Tom Gabel- Heart Burns

Tom Gabel

Heart Burns

Sire Records

Rating: 4/5




Many, many months ago some live videos of Tom Gabel leaked onto the internet. It was an entire set of new, solo material that he performed at Emo’s in Austin and man was it great. Despite the less than stellar sound quality, the songs sounded great. They were raw, intense and aggressive – a throw back to Against Me!‘s Reinventing Axl Rose years; and they got people excited. Then, in September Gabel was added to a highly anticipated solo tour of Chuck Ragan, Tim Barry and Ben Nichols which was soon followed by an announcement that he was in the studio recording those songs. A few days later the date was set, Heart Burns would see the light of day in less than a month and with each passing week Gabel released a new video with a new song from the EP online.

But despite all of that excitement, Heart Burns still came as a surprise and it didn’t sound remotely similar to what I was expecting. You see, the studio versions of the songs aren’t nearly as raw or stripped down as either the live videos at Emo’s or the live videos that Gabel released to promote the EP. Instead, all seven songs contain a lot more padding and additional little tweaks which is sometimes great and sometimes disappointing.

The biggest disappointment is definitely Anna Is A Stool Pigeon. The song was one of the highlights of the live clips because of its raw ferocity. Gabel unrelentlessly attacked an undercover FBI agent and successfully got the listener riled up. It was an angry protest song depicting a love story gone wrong amidst a thriving political back story. On Heart BurnsAnna Is A Stool Pigeon seems to be lacking some of that anger and doesn’t piss off the listener. The addition of the harmonica by Chuck Ragan is a nice touch but the song feels a little too polished and upbeat. It has a stronger pop tendency than it should have and while it still remains a solid song, it lacks something that was present in those live videos. Another shocking change comes from the opening seconds of the EP on Random Hearts. It starts off with some loops and beats which would fit better within a Blaqk Audio or Heavens release than something from the Against Me! front man. Luckily his vocals are able to save the song but it still remains a slightly off putting opener.

But sometimes those extra few elements are able to really propel the song forward and make them stronger than they would be by themselves. Take Conceptual Paths who doesn’t use Gabel‘s guitar as the backbone but instead a bass drum kick that was absent in the live videos. On Harsh Realms it is the production quality that shines through as Gabel‘s vocals are delivered through a reverb microphone and with an echo style. Its an extremely simple song and the vocal delivery helps to emphasize that. 100 Years Of War, on the other hand, goes in the completely opposite direction. It starts off like Conceptual Pathswith a bass kick drive and angry acoustic guitar riffs but soon expands with some perfectly placed background vocals from the Eagle Rock Choir. It transforms the song from a sparse simple one into a much bigger and uniting song and works surprisingly well.

Overall though, Gabel has released an EP that you may not have expected to hear but works really well nonetheless. There’s only two things that could have made this record better and that is if Anna Is A Stool Pigeon wasn’t as polished as it is on here and if he had released I Can’t See You but I Know You’re There. That was by far the best song from the Emo’s set list and is leaves a big void on the EP. Other than that though, fans of Against me! – both old and new – will thoroughly enjoy it.


Against Me!’s Tom Gabel To Become A Woman

Tom Gabel

In the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Tom Gabel of Against Me! has come out as transgender and revealed plans to begin the process of becoming a woman.  The article, which is previewed here, states that Gabel has been privately dealing with gender dysphoria for years and will soon begin the process via hormone and electrolysis treatments. He will remain married to his wife Heather, of which she has a two-year old daughter with, and he plans to take the name Laura Jane Grace.

According to Rolling Stone, this is the first time a major rock star has come out openly as transgender. Gabel reflected on the impact of the announcement saying:

“I’m going to have embarrassing moments, and that won’t be fun. But that’s part of what talking to you is about – is hoping people will understand, and hoping they’ll be fairly kind.” 

The full story on Gabel’s transformation will be in the June issue of Rolling Stone available Friday, May 11th.

Video: Tom Gabel – Black Me Out

Tom GabelAgainst Me! frontman Tom Gabel recently stopped by Ryan Russel’s Nervous Energies to perform an acoustic rendition of a new song entitled Black Me Out.

The video can be seen below.

Gabel is currently on the road as part of the Revival Tour while Against Me! recently began work on a new album.

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Tour: The Revival Tour Coming to the U.S. and Canada, Spring 2012

Chuck RaganThe Revival Tour has announced a string of U.S. and Canadian tour dates for the spring of 2012.  The tour, a collaborative event between musicians, was first started back in 2008 as the brainchild of Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan.  Of the tour Ragan has said:

“There’s no hierarchy; it’s about sharing music together and bringing it to people in an extremely honest and grassroots fashion. It’s apparent that simple songs of folk music has been rising in popularity and it’s a joy to bring known artists that people already love but very important to us to expose lesser known artists to the world who play exemplary music and live by ethics we admire whether they’re solo musicians, groups or a singer of a band.”

Now in its 5th year, The Revival Tour will kick off March 20th in Dallas, TX featuring Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio/Emergency Room), Cory Branan, Tommy Gabel (Against Me!), and Nathaniel Rateliff.

Tickets are on sale here starting today, and offer four separate pre-sale packages for fans.

For a full listing of dates, please see below.

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Cheap Girls Sign to Rise Records

Cheap GirlsLansing, MI’s Cheap Girls have signed to Rise Records.

As previously reported, the 3-piece will hit the studio with Tom Gabel (Against Me!) in which he will record and produce the band.  Their new LP is expected to hit stores in Spring 2012. You can hear a demo song, Cored to Empty, below.

You’ll be able to catch them live at Riotfest in Chicago and then at The Fest in Gainesville this October.

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Tom Gabel To Produce Cheap Girls Album

Cheap GirlsMichigan rockers, Cheap Girls, have announced plans to return to the studio to work on their third full-length album and have asked the pervasive Tom Gabel (Against Me!) to take on the roll of producer.  Here’s what Cheap Girls had to say:

“First, let’s talk about the last few months. We’ve had a few weeks off from touring and we’ve been using it to write, learn, and tune-up a large chunk of the songs that’ll make up our 3rd record. We’ve got about 13 so far and we’re continuing to add to that. This time around, our friend Tom Gabel has been helping out with the process and we couldn’t be happier with what we have so far. We became good friends back in the winter when we toured with his band Against Me! and we realized he’d be a great fit to fill the Producer role.”

Before heading back into the studio, Cheap Girls will be touring with Bomb The Music Industry! along the east coast followed by a string of dates through Europe in company with Lemuria.

Cheap Girls last released My Roaring 20’s in 2009 with Paper + Plastick.

Tour dates below.

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Tom Gabel to Interview Steve Ignorant of Crass for Big Cheese Magazine

CrassAgainst Me! frontman, Tom Gabel, announced on his blog that he will be interviewing Steve Ignorant of anarcho-punk band, Crass, for Cheese Magazine.

I just got an email from our UK publicist asking if I want to interview Steve Ignorant from Crass for the magazine Big Cheese. How fucking cool is that!!!!! What questions should I ask him?

Further details for the interview have yet to be released. Tom Gabel’s blog can be found here where in his latest entry he also talks about Terry Jones’ controversial book burning. Being originally from Gainesville, Florida, and a former “teenage anarchist” Tom has some points he would like to get across to his readers.

Against Me! are currently on tour in Canada.

Tom Gabel Teaches How to Play “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”

Against Me!Against Me! frontman, Tom Gabel, was recently on MTV’s “re:Play” talking about his influences and teaching viewers how to play “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” from their latest album, White Crosses.

Against Me! released White Crosses earlier this year on Sire and plan on touring Europe later in the year with Crazy Arm.

The videos can be seen here.

Tom Gabel Teaches How to Play "I Was a Teenage Anarchist"

Against Me!Against Me! frontman, Tom Gabel, was recently on MTV’s “re:Play” talking about his influences and teaching viewers how to play “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” from their latest album, White Crosses.

Against Me! released White Crosses earlier this year on Sire and plan on touring Europe later in the year with Crazy Arm.

The videos can be seen here.

Tom Gabel Performs White Crosses Acoustic and In a Canoe

Tom GabelWhile in Norway for the Øyafestival in Oslo, Norway, Tom Gabel of Against Me! performed an acoustic version of the title track from their latest album,White Crosses in a canoe.

The video can be seen below.

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