2 Nice Girls, Mary Gauthier, True Colors, Jeffrey Altergott, Naommon, Interpol, The Garland Cult, Minnie Driver, Kelly Rowland, Ledisi, Thelma Houston, Tegan and Sara, Mark Ronson, Krystal Warren & The Faculty.
2 Nice Girls
2 Nice Girls
In its heyday, 2 Nice Girls was heralded by the San Francisco Examiner as “the lesbian Beatles.” With the stated agenda, to “make lesbianism as attractive as possible,” the Austin-based punk/rock/chick band released three LPs (remember those flat, vinyl, black Frisbee-looking things?), touring the U.S. and Canada. They even made it to London for four shows.
That heyday began in 1985 and lasted until about 1992. Now, some 14 years later, the trio-sometimes-foursome has re-issued, remastered, and repackaged the self-titled album, 2 Nice Girls. Originally released in 1989, the recording’s 11 original cuts add two bonus cuts to the CD mix, and are topped by 2NG leader and former Houstonian Gretchen Phillips’ quirky and oft-requested tune, “I Spent My Last $10 (On Birth Control and Beer).”
Quaint and uncomplicated in presentation, 2 Nice Girls nostalgically reminds us of that pre-myspace.com time when lesbian-centric music was pretty much limited to a handful of women with little more than their six-strings and a dream. Details: www.TwoNiceGirlsMusic.com. — Nancy Ford
Between Light and Dark
When alternative country artist Mary Gauthier birthed the quirkily titled Drag Queens in Limousines in 1999, The New York Times‘ Jon Pareles declared her baby the #1 Independent Album of the Year. Its success prompted Lost Highway Records to quickly sign the regional music festival favorite to join its stable of artists like Lucinda Williams. When the label released Gauthier’s critically lauded Mercy Now in 2005, Bob Dylan, no less, joined the legion of her fans.
Now comes Between Daylight and Dark, Gauthier’s deep, raspy, fifth album. Its 10 cuts are “much less autobiographical and more observational,” the Louisiana treasure says. Choosing a standout tune is difficult, but the haunting “Can’t Find the Way” describes the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in a way that perhaps only its many victims — all of us — can appreciate. With guest artists like ’70s folk/rock titans Van Dyke Parks and Loudon (Rufus’ daddy) Wainwright, Between Daylight and Dark is guaranteed to elevate Gauthier to the heights she well deserves. Available September 18 from Lost Highway Records. Details: www.losthighwayrecords.com. — N.F.
Those who missed the symphony of equality that was Cyndi Lauper’s recent True Colors concert tour will welcome this replay. Contains tunes from artists who weren’t in the Houston show, including Indigo Girls, Rufus Wainwright, and The Gossip. Plus, buy this CD and $1 goes to Human Rights Campaign. Silver Label/Tommy Boy (www.tommyboy.com). — Preview: N.F.
Don’t Be a Stranger
Bears, take note: This independent acoustic artist should, at least visually, be elected your new poster cub. The originals on this CD are melodic and pleasing enough, albeit lyrically disturbing. But his redo of “Over the Rainbow” is unlistenable. Self-produced (www.jeffreyaltergott.com). — Review: N.F.
ITunes calls it alternative, but the gay and French Naommon describes his sound as “electro-purple-fluoro-plastic-sulky-acid-soul-clashy-disco-sequin pop.” We call it boring. But press says one of Madonna’s former stylists counts herself among his fans, so there you go. Alien Productions (www.myspace.com/naommon). — Review: N.F.
Our Love to Admire
If Houston radio wasn’t so dilettantish about new music, we’d hear much more of this band’s third album. The first single, “The Heinrich Maneuver,” lives up to expectations, starting strong and finishing stronger. Plenty of other tracks are instantly IPOD-worthy, such as the propulsive yet polished “The Mammoth” and the thoughtful “Wrecking Ball.” “The Lighthouse” is introspective, gentle, and vulnerable, and unlike anything else in Interpol’s library. Capitol Records (www.capitolrecords.com). — Review: Eric A.T. Dieckman
The Garland Cult
Protect Yourself from Hollywood
Love the name of this big gay Irish electronica band, and, fortunately, their music is pretty good, too. Their very Erasure-y first effort includes a full bonus CD of GC remixes, compliments of heavy producer Qubiq. Available September 25 from Ninth Wave Records (www.ninthwaverecords.com). — Review: N.F.
Who knew Karen Walker’s romantic rival on Will & Grace had such a pleasant singing voice? Easy, unassuming rock, with hints of an edge here and there. Ryan Adams and Liz Phair guest, which helps. She says, “Regarding the people who raise their eyebrows at the notion of kind of the vanity of actors making records, all I can do is hope that they will sort of listen without prejudice.” Zoë/Rounder records (www.rounder.com). — Review: N.F.
This former Destiny’s Child and native Houstonian somehow lends a curious crispness to the smooth R&B flow of her second solo offering. Heavy-hitters Snoop Dogg and Eve guest on the two best cuts, “Ghetto” and “Like This.” Music World/Columbia Records (musicworldringtones, www.columbiarecords.com). — Review: N.F.
Lost and Found
Jazzy, funky, and bluesy, this multi-talented songstress dropped this tasty, satisfying collection before hitting the big screen as an actress in Leatherheads, a feature film starring George Clooney. Nice, especially “Joy.” The Verve Music Group (www.vervemusicgroup.com). — Review: N.F.
A Woman’s Touch
It’s been 17 years since superdiva Thelma Houston set foot in a recording studio, so let’s welcome her back. Her return is full-voiced and triumphant with this collection of covers, especially the sassy redo of Sting’s “Brand New Day.” Give this girl another Grammy. Shout! Factory (www.shoutfactory.com). — Review: N.F.
Tegan and Sara
These prolific young twins from Canada have opened for Neil Young, Paul McCartney, and The Killers, among others. This alt collection, their fifth album, explains why they can hold their own with such diverse artists, and why The L Word picked them up for background tracks. Fresh tunes, thoughtful lyrics. Vapor Records (www.vaporrecords.com). — Review: N.F.
Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Robbie Williams, and others guest with the famed DJ on this eclectic collection of covers of Coldplay, Britney Spears, and others’ tunes done up in electronica fashion. Odd and funky; Quentin Tarentino may have his next soundtrack already laid down for him. Allido/RCA Records (www.allidorecords.com). — Review: N.F.
Krystal Warren & The Faculty
These selections have a Tracy Chapman feel, but are far more complex and musically layered, especially “I’ve Seen Days” and “Infinity.” A delightful Joni Mitchell vibe sneaks in on “On That First Day of Autumn.” Worth a listen. Relaxed Records (www.relaxedrecords.com). –Review: N.F.