Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Sound of Queer Music 2015, Vol. 5

Volume five of my five-part, end-of-year series celebrating artists and bands that fucked with the heteronormative cultural bias in 2015.

The Young Professionals. This Israeli electro pop band fronted by Johnny Goldstein and Ivri Lider released an excellent dance-floor-ready album in 2015, Remixes and Covers. The terrific remixes include gems from a diverse slate of artists --  Lana Del Rey, Imagine Dragons, Tegan and Sara. They even reimagined ABBA's "S.O.S" in an energetically alternative way that really works.

TYP: Ivri Lider (left) & Johnny Goldstein (photo: Facebook) 
Song & Video: "All Of It But Me." This collaboration with Austrian vocalist Anna F is about the moment you start to suspect the person you're with doesn't really care about you -- they're thinking about everything but you. The video is a smorgasbord of cool visuals.

Villagers. Sounds like a band name, but it's really Dublin-based singer/songwriter Conor O'Brien. His coming out in 2015 coincided with the release of his third album, Darling Arithmetic, and Ireland's historic marriage equality vote. There's a sweet, tender, mature-beyond-his-age quality about his voice that intensifies the exquisitely intimate folk pop he writes. And don't get me started on those soulful eyes...

Conor O'Brien
Song & Video: "Everything I Am Is Yours." It's a deeply romantic declaration of love, but the video is anything but an amorous affair -- shots of O'Brien alternate with an anonymous young man bearing his soul to strangers. It's a beautifully shot, fascinating and unsettling interpretation of the song. 

Cazwell. I love this NYC-based rapper/songwriter for a couple of reasons: his (often explicit) lyrics shrewdly address current sexual culture, he's a sex pistol, and he has a killer sense of humor.

Cazwell (photo: Facebook)
Song & Video: "The Biscuit." According to the online Urban Dictionary, "biscuit" can be slang for a number of things, like a handgun, someone who is consistently flaky, or booty. I'm pretty sure Cazwell -- collaborating with South African DJ Naaldekoker -- has written an ode to male buttocks here. The video is full of praiseworthy male buttocks and a lot, a lot, of silly Middle-Eastern imagery. Controversial? Politically incorrect? Okay, sure. But take the stick out of your biscuit and it's also sexy and funny.

Tim Carr. I dig the musical idiosyncrasies of this Bay Area singer/songwriter. He got my attention with tracks like "Shake Your Caboose" and "Fame Whore." He can get you on the dance floor or he can just bring a smile to your face. There's a uniquely playful quality to the way he sings a song, but you never get the sense that he doesn't take this music seriously -- he just doesn't take himself too seriously. You can find his music on iTunes or stream it on Soundcloud, here.

Tim Carr (photo: John Nieto)
Song & Video: "Whose Team Are You On?" With this track, Carr obsesses over the mixed signals of a buddy. Well, we've all been there. Here's the official description of the goofy video: Obsession, intrigue, and one creepy peeping janitor. Tim Carr plays a janitor who becomes obsessed with dancers rehearsing while he is cleaning the space around them. Sometimes we'd rather dance than clean toilets. Depending on the shit-uation. 

Stose. He's a Bronx-based queer punk rapper that expertly channeled his anger, anxiety and frustration into a dynamic debut EP, Civil Disobedience. Even MTV noticed: "Stose combines the angry energy of punk rock with social injustice-minded rhymes. With old school hip-hop beats backed by heavy guitars, Stose's sense of style and political awareness make him a force to be reckoned with."  There's a refreshing, unguarded authenticity about this Virginia native; his music is a meaningful wake-up call. You can follow Stose on tumblr. His music is available on iTunes or stream Civil Disobedience and other Stose tracks on Soundcloud, here.

Stose (photo: Jahn Hall)
Song & Video: "Full Blown Panic Attack." According to Stose: "The track is about my personal struggles with becoming more aware, but it is also meant to convey the feelings of helplessness and frustration that many people in my generation, and others, feel on a daily basis." 

Bonus: PRIORY. This Portland-based electro-pop duo consists of Brandon Rush and Kyle Sears.

PRIORY: Kyle Sears (left) & Brandon Rush 
Their excellent four-song EP arrived in late 2014, including a song called "Put 'Em Up" that got released as a single with a video in the summer of 2015. Rush explain what's behind the song: "It's a personal story about watching my brother struggle with being gay in a conservative and religious family. It didn't get any better for him when he joined the military. I'm happy that in the past couple of weeks (referring to the SCOTUS same-sex marriage decision and its aftermath) our country has made a lot of progress in granting the LGBTQ community equality, but we all know we still have a long way to go. When we made the video, we wanted to show regular people doing regular things in an anonymous fashion until they came together in a place of mutual acceptance where everyone had a chance to be free to be whatever they were on the inside or outside."

And here's the gorgeous black and white video for "Put 'Em Up."

Wanna see previous entries in this series? Just follow the the links:

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