Against Me! - Shape Shift With Me

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:7 Release Date:2016-09-23

Sure, Against Me! has a back story that is fascinating, but like all such things, the bottom line is how good the music truly sounds. For the uninitiated, the Florida-based band, making music for fifteen years, is fronted by recently transgendered singer/songwriter Laura Jane Grace. Those looking for fragile introspection coupled with coffeehouse strumming are searching in vain. Against Me! is a kick-ass alterna-rock outfit that do their confessionals and soul-searching with plenty of head-banging glory.

Grace shouts, “All the devils that you don’t know can all come along for the ride” on the chorus to “333,” one of the album’s stronger numbers (and for which there is a great retro-video available). “ProVision L-3” rides a rap-punk vibe out of the gate and straight into the superb “12:03,” a song that should be receiving mass audience dispersal because it’s one of several on this album that have the right blend of pounding drums, polished guitars, and incendiary lyrical genius to be a hit.

Twelve songs that take up less than forty minutes means you’ve got a compact package of angst delivered with the glam sensibilities of biting humor and cock-rock essentials. Grace roars, “Shout of rage for all dead rats; I like the dark clouds the best” on “Dead Rats,” a song that seems aimed at all the haters and hypocrites. In a brief moment of quiet amidst the raging on “Norse Truth,” she states simply and almost painfully, “Please, please, please…say that you love me” before returning to the fray. Relationship issues rarely sound so satisfyingly rage-filled as they do here. This is the break-up soundtrack for those who want refuse to go quietly.

Against Me! and moreover, Laura Jane Grace have had the advantage of press coverage (and even her own tv show) due in some measure to the uniqueness of their circumstances. What this means is that we can watch her journey and experience it musically as she walks this difficult path, a double bonus as it were. The band has honed their sound over the years to a fine edge; and it’s a solid incorporation of what often elevates a band from marginal to mass audience. Here’s hoping that this band, one that couldn’t be more tailor-made to our times if this were a Hollywood movie treatment, continues to grow their audience, all the better to get Grace’s brutally honest messages out there, and just as importantly perhaps for some, to hear some good music in the process.

 

 

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