Release Date: Nov 9, 2018
Record label: Bloodshot
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Laura Jane Grace is the one constant in Against Me! since its inception in 1997, so it wouldn't necessarily seem like she'd have the need to create a separate solo project. Nevertheless, Bought to Rot -- the 2018 debut of Grace & the Devouring Mothers -- is musically distinct from anything in Against Me!'s extensive catalog, relying heavily on sharp-edged power pop and garagey stomp. Grace credited Tom Petty, a fellow Floridian rocker, as an inspiration for Bought to Rot and it's possible to glimpse hints of his classicist aesthetic beneath Grace's keening vocals and the ramshackle roar of the Devouring Mothers.
Passing in October of last year, the legacy of pop pioneer Tom Petty remains immeasurably. For 'Bought To Rot', the debut full-length from this offshoot project of Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, she cites Tom's own first solo record 'Full Moon Fever' as inspiration. Renowned for his storytelling ability, he looms large across The Devouring Mothers' fourteen tracks.
And skulls certainly would be pitch perfect for an Against Me! record. But BTR isn't that. This is Grace laid bare--as much as AM!'s Transgender Dysphoria Blues, and perhaps more so--with the record acting as a direct line between her and her audience. To that end, BTR doesn't have any of the overt politicking, anarchist teenage posturing (or the subsequent reflection on a fake revolution), or interpersonal demon fighting of AM!.
'Bought to Rot' shows a different side of the Against Me! frontwoman - one that's biting, surreal and occasionally absurd The track 'I Hate Chicago', a "divorce song" cleverly masquerading as a tirade towards her hometown, provides a standout moment on Laura Jane Grace's debut record with new punk group The Devouring Mothers. A spit-and-sawdust alt-rock belter, the song relies on the kind of misdirected anger that tends to gather in emotionally charged places. Instead of hating Chicago itself, Laura Jane Grace actually hates the memories the city holds.
Laura Jane Grace needed a break from her own very public identity. Six years ago, Grace famously announced that the traces of gender dysphoria in many songs by her bracing Florida punk band, Against Me!, had not been fictional muses. For her entire life, she had been uncomfortable in a man's skin and clothes, so she had recently started the transition into the gender identity and body she'd needed for so long.
D esigned like a mixtape - cheeky Britpop brushing against campfire sarcasm and gothy surf - Bought to Rot is more casual than Laura Jane Grace's records with Against Me!, the storied Florida punk band she has fronted for 20 years. She wrote it on the road with drummer Atom Willard and bassist Marc Jacob Hudson, working in a more immediate fashion than usual. The lighter touch might offer anyone deterred by her heavier material a welcoming introduction to this ironclad songwriter.