Posted on September 5th, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Ali Van Houten

A bloody, severed penis adorns the cover of Against Me!’s new live album 23 Live Sex Acts. The dismembered unit sits on a plate next to a spoon, waiting for... well, use your imagination. It’s a shock tactic, not unlike the Dead Kennedys infamous Frankenchrist poster that incited an obscenity trial in the ‘80s. However, the Against Me! image is more than a show of brazen defiance—it’s an affirmation of individual freedom. Against Me!’s founder and frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, née Tom Gabel, has very publicly expressed her struggles with gender dysphoria. "I don't give a fuck if I lose my penis,” she said in a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone. It’s a fitting tribute, then, that this album bears a dismembered one. After all, what’s a punk rock album without a little “fuck you”?

This lengthy collection of live cuts was recorded at various stops on last year’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues tour. It features 23 live versions of previously released tracks from Transgender Dysphoria Blues and other albums, including White Crosses and New Wave. Fans will revel in the quirks inherent in the live recordings, such as the bit of stage banter between Grace and the audience that’s included after “New Wave.” The encore on “The Ocean” is brilliant, with the crowd bursting into a chorus of “Sink, Florida, Sink” before the band launches into an all-out rendition. Such inclusions demonstrate the impact of these tunes on a live audience and give a vicarious sense of being at the show, as any good live album should.

The anarchist attitude is present here as it is in other Against Me! releases. Grace has cited classic punk band Crass as a formative influence, and it’s evident both musically and lyrically. “Walking Is Still Honest” audibly evokes Crass, while lyrically bold tracks like "The Ocean" and “Turn Those Clapping Hands Into an Angry Fist” are reminiscent of the antiestablishment sentiments of Crass and other early punk groups. 23 Live Sex Acts applies Against Me!’s historically political attitude to Grace's brave personal transition.

Musically, the album is nothing really new, but the live recordings lend a more personal air to songs about individual struggles, suggesting they don’t have to be lonely tribulations. Many people are going through the same thing as Laura Jane Grace; she is simply one of the faces we see in the media. This collection of songs imbues her very personal struggles with a punk attitude that everyone can relate to, transgender or not. Punk’s not about spikes and patches and combat boots—it’s about sticking to your guns. Laura Jane Grace is out there doing exactly what she was doing before, playing kickass music, except now she’s comfortable in her own skin. She is indeed a true trans soul rebel, and there’s nothing more punk than that.

Track Listing

2. Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
3. Cliché Guevara
4. True Trans Soul Rebel
5. I Was a Teenage Anarchist
6. New Wave
7. Walking Is Still Honest
8. Turn Those Clapping Hands into Angry Balled Fists
9. Transgender Dysphoria Blues
10. Pretty Girls (The Mover)
11. I Still Love You Julie
12. High Pressure Low
13. Don't Lose Touch
14. Miami
15. White Crosses
16. Osama bin Laden as the Crucified Christ
17. How Low
18. Black Me Out
19. Thrash Unreal
20. Unconditional Love
21. The Ocean
22. Sink, Florida, Sink
23. We Laugh at Danger and Break All the Rules

Against Me! 23 Live Sex Acts
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

60 / 100
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