Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Sound of Queer Music, Vol. 5

Celebrating artists and bands that fuck with the heteronormative cultural bias...

The Chew Toys. Formed in 2012, they're a California queercore duo who promise to "get you drunk, singing and deaf." Don't know what queercore means? Think homopunk garage rock 'n roll. In late 2014, drummer/vocalist Jay Tag told music website CMJ that he and bandmate Kevin Dickson bonded over "a silly idea to get drunk and write songs about our friends and take the piss out of stuff." Guitarist/vocalist Dickson adds, "However, as a gay dude, if I'm gonna write a song that's sexy, it's gonna be about a guy. We set out to have those same dumb sex songs like Kiss had on Rock & Roll Over, but about guys. It's not a gimmick, it's how I'd write about sex." Oh, and they're married. To each other. Bet you didn't see that coming. They're self-titled debut album was released in late 2014. You can hear the songs on Soundcloud and purchase the album (vinyl or digital) on their website. To read the entire CMJ interview, go here.

The Chew Toys are Kevin Dickson (left) & Jay Tag (photo: Dave Ehrlich)

Song & Video: "Leather Sweater." According these guys, the song "is about being so hot for a guy you want to basically tear him apart." The video is an endearingly low-budget psychedelic kick.

Brett Gleason. He was asked to describe himself in a 2012 interview with PopCultureZ: "I'm a solo artist from Brooklyn -- I play piano, manipulate electronics and take my shirt off." He's also gay and candidly open about being bi-polar. As his official bio suggests, "Gleason knows what it's like to live a life of intensity outside the mainstream and his music reflects this." The sound is raw and intimate with a palpable melancholy, but it's simultaneously vigorous, progressive and unabashedly theatrical. In other words, Gleason's work defies pop conventions and really challenges the listener. His self-produced, self-titled debut album was released mid-2014 and is available on his website or iTunes. (All the amazing lyrics are on his website, too.)

Brett Gleason (photo: Nicolas Smith)

Song & Video. "I Am Not." Gleason describes the song as a kind of mantra: "It started as something I'd repeat to myself when I felt overwhelmed or hopeless -- an assertion that reminded me I've been through worse and have proven stronger than I ever hoped." The video -- his first, filmed with friends in late 2009 -- is an eerie little murder mystery filmed in his grandmother's Connecticut backyard.

Top Less. This promising Canadian band released their debut album in 2013 -- and with a name like Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party it was bound to draw some attention. The sound is a brash amalgam of electro, dance and glam pop; their live shows are vibrant and theatrical, featuring props, costumes, video projections and -- shudder -- glitter. In a 2013 interview with The Lab Magazine, Top Less co-founder Mike Shindler said: "I would say our shows and music are an acknowledgment of the absurdity of many aspects of human life and then lighting the wick and hoping for an explosion." You can check out their website here.

Top Less (photo: Shea Pollard & Ola Cholewa)

Song & Video: "Danger Love." The song is about those early stages of love, when hearts are tender and vulnerable. Building to something almost anthemic, it soars and swirls and becomes unexpectedly exhilarating. For the video, Top Less essentially answers the question: What does an unabashedly theatrical band do in the woods? They become pixies or tree spirits or sprites... or something... and dance (well, it's actually a form of interpretive movement called Eurythmie). Oh, and they summon some kind of Christ-like figure. Honestly, I have no idea what they're doing here, but it's awesome. And so is the song.

Want to check out other volumes in this series? Just click on any link below.

2014 year-end compilations: Volume 1 -- Volume 2 -- Volume 3 -- Volume 4

1 comment:

  1. I really liked this post a lot! The Brett Gleason is interesting, but the Top Less is really great. Thanks for bringing this stuff to my attention.