Florida's Against Me, led by vocalist and guitarist Tom Gabel, specialize in punk-folk of the
Billy Bragg tradition, via alt-country,
the Dropkick Murphys
and southern blues-rock.
Following the EP Crime as Forgiven (2003), that contained the powerful
I Still Love You Julie and Walking is Still Honest,
the album Reinventing Axl Rose (No Idea, 2002) announced a
screaming bard, whose philosophy of life was expressed by
the desperate Pints Of Guinness,
the anthemic Those Anarcho Punks are Mysterious ("we rock because its us against them"),
the catchy Reinventing Axl Rose,
and We Laugh at Danger.
Following the horns-tinged single The Disco Before the Breakdown (2003),
the 26-minute album As the Eternal Cowboy (Fat Wreck, 2003) showed
a more mature outfit, recalling the Clash
as it shifted from T.S.R. ("this shit rules") to
the political sermon Mutiny On The Electronic Bay,
from the driving Slurring The Rhythms, to
the reggae Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists,
even imploding into the acoustic ballad Sink Florida Sink.
Searching for a Former Clarity (Fat Wreck, 2005) was musically even
more professional, with longer songs and progressive arrangements.
The political rant From Her Lips To God's Ears harked back to their
roots, but the
dance-punk number Unprotected Sex With Multiple Partners and
the reggae-infected Justin slowed down the proceedings while
deepening the context.
On the confessional front, How Low is the successor to Sink Florida Sink.
New Wave (2007), produced by Butch Vig, crowned them as the
for the emo era: anthemically populist rock'n'roll (only mildly punkish)
that speaks to the masses of frustrated kids
(White People For Peace).
Their musical progression peaked with White Crosses (Sire, 2010), whose
songs were uniformly catchy and elegant, starting with the power-ballad
We're Breaking Up.
Their new grandiose U2-style pop style is responsible for White Crosses
and I Was a Teenage Anarchist, but the only moments that are truly
rousing are Spanish Moss and Rapid Decompression.
Against Me's frontman Tom James Gabel publicly revealed to have become
frontwoman Laura Jane Grace
on Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Total Treble, 2014), their best album
since Searching for a Former Clarity.
Some songs are wrapped in existential angst (True Trans Soul Rebel ),
some unleash pub-rock anger (Drinking With the Jocks),
some are proud military-like declarations (Unconditional Love),
and some are generic power-pop (FuckMyLife666 which is basically just accelerated jangling folk-rock). The mix is both entertaining and inspirational.
The standout is probably Transgender Dysphoria Blues which is
exuberant and rowdy the way Sweet's Ballroom Blitz was but, clearly,
with a much more personal message.
The oddest song (and title) is Osama Bin Ladin as the Crucified Christ,
which is old-school punk-rock crossed with a bit of
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