Saturday, 19 Jan 2019

Review: Laura Jane Grace launches on an exciting secondary road

Laura Jane Grace and devouring mothers, "Bought to Rot" (Bloodshot Records)

The words just came out of Laura Jane Grace on her new album, a torrent of thoughts, observations and memories of one of rock's most charismatic figures.

The counter against me! The singer and guitarist took a break from her gorgeous punk band to explore more glam-rock ground with the parallel Laura Jane project Grace & the Devouring Mothers.

His lyrics are barely contained by the song structure, bellowed for a moment or extended to sing-talk poetry. One song, "Manic Depression", has 250 words, another 240 and a third 230.

"Bought to Rot" is less heavy than the previous Against Me! offers, with some songs that could easily integrate with traditional radio alt-rock. It's also less angry, more theatrical and more surrealistic. (Many songs are in the vein of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch".) It's a dizzying album, sometimes hysterical, sometimes heartbreaking, but still deeply personal.

It starts with the claustrophobic "China Beach", with Grace apparently upset and confused: "Are you my enemy and are we at war?" She asks. "Are you the hunter? Am I the prey?

Grace, whose life and career changed dramatically when she became a transgender woman in 2012, teamed up in the new group with Against Me! drummer Atom Willard and Against Me! producer Marc Jacob Hudson on bass.

The lyrics of the album range from love to mental illness to the feeling of rootedness: two songs have Grace in hotels and a plane. "Infinite distance, eternal displacement", she sings in "Born in Black".

Windy City fans may want to decline song # 8, titled "I Hate Chicago". It's a tasteless stew of anguish towards the third largest city in America, Grace, complaining about everything that's eaten in her hometown ("Learn how to make a pizza") at the sport (" I hate Cubs, Sox, Blackhawks and Bulls ") to its citizens (" You and all your selfish hipster cloaks can go to hell. ") And frantic and wildly funny.

Other highlights include the Apocalypse Apocalypse Now (& Later), Lou Reed, Amsterdam Hotel Room and Manic Depression, and Screamy Dreamy, a song adjacent to David Bowie. abrasive unpredictability throughout. You can not ask for more if you live outside of Chicago.


Mark Kennedy is at

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