Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Sound of Queer Music, Vol. 2

This is the second in my series of blog entries featuring openly LGBTQ musicians. It's all about the sights and sounds of talented people fucking with the heteronormative cultural bias in some quietly breathtaking and flamboyantly splendid ways.

AB Soto. This visual/performance artist and musician has made quite a splash over the past year, releasing music and a flurry of can't-look-away videos. He appeared at San Francisco's annual Folsom Street Fair in 2012 and the official bio states that he was born in East Los Angeles. What you see in his work is an amalgamation of his Latin roots and a background in professional dancing and fashion design.

AB Soto
His bio also says AB's aim is to show the diversity of the more marginalized members of the gay community and bring them to a wider audience. As if that wasn't a large enough goal, his work challenges mainstream gay culture and norms. Serious stuff. Good thing he has the energetic swagger and cocky sense of humor to pull it off. And here's proof -- the sassy and smashingly art directed video for "Keep it Movin'."

AB Soto's music is available on iTunes. For more videos, check out his YouTube page here.

SSION. Part band, part art project, it's the creation of Cody Critcheloe -- and it's pronounced "shun," as in shunning day jobs and making art for a living. Critcheloe has made music videos for artists like Santigold, Peaches, Gossip, MNDR and the Liars, but SSION has really started to get some well-deserved attention the last couple of years.

Cody Critcheloe, creator of SSION
SSION's sound has been called sultry pop with a disco backbone. And Critcheloe's videos are wildly entertaining, nonsensical blasts of absurdity. Take the video for "Earthquake." Critcheloe describes it as "a coming of age love story between an enigmatic instigator and and alien-brother-lover resulting in the purest form of magik, with a bit of feminism and Las Vegas showmanship thrown in for good measure."  Oh, and it was all filmed in Kansas City.

To check out SSION's website, go here. The music is available on iTunes.

Jonny McGovern. He burst onto the scene in 2000, mixing satire, bawdy comedy and music in his nightclub acts. Albums, music videos and a podcast (Gay Pimpin' with Jonny McGovern) followed. The man has a big personality and a raspy I-smoke-3-packs-of-Marlboros-a-day voice that make for some rollicking good songs and videos.

Here's Jonny McGovern. Just look at the mischief in those eyes.
Here's the music video for "Dickmatized." Which is exactly what you think it's about. So do I really need to warn you that this video is not safe for work? Or for the faint of heart? Or anybody who's easily offended?

McGovern's music and podcast are available on iTunes. You can check out more of his videos -- including "Sexy Nerd" and "Bossy Bottom" -- on his YouTube channel. Just click here. And if you just can't get enough, his website is a lot of fun, too. It's here.

Kele Okereke. He was born in Liverpool to immigrant (and very Catholic) Nigerian parents who kicked him out of the house in 2000 when he told them he was gay. He moved in with friends, got serious about his music and ended up the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of British indie rock band Bloc Party. Okereke came out in several 2010 interviews while promoting a solo album entitled The Boxer. Although he says he was already out and open about his sexuality before the interviews, he finally talked about it publicly because he was tired of having journalists and critics describe him as closeted.

Kele Okereke
Today, Okereke lives in New York but communicates with his family regularly even though they still don't get his homosexuality. In 2012, he told The Advocate, "They weren't into it all, and they are still very Catholic and from a place where there are no visible gay people. They don't quite understand. But they love me, and they understand that I'm happy, and we're finding a way."

Here's the music video for "Everything You Wanted," a great track from The Boxer, his well-reviewed pop-rock album with driving dance beats.

Most of his music, solo and with Bloc Party, can be found on iTunes. Check out his website here.

Drake Jensen. In early 2012, this Nova Scotia-born country singer came out in a big way -- by releasing a music video that featured the man he'd married and dedicating it to a gay Ottawa teen who committed suicide after being bullied. Jensen told the music publication Cash Box Canada, "I'm a homosexual musician telling my story through songs and spreading the message of love. In a perfect world, what could be wrong with that?"

Drake Jensen. Better than anything in Disney's Country Bear Jamboree.
Jensen has an earthy, world-weary voice that's going to remind you of a handful of country stars (Alan Jackson, George Strait and Charley Pride come immediately to mind). He can nail a country ballad. And here's your proof, the single "When It Hurts Like That" from his cleverly titled second album, OUTlaw

Jensen's music is available on iTunes. To check out his website, go here.

Until next time...

Peace out,

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