demos last year. Much like most of the other intros I have put up Tim is a Suburban Home Records Artist and that’s, at least around these parts, a mark in his favor. While his solo catalog is small compared to bands like Drag The River there is so much ground covered in the few LPs he has released that it never ceases to amaze. Choosing these tracks was no easy task and I did sit and ponder which tracks to include. I hope that I have done Mr. Barry justice in my choices.

(I did things a little differently on this set of tapes and included the albums in the ID3 tags so there isn’t a track to album list for each tape. You’ll just have to buy them all!)

Tape 1 Track Archive

Tape 2 is two tracks off of each of Avail’s full length albums. Tim’s method of delivery may have changed but these tracks will show you that from his humble punk rock beginnings to his quieter method these days the intensity hasn’t gone anywhere. I couldn’t choose a favorite part of Tim’s career if I tried. Although Pink Houses holds a special place in my heart. I probably listen to more of his solo stuff nowadays but that’s just where I am at. Also I’m old…and GET OFF MY LAWN!

Tape 2 Track Archive

Tim has a new album in the works so be sure to keep your eyes on Suburban Home Records for more details…(Editors Note: Or, you can just keep coming around here…we’ll let you know when it’s released…believe you me.)

Linkage:
Tim Barry’s Website
Tim Barry on Suburban Home
Tim Barry on MySpace

TAMPA/ST. PETE: TO DO ALL NEXT WEEK: GRAYSON CAPPS/CORY BRANAN/JON SNODGRASS/JOEY CAPE/CITRUS CIRCUIT TOUR

You know what they say, “when it rains, it pours”, and such is the case next week with three shows in four days. While I don’t expect anyone else to adhere to such a rigorous schedule I do think you could find something you like in one (or more) of these shows. If you do make it out to any, find me and we’ll tell fish tales over a beer.

WEDNESDAY 6/24 @ THE RITZ: GRAYSON CAPPS

I am so excited about this show. Honestly, I just assumed Grayson Capps would never come to Florida. BUT! Here he is and he’s bringing his full band, The Stumppknocker’s, with him.  If the sound of Southern soul mixed with back-country stomp with a little road-house blues sounds like something that might tickle your fancy, you need to get to The Ritz on Thurday night for this show.

When I last wrote about Grayson I said, “I find myself drawn to the drunks, whores and vagabonds that haunt Grayson’s songs. They’re like old friends you keep up with via letters in the mail, and with a new album comes new updates.” It’ll be nice to finally meet this motley crew of characters in person.

Grayson Capps – Going Back To The Country
Grayson Capps – Ike
Grayson Capps – Mermaid
Grayson Capps – Junior & The Old African Queen

THURSDAY 6/25 @ NEW WORLD BREWERY: CORY BRANAN, JOEY CAPE & JON SNODGRASS

The following night, Joey Cape (Ladwagon/Me First & The Gimmie Gimmies), Jon Snodgrass (Drag The River/Arm Chair Martian) and Cory Branan will be playing New World Brewery. All three of these guys have crossed paths and shared stages at various times in their careers, but this is the first time all three have played together. This tour was engineered by Jon (and booked by the fine folks at AES Presents) and, as I understand, it will mimic The Revival Tour where the artists will all share the stage. Should make for a fun show.

Cory Branan – The Prettiest Waitress in Memphis
Joey Cape – Errands
Jon Snodgrass – Brave With Strangers
Cory Branan & Jon Snodgrass – Wild One (Thin Lizzy Cover)

SATURDAY 6/27 @ NEW WORLD BREWEY: THE CITRUS CIRCUIT TOUR with LAURIS VIDAL, TRUCKSTOP COFFEE, HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL & THE TAKERS

After giving the liver a brief break on Friday, the musical week plans to knock us out with a right hook powered by another all-Florida band lineup brought to us by thxmgmt. This is the second all-Florida band mini-tour thxmgmt has done this month. Like the last, the idea is to get a collection of Florida bands together who can pull within their own markets and put them all on the road together with the “home band” headlining their respective market. This time we’re getting Tampa’s own Have Gun Will Travel, Lauris Vidal (Daytona Beach), Truckstop Coffee (Lake Worth) and the latest Suburban Home Records signee, Gainesville’s own The Takers.

To say this is a must-see show is a complete understatement. Everyone in the Bay Area should know how good HGWT is at this point (and if you don’t then shame on you), and the amount of love ninebullets has shown Truckstop Coffee over the years is still pitifully inadequate. In addition, I’ll finally get to see the *much hyped* honky-tonk outfit The Takers.

This will be one of the best nights of music of the year and it’s all homegrown. In addition, it’s a Saturday night so there’s no reason not to go.

Lauris Vidal – Good Years, Dark Clouds
Truckstop Coffee -Way Down South
Have Gun Will Travel -Blessing And A Curse
The Takers – Taker Easy

NIBBLES AND BITS (chuck ragan, revival tour II, dan auerbach, deep blues festival and more)

Here is some stuff I’ve been sitting on that I’m not gonna be able to make a full post out of but I think might interest some of y’all:

  • This years Deep Blues Festival takes place from July 15 to July 19 in Minneapolis, MN at The Cabooze. A full festival pass costs 100 dollars but currently are offering them at a discount rate of 80 dollars. If that’s something that might interest you then go get ’em.
  • If you live in the Tampa Bay Area and you make music then The Homemade Music Symposium might be something that will be of interest to you. It takes place Saturday, June 13 and Sunday, June 14 in Ybor City and will feature seminars and workshops as well as plenty of live music. As an added caveat, your truly will be sitting in on one of the panels.
  • A song from one of the Black Key’s frontman/guitarist, Dan Auerbach’s earlier bands, The Barnburners has been making the rounds. They’re performing a cover of  Hound Dog Taylor‘s song “Gonna Send You Back To Georgia”. You can listen to it here.
  • From the “oh my god I can’t believe I am getting this lucky” file. While I am up in Minneapolis for the Deep Blues Festival this year none other than Slim Cessna’s Auto Club are also gonna be in town. Going to see them means I am gonna miss some of DBF’s Friday night festivities but actually having a chance to see Slim Cessna’s Auto Club with my own two eyes and not doing it…well, quite simply, that’s just not an option at all. With this new addition I am afraid my head may explode from the awesome at some point that weekend.
  • Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – This Land Is Our Land (redux)