Transgender Dysphoria Blues – Against Me!

You probably know this band from their transcendent jam “Thrash Unreal”, but when their singer Laura Jane Grace came out as trans in 2012, Against Me! accompanied it with the greatest traditional pop punk album of all time. This concept album hits hard with heavy distortion on bright, major-key guitars and even rougher textures on the vocals, which convey deeply personal experiences and ruminations with an intense roar. This is the sort of album that might change stuff for you, that may move you to tears by bringing up massive amounts of trauma. It’s worth it. I may not be the best judge, but these are universally resonating lyrics that will make you both put yourself in another person’s shoes and think about your own life; I’ve felt the pressure to conform to the childish male ideal of “Drinking With the Jocks”, and I’ve felt the worry about how I’m seen that pervades this album. Every song on this album is backed by the kind guitar work that gets stuck in your head, whether you’re into the Black Sabbath-esque minor riff of “Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ” or the groovy syncopated guitar melodies of “True Trans Soul Rebel”, “Fuckmylife666”, and “Dead Friend”, or perhaps the surprisingly polytonal thrashing of “Drinking With the Jocks”. The standout here is “Paralytic States”, which uses an incredible arpeggiated riff through multiple keys to make the listener profoundly uncomfortable. Laura’s roaring over those beautiful banging cymbals is a formula for success, and you’ve gotta hear the incredible music of the strongest voice in punk.

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