Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Total Treble Records)
As a male singer, Tom Gabel sounded like a cross between Serj Tankian and the guy from Quiet Riot, and that hasn’t changed for now, since he’s barely started the transgendering process. Now that he (well, she, to be neopolitically correct) has officially come out as Laura Jane Grace, she can still wail on any fake-punk band’s singer, even if some all-ages purists were none too pleased that her Florida band was once signed to Sire Records, and furthermore, there are no songs about breaking an ankle on your skateboard or barfing up a gallon of Red Bull, so does any of it count?
Sure it does. The album-opening title track is banshee-screeched testament to why you kids need some rawness in your lives, and “Drinking With the Jocks,” the LP’s first oi-along speed-burner, removes all the “post” from the album’s preceding post-punk, smacking of Black Flag with every whomp. “Two Coffins” is awesome in its acoustic-strumming way, a haunting tangent that reveals there really is a woman underneath all the snotty reveling in expanding the confusion over her confusion. A- — Eric W. Saeger
Aesthetic Perfection, ‘til Death (Metropolis Records)
One-man Los Angeles-based goth-dance act that’s been in business since 2005. Of late, Daniel Graves has kept his ear glued to the subsurface of whatever you want to call it — the “general evil scene,” I suppose, encompassing goth and thrash, which has to be the explanation for his decision to throw in a few lines sung in a gargle-monster voice, obviously meant to accentuate his otherwise ubiquitous baritone croon, a mix of Depeche Mode and bored-eurotrasher-trying-to-play-3DS-in-peace. Juxtaposed with these genre contrivances is out-and-out boyband fluff, often sung in clipped hormonal emoticons, such as on “Lights Out (Ready to Go),” a tune that’d be utterly disposable if it weren’t so annoyingly here-and-now, with its wormy techno beat and lyrics that would get Wham’s seal of approval. Same goes for “Death Rattle,” an evocation of Backstreet Boys dressed for Halloween, decorated with some chick warbling a few Britney/Ke$ha oh-oh-ohs and more of Graves’s own gargle-monster nonsense. Before I forget, no, nothing’s particularly catchy here, but there’s arguably some non-bad stuff, even if One Direction could probably squash the whole thing with one lawsuit. A- — Eric W. Saeger