Sunday, December 8, 2013
Song Of The Week: 12/8/13
Song: "Lehigh Acres"
Artist: Against Me!
Album: "White Crosses" (Limited Edition)
"Lehigh Acres" is a song about a community in Florida, located near Fort Myers, where a boom in homes, both being built and bought, occurred in the early 2000's. Eventually, the homes began to lose their property value and most of the people who bought were in over their head. It was basically a middle class community that veered towards poverty in a short amount of time. Though the song is about a specific community, it is a story that is known all too well all over the country. Lenders gave out money much too easily and people acquired debts that they could not afford. Against Me!, hailing from Florida, formed back in 1997. Originally, Against Me! was going to be the platform with which vocalist/guitarist Tom Gabel was going to release his solo material. He first released a demo cassette in 1997. In 1998, he added drummer Kevin Mahon and they released another demo called "Vivida Vis!". In 2000, the band released the "Against Me!" EP through Crasshole Records. 2001 saw the band release the EP "Crime As Forgiven By Against Me!". Released through Plan-It-X Records, this EP was the band's 1st widely distributed material. Against Me! also released an acoustic EP that year as well. In 2002, the band signed with No Idea Records and released their 1st full length album, "Reinventing Axl Rose". The band's line-up finally rounded out as well, featuring Gabel on vocals/guitar, Warren Oakes on drums, James Bowman on guitar and Andrew Seward on bass. 2003 saw the band sign with Fat Wreck Chords and release "The Eternal Cowboy". This album reached #36 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart, thanks in part to the singles "Cavalier Eternal" and "Sink Florida Sink". 2005's "Searching For A Former Clarity" was Against Me!'s first album to chart on the Billboard 200, reaching #114. The songs "Don't Lose Touch" and "From Her Lips To God's Ears (The Energizer)" became the band's first two music videos. In 2006, the band released "Americans Abroad!!!Against Me!!!Live In London!!!", their very first live recording. In 2007, the band was signed to major label Sire Records. They enlisted the help of producer Butch Vig, famously known for producing Nirvana's "Nevermind", and released "New Wave". This album peaked at #57 on the Billboard 200 charts and featured the singles "Thrash Unreal", "White People For Peace", "Stop" and "New Wave". In 2008, Against Me! supported the Foo Fighters on a major North American tour. Sire also released "New Wave B-Sides" as a digital only release. 2009 saw Oakes leave the band and Hot Water Music drummer George Rebelo join. The very same year, Fat Wreck released "The Original Cowboy", an album which featured demos and rare recordings from the "Eternal Cowboy" sessions. In 2010, the band released "White Crosses" with Vig handling the production aspect once again. This album featured the singles "I Was A Teenage Anarchist", "White Crosses" and "High Pressure Low". At #34 on the Billboard 200 charts, "White Crosses" is the highest charting Against Me! album to date. Despite the success of the album, the band and Sire Records parted ways. Drummer Rebelo also left the band to return to his old band Hot Water Music. Jay Weinberg was announced as the new drummer. In 2011, Fat Wreck released "Total Clarity", an album featuring demos and rarities recorded during the "Searching For A Former Clarity" sessions. The band also released the two song 7", "Russian Spies/Occult Enemies". Gabel would also form his own record label at this time called Total Treble Music. All future Against Me! recordings would go through this new label. In 2012, Gabel came out as a transgender saying he's suffered with gender dysphoria since childhood. He changed his name to Laura Jane Grace and began living as a woman. He's stated that this change would not affect his band, however. He, or should I say she now, began working on a concept album that would be titled "Transgender Dysphoria Blues", which would be about a transgendered prostitute. Grace would be producing and engineering this album. In 2013, Weinberg left the band and Adam Willard stepped in on the drumkit. Longtime bassist Andrew Seward also left the band. His spot was filled by former Refused bassist Inge Johansson. The band released the single "True Trans" which featured acoustic versions of two songs that are to appear on their new album, "FuckMyLife666" and "True Trans Soul Rebel". Currently, Against Me! plans to release "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" in early 2014. Though the line-up of Against Me! seems to be a revolving door, the band is very much Gabel/Grace's baby and her vehichle to express her songs. Against Me! is one of those bands that come out and gives me hope that their is still great, guitar driven music out there in a world of bubblegum pop and hip hop. Against Me! is a punk band that stands out for their originality and their their deep catalogue of great music.