Against Me! gained traction in the underground punk scene in the early 2000s with their earlier albums before their fourth full-length, New Wave, took them into the public eye.
New Wave saw their first-ever charting single with the banger “Thrash Unreal,” which ended up reaching No. 11 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and throwing the punk act into the spotlight, but the band would reach even more mainstream success on their next record.
On Jan. 21, 2014, just two years after lead singer Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in an interview with Rolling Stone, Against Me! released their sixth album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, their most important and greatest full-length to date.
In celebration of the phenomenal album turning 6, we’ve listed 10 reasons why Transgender Dysphoria Blues is Against Me!’s best record.
1. It contains their most important subject matter of all time
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My album of the decade ❤️ More than just a record, this has helped so many people, including myself, to have a voice, courage and strength to become their true selves and live life to the full ❤️ thank you for everything @laurajanegrace ❤️ #laurajanegrace #againstme #transgenderdysphoriablues #transpunks #transpunk #transpunksuk
With its controversial subject matter and brutally honest lyrics from Grace about her own personal experiences, Transgender Dysphoria Blues is the most important albums ever released in their catalog. Grace has gone on to become a powerful advocate for transgender awareness in music, novels (her 2016 memoir Tranny: Confessions Of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout), web series (AOL’s True Trans With Laura Jane Grace) and life in general.
2. It was released on their own label, Total Treble
— Total Treble (@totaltreble) March 19, 2014
Most musicians dream of being able to have complete creative control of their work, and that’s exactly what Against Me! accomplished when they started the label in 2011. Following White Crosses and TDB, Total Treble has put out the band’s incredible live album, 23 Live Sex Acts, and 2016’s Shape Shift With Me.
3. It received mainstream success, rightfully
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▫️ 🗣️ I don't ever want to talk that way again I don't want to know people like that anymore As if there was an obligation As if I owed you something Black me out I want to piss on the walls of your house I want to chop those brass rings off your fat fucking fingers As if you were a kingmaker Black me out 🎶 ▫️ 🖕 ▫️ 👨👩👦👦 | Against Me! 💿 | Transgender Dysphoria Blues 📆 | 2014 🗾 | 🇺🇸 🔁 | Blue vinyl ▫️ #againstme #transgenderdysphoriablues #laurajanegrace #punkrock #punk #folkpunk #anarchy #blackmeout #florida #vinyl #vinylrecords #vinyloftheday #vinylcollection #vinylcollectionpost #instavinyl #vinylporn #record #recordcollection #nowspinning #music #musiclovers #rocknroll #rockandroll #vinylgram #vinylcommunity #vinyladdict #vinylfox
Transgender Dysphoria Blues is the highest-ranking Against Me! album on the Billboard 200, debuting at No. 23 (with New Wave hitting No. 57 and White Crosses reaching No. 34 to give you an idea of the difference). Additionally, TDB landed the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Independent Albums chart.
4. NOFX’s Fat Mike can be heard on two tracks
5. It has their best introduction track to date
Arguably the best introduction track the band have ever done, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” blends the guitar riffs perfectly with the drums before Grace’s signature vocals stab you in the chest with her hauntingly honest lyrics.
6. It contemplates a higher power’s love and acceptance
The dark track “True Trans Soul Rebel” reflects on whether or not a higher power will accept her as transsexual as Grace becomes less closeted about wearing women’s clothing but still not confident enough to let anyone she knows see her. Does God bless your transsexual heart?
7. It shows what it’s like trying to fit in as a young LGBTQ+ person
“Drinking With The Jocks” sees a young, pretransition Grace attempting to fit in with locker room talk.” This track gives an insight that anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider can relate to, as Grace makes comments that she wouldn’t normally say but is forced to so she can fit in with bullies and avoid anyone questioning why she would feel any different.
8. The album still provides a political edge that’s echoed throughout their catalog
The opening guitar riff from “Osama Bin Laden As The Crucified Christ” pulls you in from the very beginning and only gets better as Grace chimes in with other religious- and government-filled comparisons, such as “You’re gonna hang like Benito from the Esso rafters/Hang like Clara with her skull caved in/Hang like a cross around my neck/You’re gonna hang, you’re gonna hang.”
9. It includes the most important track from their most important album
“Paralytic States” is the most important track on this record as it dives headfirst into how Grace attempted to escape her dysphoria only for it to fester. The song tells the story of the many nights Grace spent in hotels to escape the outside world so she could have privacy to live her true life: “Night time at the hotel/There was fighting in the hall/Thin chain lock to keep the world out/She held her breath till it was gone/Standing naked in front of that hotel bathroom mirror/In her dysphoria’s reflection, she still saw her mother’s son.”
10. “Black Me Out” is the best fuck you song
“Black Me Out” is the best “fuck you” songs to date, with a haunting intro to match: “Black me out/I want to piss on the walls of your house/I want to chop those brass rings off/Your fat fucking fingers/As if you were a king-maker/As if, as if, as if/Black me out.”
What’s your favorite Against Me! record? Let us know in the comments below!