Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Sound of Queer Music 2014, Vol. 3

In this four-part, end-of-the-year series, I'm featuring sixteen queer artists or bands that fucked with the heteronormative cultural bias in 2014.

Wiz Kilo, one of the queer artists that flourished in 2014 (photo: Tristan Harris)
The first four appear in Volume 1 -- here; Volume 2 is here. These four made the cut for Volume 3...

Wiz Kilo. This singer/songwriter/producer/dancer was born in Syria. His family immigrated to Canada when he was 5 years old. By 18 he was part of a Canadian boy band called 2Much, where he was given the name "Wiz" -- his real name is Wissam. Kilo released a couple of solo EPs, but his first full-length album didn't arrive until 2014. Jungle Disco is an excellent electro/hip hop/R&B recording that he wrote, recorded, engineered and mixed himself. Visit his website here.

Wiz Kilo (photo: Tristan Harris)
Song & Video: "Warmbody." It's a sinuous electro groove about yearning, desire, sex... and the reality that sometimes we just need a warm body. The song itself is actually over 7 minutes (it's available on iTunes and Amazon), but Kilo serves up an abbreviated version for this video, a minimalist affair in which he expertly (and half-nakedly) grooms his beard and buzzes his head. It's  sort of an inexplicably erotic tutorial. Doesn't hurt that Kilo is a cute, sexy fella.

Stereogamous. This Australian duo, DJs Paul McDermott and Jonny Seymour (AKA Paul Mac and Seymour Butz) have remixed or collaborated with a long list of artists -- Kylie Minogue, George Michael, Sia, The Presets and LCD Soundsystem, to name a few. According to their Facebook page, their particular genre of music is "bath house." It's also been described as "music for making out" and "horizontal dance music." I'm especially fond of Jonny Seymour's philosophy: "Age should be no barrier to the pleasures of dance music. The sense of freedom it brings shouldn't be limited to the young." You can find a stream of their mixes and collaborations here.

Left to right: Paul McDermott, Shaun J Wright (a recent collaborator) & Jonny Seymour
Song & Video: "Sweat," featuring Shaun J Wright. The song, a collaboration with Shaun J Wright, is kind of sleazy and provocative. There's some disco-tech erotica up in the house. Uh huh. The video? Shaun J Wright (he doesn't use a period after that middle initial) and a big ole bearded glitterbear will entertain you. They don't call Stereogamous super gay for nothing.

Bright Light Bright Light. That's Welsh, London-based electropop artist Rod Thomas. The Guardian summed up his 2014 album, Life is Easy, like this: "... combines euphoric melodies, lavish electronics and unabashed pop in a way that showcases his songwriting skills." He's not particularly cool, but he's hard to resist.

Bright Light Bright Light, AKA Rod Thomas (photo: Adrian Tuazon McCheyne)
Song & Video: "Everything I Ever Wanted," featuring The Pink Singers. This is a fresh take of a song featured on his Life is Easy album. He re-recorded it with London's longest-running LGBT choir, The Pink Singers, for 2014 World AIDS Day. A percentage of the sales go to The Elton John AIDS Foundation. It was already a great song; the background choir and effusive arrangement give it a spiritual quality. The lovely video is about the simple joys of childhood friendship.

Against Me! This rousing punk band's been around since 1997, fronted by vocalist/guitarist Tom Gabel. Having dealt with gender dysphoria (feeling strongly that you are not the gender you physically appear to be) since childhood, Gabel came out as transgender in 2012, then transitioned to Laura Jane Grace. Against Me! released their first album with Grace as lead singer in January 2014. Entitled Transgender Dysphoria Blues, many critics hailed it as one of the year's best. It kicks ass.

Left to right: Inge Johansson, James Bowman, Laura Jane Grace & Atom Willard
Song & Video: "Black Me Out." It's intense, brutal and vitriolic for sure. Laura Jane Grace sounds like she had a few things to get off her chest when she wrote it. In the chorus, Grace sings, "I want to piss on the walls of your house." Well, come on, haven't we all felt that way a time or two? Stark and straightforward, this is a gritty video that gets the job done. (Note: Some lyrics are not safe for work.)

If you'd care to see an earlier incarnation of Against Me! with Tom Gabel, go here.

Check out Volume 1 in this series here -- it features Magic Mouth, The 2 Bears, Conchita Wurst and Mary Lambert.

Volume 2 is here, featuring Hercules & Love Affair with John Grant, Angel Haze, MRF (Mike Flanagan) and Logan Lynn.

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