Distinct musical styles dominate new drops from queer artists
by Gregg Shapiro
Dragapella superstars The Kinsey Sicks provide 3D glasses with their latest album Each Hit & I (kinseysicks.com). Slip them on to find hidden messages in the album artwork. You don’t need 3D glasses to listen to the humorous and often politically motivated messages in the disc’s 20 tracks. Of course, when you open a CD with “Wake the [email protected]#k Up America,” you definitely set a specific tone, which continues on “Decaf” (a hilarious parody of “Rehab”), “Obama Self” (based on “All by Myself”), the Michael Jackson tribute “Dead,” “Gonorrhea” (from “Mamma Mia,” so to speak), and “I Kissed a Gull,” to mention a few.
An organic chamber-folk/pop group, Dark Dark Dark boasts three (count ’em) out queer members including lead vocalists Nona Marie Invie and Marshall LaCount. Wild Go (Supply and Demand), their latest album, is a marvel of musicianship and distinctive songcraft. The wildest Dark Dark Dark gets—and that’s not saying much—is on “In Your Dreams” and “Right Path.” But that isn’t why you should listen to DDD. Listen to them for the wondrous title track’s waltz or the heavy-lidded stare of “Daydreaming” or the low-key celebration of “Celebrate” or the intimate “Something for Myself” or the piano and strings sweep of “Say the Word.”
The members of the all-female hard-rock band Lez Zeppelin are non-committal about where they fall on the Kinsey Scale, but on the strength of their name alone, they are included here. We certainly know where they stand when it comes to the legendary metal/blues outfit Led Zeppelin. On their first disc, they drew from the Zeppelin deck and played songs from various stages of their career. On Lez Zeppelin I (Pie), the women make the tribute official, playing all nine songs from Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut. Let’s be honest—Robert Plant’s voice had female characteristics, and so it makes sense that they’re a nice fit for Shannon Conley. Plus, by not changing the gender in the lyrics to the songs, they naturally up the queer factor.
One of the more experimental queer bands, Dearling Physique isn’t afraid to mix it up on Deadeye Dealer (dearlingphysique.com). Album opener weaves spoken word and synthesized beats into the song’s rock-oriented framework. That kind of artistic blending remains true throughout, on songs including “Monster,” “Your Condition,” “Oh This Currency,” “Sleep and the Heart,” “Hooks for Safety,” and “Discipline Your Hands.
Variations on the San Francisco sound can be heard on discs by True Margrit and The Bobbleheads. The baker’s dozen cuts on The Juggler’s Progress (Bobo Tunes), written by Margrit Eichler, are clever and catchy pop tunes that inspire toe-tapping and head-bobbing. Eichler, who works the piano keys over like a queer Ben Folds, and fellow band-mates have created an irresistible collection of tunes, with highlights including “Syllable,” “Fly It Like a Flag,” “50,000 Names,” “Emily,” “Casseroles and Thunderstorms,” “500 Years,” and “Lucy.” On their new five-song EP M Class (PopPop), John Ashfield’s trio The Bobbleheads open with the darkly humorous “Rose, I’m Sorry,” before launching into the early Beatles-style pop of the title tune. On “Are You Coming Now?” The Bobbleheads sound as though they are looking in new and exciting directions.
As giddy and exuberant as Ice Cream Spiritual!, its 2008 predecessor, Do Whatever You Want All the Time (We Are Free) by Ponytail, is the feel-good record of the season, even if you have no idea what out vocalist Molly Siegel is saying. Siegel hoots and hollers, wails and whoops, oohs and aahs her way through the seven songs on “DWYWATT,” including the rubbery “Easy Peasy,” the squeaky “Flabbermouse,” the sticky and sweet “Honey Touches,” the jittery “Beyondersville/Flight of Fancy,” and the wiggly “Tush.” It’s the musical equivalent of a ponytail bouncing and swaying before your eyes. Whip my hair, indeed.
Led by two lesbians, inclusive seven-member band Dangerous Ponies makes its full-length album debut with a 13-track disc on Punk Rock Payroll. The music on the CD is nothing if not diverse and should keep listeners with varying degrees of attention spans riveted. With a reputation for captivating live shows, Dangerous Ponies has saddled that energy on songs such as “On a Line Pt. II,” “I Only Wear My Favourite Clothes at Home,” “I’ve Been Going about This Wrong,” “For Mikey Pt. II,” and the retro pop of “Ghosts.”
Finally, an homage to the all-female troupe that started it all, The Go-Go’s acclaimed 1981 debut album, Beauty and the Beat (IRS/Capitol), has been reissued in a double-disc 30th (!) anniversary edition. The all-female new-wave quintet’s irresistible hit songs such as “Our Lips Are Sealed” (co-written by the out-and-bi Go-Go Jane Wiedlin and Terry Hall of the Specials and Fun Boy Three fame) and “We’ve Got the Beat” (written by Charlotte Caffey) still sound as delightful as they did the first time you heard them. And songs such as “How Much More,” “Lust to Love,” “You Can’t Walk in Your Sleep (If You Can’t Sleep),” “Skidmarks on My Heart,” and “Can’t Stop the World” also hold up well. On the second disc, recorded live at Metro in Boston in 1981, you can get a feel for how the band earned its bad-girl reputation. In recent years, Go-Go’s lead singer Belinda Carlisle (who had her own successful solo career) has made a name for herself as an outspoken LGBT activist following the coming out of her son, actor James Duke Mason.
Gregg Shapiro is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.