Night Music: Against Me!, “Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart”

I read a story in the NY Times today about this band, which is playing locally tonight or tomorrow or both. I’d never heard of them, but the story represents them as a modern and relatively popular punk band, so it got my curiosity up. Certainly some of the few modern rock bands I like, Fucked Up foremost, really are punky.

So I was just digging around on YouTube and heard some interesting stuff, but I wouldn’t call it punk and I wasn’t digging the style. And I have to admit, this one didn’t catch me at first, but it’s a duet and I liked the woman singing and kept listening. She is Tegan Quin of the duo Tegan and Sara, who are alt-rock favorites in recent years. And as I listened I got caught up in the drumming and the interchange of the vocals, and the somewhat soft guitars stopped bothering me as much.

I may or may not ever play this again, it’s a little slick for my tastes, but it’s worth a listen if only just for the drums. And I’m going to dig further into the Tegan and Sara catalog. There is pleasure there in her voice.

There is also the reason why the Times was writing up Against Me! at this point. It seems that Tom Gabel, the band’s singer when this record, New Wave, (produced by Butch Vig, by the way) was released in 2007, has long had gender dysphoria, and last year started hormone therapy to transition from male to female. At the band’s shows now he presents as a woman, and goes by the name Laura Jane Grace. What’s curious to me is that the Wikipedia entry for this album identifies the lead singer as Laura Jane Grace rather than Tom Gabel. Can that be right?

I don’t care personally, but watching this video and then reading about the dude as Laura Jane Grace seemed confusing.

6 thoughts on “Night Music: Against Me!, “Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart”

  1. A while ago I read some fantastic review of an Against Me! album so I sampled it at the record store and thought “Big deal.” I guess these days if you have tattoos and make faces when you sing that makes you punk. What struck me most here is something Henry Rollins described in his stand-up routine a few posts ago, when the guitarist downstrokes a power chord and it comes out like a pretty “blingggg.” Yuck.

  2. Steve, your negative heart has got me playing the song over and over again, and each time I find the guitars more oomphy. And the story/reason the freaking song exists to be clearer. Isn’t that what matters most. Definitely not a hard core band, but not some pissant Green Day imitator either. My allegiance is starting to move, sonically. Based on this one song.

    But there is more evaluation to be done.

  3. This is a good song, great drive, cool build-up and an actual melody. The only thing that bugs me is the lyrics, the ones I caught anyway – not even the content but the idea of expressing, how you say, ultra-angst with big words. The technique works against itself. Either make them simpler or more incomprehensible, or make the angst so specific it can’t be denied. General malaise these days reminds me of my 11 year-old saying “there’s nothing to read or watch around here,” when he’s staring at 1000 books, 500 movies and has Netflix at his fingertips. Am I making sense?

    • I hadn’t paid much attention to the lyrics because I liked the vocals, but listening again got me thinking about the title as well as the lyrics. It seems like the lyrical concept is to make a churning relationship duet out of the banal lyrical cliches of FM radio. And sing them with passion (but make a video that smiles at them). I like that. The guitars are growing on me, too.

  4. I don’t really think this is punk, but, like the Hellacopters tune (which I really liked) there are serious pop elements in this.

    I like the guitars a lot, and Peter is right about the drums (and the guy has a really basic jazz kit it seems, unlike Nigel Olsen).

    But, I liked this too. Not sure if I would go apeshit, but if it was on my shuffle and came on once in a while, i would not skip it.

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