Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Sound of Queer Music, Vol. 1

This is the first in a series (hopefully) of blog entries featuring openly LGBTQ musicians. 

Lots of musicians have come out after a run of mainstream success -- Elton John, George Michael, k.d. lang, Lesley Gore, Janis Ian, to name a few -- but the artists below have done us all a favor by skipping the coy is he?/is she? interviews and letting the truth set them free to make whatever music they want for whomever wants to listen. It's the sound of talented people fucking with the heteronormative cultural bias in some quietly breathtaking and flamboyantly splendid ways.

The first five...

Conquistador. Los Angeles-based musician Alexander Antebi is a defiantly eccentric guy with a fondness for cat suits, unusual hats and his mustache. In fact, he was the first American, first Jew, as well as the youngest competitor in history to win the title of "World Imperial Moustache Champion" at the World Beard and Mustache Championships, held in Brighton, England in 2007.

Alexander Antebi
His Pinterest page describes him as, "A glitter shaman, gangster of love, and conjurer of sonic spirits from the deserts of Sudan and the gardens of Japan to Milan and Yucatan." And one critic called him the love child of Frank Zappa and Prince. So there's that... and then there's his music. It's been called "fuzzy roller-disco," "glitter soul" and an amalgam of "Zappa-flaired psychedelia and Bowie glam rock." Yeah. And I dig it. Check out the award-winning video for "With A Love Like That."

If you like this single, it's available on iTunes or his website.

Big Dipper. No gay list would be complete without the obligatory bear. Come to think of it, Obligatory Bear sounds like a great name for a band. Anyway, here's husky, hairy Chicago-based Big Dipper, the self-described queer, Jewish, bear-cub rapper.

Big Dipper
Big Dipper is sexy and funny and demented, but also a really good rapper. Now enjoy the manic, tongue-in-cheek, cheerfully vulgar video for the first song he ever wrote, "Drip Drop." This is probably not safe for work, but then again, I don't know where you work, so...

Can't get enough Big Dipper? Click here for his YouTube channel and a couple more equally outrageous videos. You can download his 5-song EP here.

Beth Ditto. She's best known as the lead singer of Gossip, an indie rock band from Washington state. She's an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ and feminist causes, classifies herself as a punk and celebrates her full figure. The phrase, "You go, girl!" was pretty much invented for women like her.

Beth Ditto
After the success of Gossip's 2009 album Music for Men, Ditto released a solo EP in 2011 that featured "I Wrote the Book," a song that I could imagine Madonna recording back in the day.

Ditto's EP is available on iTunes.

Logan Lynn. This minister's son is a singer-songwriter, producer and LGBTQ activist from my favorite city, Portland, Oregon. And also a really sexy ginger dude with bedroom eyes.

Logan Lynn
On his Facebook page, Lynn lists "Sex & Guilt, mostly" as his musical influences. I love that. And to me, he has one of those unpolished, endearing voices that works well with electronic beats. Here's the video for his sweet dance track, "Hologram." It features a generous amount of eye candy. You're welcome.

You can check out Logan Lynn's website here. His music is also available on iTunes.

Matt Alber. This man is one of the sexiest muthafuckers on the planet. There, I said it. The fact that he has a marvelous voice (yes, I said marvelous, goddammit!) is the best kind of icing.

Matt Alber
A former member of Chanticleer, San Francisco's excellent male classical vocal ensemble, Alber got hearts beating a little faster back in 2008 with the release of his first solo album, Hide Nothing, featuring "End of the World," a soulful, aching ballad sung with the kind of raw sincerity that just makes you wanna give the guy a hug. And the video for it is a gorgeous, unabashedly romantic exaltation of love at first sight.

Alber has developed a devoted following, released more original material and covered songs by Everything But the Girl ("Missing"), Fleetwood Mac ("Dreams"), Madonna ("Take a Bow") and even Whitney Houston ("I Wanna Dance With Somebody"). His music is available on iTunes. Click here to visit his YouTube channel.

Until next time...

Peace out,

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Planetary Video Mixtape #3

Another in my series of video mixtape blog entries...

Here's a handful of artists/bands I've happily discovered, but that haven't garnered much attention in the U.S., yet. The set up: I pick five, but only one can originate from the United States. Enjoy!

Slowolf. That's the stage name of producer and singer Andreas Asingh. There's very little info out there about him, but his Twitter and Facebook pages declare that he's "rising from the cold north of Copenhagen."

Slowolf (Andreas Asingh)

I fell in love with the first single I heard, "Dance Floor," a successful mix of metal, hip hop and dream pop that features iconic rapper Raekwon. Killer hook, terrific video.

Disclosure. These south London brothers started out making music in their bedrooms a few years ago.

Disclosure -- Howard (left) and Guy (right),  the Lawrence brothers

Fusing a handful of musical styles -- garage, house and soul -- they managed to concoct a gorgeous dance single, "Latch," with the help of guest vocalist Sam Smith. The video is like sensual icing on the cake.

The Ruby Suns. In the event that you can't think of a single indie pop band from New Zealand, here's one. The Ruby Suns have been around since 2004 when Californian Ryan McPhun moved to Auckland and hooked up with local musicians.

Ryan McPhun, frontman of The Ruby Suns
The Ruby Suns have a glistening, eclectic sound and McPhun's voice is a perfect fit. Seriously, get over to iTunes or Spotify and listen to this band. In the meantime, enjoy "In Real Life, a swell electro-pop single from their fourth album and its goofy video, which features McPhun playing all the parts in a parody of reality competition shows entitled Are You Good at Something?

Fucked Up. Hailing from Toronto, Ontario, they've been around since 2001. You're either going to love this band's name, or dismiss them simply because of it. You're either going to like the fact that they're unapologetically punk, or you won't. Fact is, Fucked Up is a great band. In 2009, they even won the Polaris Music Prize for producing the best full-length Canadian album. The award is based on artistic merit, regardless of sales, genre or record label.

This is Fucked Up. That's lead singer Damian Abraham in your face.

And this is what Damian Abraham usually looks like when he's performing...

Damian Abraham routinely performs shirtless.
You're either turned on by this, or you're not. I am.

In 2011, Fucked Up released their critically acclaimed third album, a rock opera entitled David Comes to Life. And here's the video treatment for one its songs, "Inside a Frame," featuring an emotionally charged choreography session for a punk dance crew.

John Fullbright. This singer/songwriter hails from Okemah, Oklahoma, the birthplace of folk music legend Woody Guthrie. Fullbright shares some of Guthrie's gifts, so make your comparisons. Hell, you might even hear echoes of Tom Waits or Neil Young in his music, too.

John Fullbright
After a 2009 live album, Fullbright released his first studio recording (From the Ground Up) in 2012. It received a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Americana Album. Considering where he was raised, it's not surprising that some of his songs are sprinkled with Biblical allusions. The surprise is that fan favorite "Gawd Above" is sung from the perspective of the deity Himself.

Peace out,