T. Cole Rachel
Since coming out as transgender in 2012, Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace has been living in a kind of whirlwind, having not only spent the past two years navigating her new identity under the watchful gaze of the public, but also touring nonstop in support of one of the year’s best albums Transgender Dysphoria Blues, AND — if that weren’t enough — filming a web series, True Trans, that explores Grace’s own personal journey and helps illuminate the transgender experience. While all of this might be enough to leave most people feeling physically and emotionally exhausted, Grace seems to have happily taken it all in stride. I called her up to chat about the highs and lows of 2014, the making of True Trans, and what people can expect next from her band.
It’s weird to think about the fact that Death Cab For Cutie have now been a band for nearly two decades. For those of us who came of age alongside the band’s music, revisiting Death Cab’s back catalog — currently seven albums deep — can be something akin to re-reading old diary entries: deeply personal, wistfully sentimental, and generally indicative of who and where we were at the time. Death Cab’s last studio album, 2011′s somewhat divisive Codes And Keys, seemed to show the band at a kind of impasse. While it certainly wasn’t a terrible album, it also didn’t seem like a band pushing forward. Instead, it was the sound of a band treading water, resting heavily on their own well-worn, sweetly melodic laurels. Next year, Death Cab will release their as-yet-untitled eighth studio album, their first since the departure of band member (and longtime producer) Chris Walla. Despite the amicable split — an event that has caused longtime Death Cab fans no small amount of distress — the remaining members of Death Cab seem to have embraced the change as a much-needed shot in the arm and the kind of healthy shakeup that they didn’t even realize they needed.
Iceage are currently trekking across the United States (and a bit of Canada) in support of their excellent new album, Plowing Into the Field of Love. The album, the band’s third, shows them moving away from the brutish punk pummel of their first two albums and expanding their sonic palette to include things like mandolins, violas, and discernible lyrics. Even though Plowing isn’t necessarily a feel-good record (or even a pop record, as some have called it), it does feel like a deliberate step forward for the band and a move toward a kind of more accessible songwriting. Tracks like “Abundant Living” and “The Lord’s Favorite” have more in common with old school country music than hardcore, and Iceage’s videos flirt with a kind of ambiguous sexuality and, dare it be said, amorousness that would have been hard to imagine if you’d seen the band play live a couple of years ago. And while there was definitely something to be said for the punishing nature of New Brigade, there’s something equally compelling about frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt stepping out of the shadows and commanding the listener to, “Come here and be gorgeous for me now.”
Some of you were asking about my setlist. This is what I sent Nina and Louise. I included spots for them to insert some new songs.
1 – Get Back
2 – All Hail Me
3 – The Museum of Broken Relationships
4 – Straight
5 – NEW SONG
6 – NEW SONG
7 – Seether
8 – Don’t Make Me Prove It
9 – Shutterbug
10 – Forsythia
11 – Wolf
12 – The Morning Sad
13 – NEW SONG
14 – Fly
15 – Spiderman
16 – It’s Holy
17 – Celebrate You
18 – 25
19 – Shimmer Like A Girl
20 – Volcano Girls
I approve of this cat-oriented artwork. And the song.
With all due respect, I can only WISH that my name was Z. Cole Rachel Smith.
Thanks for your comments.
I generally enjoy that my Stereogum interviews are casual and conversational, but maybe you’re right–I probably could have cut some of our initial chatter. In any case, I hope there was at least something in the interview you enjoyed. I don’t want anyone to feel like their time is being wasted.
I wish. I would love to be able to take credit for writing “How Long Have You Known?”
Yes, total spellcheck malfunction. I could die a thousand deaths for not spotting that, as Icky Mettle truly is one of my favorite albums of all time. SORRY, FOLKS.
Yes, “When The President Talks to God” is a stand-alone single that Bright Eyes released in 2005. I didn’t necessarily mean to imply that it was included on “Wide Awake.”
I stand totally–and accurately–corrected. For some reason The Feelies have always felt like a predecessor to those bands, but clearly that is only a reality in my overcluttered brain. Thanks for setting me straight.