Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Sound of Queer Music, Vol. 7

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

Mister E Machine. In late 2014, these Chicago-based indie rockers released a a 7-song EP entitled Shooting Stars. Rock in Chicago Magazine called it "one of the best acoustic rock albums of the last several years." From the unabashedly personal original material by songwriter/vocalist Manny Capozzi to a cover of Kylie Minogue's Can't Get You Out of My Head, these guys  offer up a captivating blend of acoustic pop rock and harmonies. Check out their website here. Easily one of my favorite discoveries of 2015.

Mister E Machine, left to right: David Ladon (bass),
Perry Simmons (backing vocals), Chuck Harling (drums) & Manny Capozzi (vocals/guitar)
Song & Video: "Rosa Marie." It's an anti-bullying tune in honor of frontman Capozzi's older sister, who stood up for him when he was tormented for being an overweight gay kid. Capozzi says it's not just a song about bullying, it's "a song about gratitude." (Side note: songs about bullying are often bleak and treacly; Mister E Machine successfully takes a far more upbeat, energizing route.) The video, funded by a Kickstarter campaign, features the band and their childhood counterparts tackling a backstory about bullying.

Shamir. On Twitter, 20-year-old Shamir uses this description: "musician, comedian, singer, rapper, twerker, chef, writer, filmmaker, skinny fat ass." His summer 2014 EP, Northtown, prominently featured his distinctive high tenor gliding through experimental electro-funk. People noticed. On the surprise follow-up fall single -- "On the Regular" -- Shamir raps with cheeky exuberance and wit. His debut album Ratchet was released in May. For more about him, consider reading his spring 2015 interview with NPR here.

Shamir (photo by Ruvan)
Song & Video: "On the Regular." With it's cowbell-heavy production and bright synth changes, this is bouncy rap with a decidedly queer attitude. The minimalist-but-colorful video prominently features Shamir, with special guest appearances by a disco ball and a Fisher-Price toy. (There's some explicit language in the lyrics.)

Double Duchess. This San Francisco-based duo consists of Krylon Superstar and davO. What they do is a bracing blend of performance art and electro hop. Krylon feels like the offspring 1970s divas Sylvester and Grace Jones; davO is an innovative producer and vocalist with a vivid imagination and a face that activates my lust. Their latest album, All Eyes On Me, is out now. Check out their website here.

Double Duchess: Krylon Superstar (left) & davO
Song & Video: "Good Girl Freak Out (featuring Future People)." Attitude, camp and an beat. Simply put, it's throbbing dancefloor gold. For the video, the duo surround themselves with some hellacious dancers, crazy good visuals and Kelly Osbourne as a sort of reimagined Jem (of the classic '80s animated Jem and the Holograms).  Note: there's some explicit language in this one.

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