Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Albums you should be listening to, and why - Transgender Dysphoria Blues

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The great thing about the start of a new blog is that you can try a shit-ton of ideas for series and see what sticks. The latest brainwave (More like 'splash' given the level of my intellect) is to try and throw a few lesser-known albums into the open and give them the attention they deserve. So here we are with Against Me!'s Transgender Dysphoria Blues released in 2014. Now why does it deserve significant recognition? Well for one, it's one hell of a punk album - I'm talking 'middle fingers up, screaming at the sky, fuck you I'm a dinosaur!' kind of anger that only punk can inspire.. But primarily because of this woman here

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The main talking point of course with this album is, if you've put two and two together by now, Laura Jane Grace's decision to come out as Transgender in 2012. This album marks her first release following her transition, and it shows in the first lines of lyrics right from the off in the albums namesake opening song - "Your tells are so obvious, shoulders too broad for a girl" following Dropkick Murphy-esque drum rolls to start us off, detailing the stigma Laura suffered during the beginning of her transition "You've got no cunt in your strut, You've got no hips to shake. And you know it's obvious, but we can't choose how we're made".

Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem publicly came out and supported Laura's decision, and it almost seems to have inspired her to write the riff and melody in "True Trans Soul Rebel" echoing the anthemic choruses Fallon's New Jersey natives are known for, before heading into "Unconditional Love" and "Drinking With the Jocks" - the latter of which seems to document Laura's dysphoria whilst living as a man, in a way only punk can encapsulate - "I'm drinking with the jocks, I'm laughing at the faggots. Just like one of the boys, swinging my dick in my hand

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"Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ" takes a more groove-orientated lead that makes it impossible not to bounce your head to, and once "Fuckmylife666" kicks in this album absolutely has me hooked, while Laura describes growing apart from her now ex-wife with brilliant simplicity. "Dead Friend" is led by a heavy bass line that you can't help but notice and enjoy and is one of the hidden gems of the album. "Two Coffins" takes an acoustic tone on the attachment to Laura's old life and her own mortality and that sombre tone is echoed in the following song "Paralytic States" about the perils Laura could've faced had she not came to terms with her Dysphoria.

But don't fret - because the final song, "Black Me Out" leaves you feeling you with a sense of self-empowerment and a general 'FUCK YOU!' to anyone using authority as a tool of oppresion, leaving me to think about the strength needed to come out as the person you truly are. I cannot speak highly enough of this album and hope you give it a listen. At only 30 minutes long this album will arrive, kick your arse and leave, and I'm more than okay with that - because while Against Me! are not one of my favourite bands, I'd happily recommend this album to any fan of punk music, because at the end of the day it takes a lot of balls to admit you're transgender. (Oh pun very much intended. Didn't think I'd leave without a crude joke did you?)

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