Record Review: Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers - Bought to Rot

Laura Jane Grace, to most people probably best known as the singer/guitarist/frontwoman of Against Me!, goes on a solo trip with "Bought to Rot." Thankfully it's not your average "Punkrocker goes acoustic" thing. It seems more like a sketchbook of songs that are faithful to the spirit of the early AM! stuff.

When Canadian poet and songwriter John K. Samson dealt with his ambiguous feelings for his hometown Winnipeg, many fans only focussed on the catchline "I hate Winnipeg" in the ironically titled song "One Great City!". The song now has an American sibling - but it's the more pissed off older brother. "I Hate Chicago" sets itself apart from the 2003 Weakerthans song with excessive use of swear words. There's a diss of the music from Windy City ("I could give a shit about the Pumpkins, Slint or Wilco") as well as some hate of everyday stuff ("Jesus Christ, could you assholes at least learn how to drive"). It's a song that also stands out in the context of the album, as many of the other titles are dealing with romance and love - but not in a happy go lucky way. The feeling of being torn between two persons ("The Airplane Song") or the hope that it could be so easy ("Apocalypse Now (& Later)") - the lyrics are right from the heart and often you can imagine them being jotted down on a piece of paper somewhere on the run.

Musically speaking, the 14 songs (38 minutes) are kind of a mixed bag. Nothing too heavy going on here, the opener "China Beach" with its raging chorus is the heaviest part. But you can definitely imagine the songs being played to a crowd of fans who will know every word and sing along. Therefore, it won't matter too much if there's distortion or just an old ramshackle guitar.

So what does the album mean for Against Me!? Well, James Bowman (guitar) and Atom Willard (drums) are present on this album (something I always find funny: solo albums with the same musicians as the main band). And as liberating as it may be to put out your very own songs, this doesn't mean the end of Against Me!. "Bought to Rot" is a record for completionists, but not necessarily the best album to start with if you have never heard a piece of music by Laura - which would be very surprising.

"Bought to Rot" by Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers was released on November 9th via Bloodshot Records.