Against Me! became a big proponent for LGBTQ rights after their lead singer, Laura Jane Grace, came out as transgender, beginning the transition to living as a woman. Their sixth studio record Transgender Dysphoria Blues was a massively popular release in early 2014 and prefaced an expansive tour opening for Green Day. Continuing with Shape Shift With Me, the band goes a little more pop-punk than they did on Dysphoria Blues, but the energy and songwriting is still there. I feel like the band really hits their stride in the four tracks from “Boyfriend” to “333.” I might not be the biggest pop-punk fan, as in I’m not a pop-punk fan at all, but I’m excited for this group and I think Laura’s a great voice for the community.
Cymbals Eat Guitars debuted at the end of the 2000’s, back when you could gain a decent following as an indie rock act just for doing the whole Modest Mouse/Pavement/Built to Spill thing. They’ve never really been able to sell however, and with the lead singer reckoning with the death of a friend on their last record LOSE, it was time to see if the band could have their first big breakthrough. Pretty Years is a record of trying to grin and remain optimistic when you know it’s really hard. “We laugh and drink and eat,” he sings on the closer “Shrine,” “but we’re all just wishing you were here.” Like the overly saturated colored haze surrounding the coffin and… vacuum cleaner, it seems as if the band is still trying to clean up all the cobwebs and grief from the loss of a close loved one.