Queer recording artists move on out
by Gregg Shapiro
Despite Our Differences (Hollywood) is a fitting name for the new Indigo Girls record for many reasons, not the least of which is that after nearly 20 years, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are no longer recording for Epic. Also worth noting is production by hotshot, in-demand producer and musician Mitchell Froom. In case you missed it, Emily curses on opening track "Pendulum Swingers." Some things that haven't changed include the queer duo's inclusion of stellar guest musicians, represented here by Pink, Brandi Carlile, Greg Leisz, and Froom's (and Suzanne Vega's) daughter Ruby. There are also the alternating tunes, Ray's with a razor-sharp rock edge and Saliers' rolling like waves lapping at the shore.
Continuing to rock out like she means it, queer-rock icon Joan Jett goes for George W. Bush's jugular on "Riddles," the opening track of Sinner (Blackheart Records). Still raising a ruckus with her band The Blackhearts, Jett makes one of her most definitively out statements on the song "A.C.D.C.," about a woman who's got "girls all over the world" and "men every now and then."
Cutting edge, all-female queer band Erase Errata's latest disc Nightlife (Kill Rock Stars) correctly scrawls dance beats over punk crunch. Think The Slits crossed with Gang of Four, and add a dash of Le Tigre. Bracketed by the "dark cruising" of "Cruising" and the garbled gallop of "Nightlife," duskiness permeates the album, which can also be experienced on "Another Genius Idea from our Government" and "Wasteland."
An equally experimental queer male band, Grizzly Bear, returns with their second full-length album, Yellow House (Warp). An instantly more accessible effort than their debut recording, it is nevertheless as challenging as it is rewarding. All 10 of these experimental chamber folk tunes are certain to haunt listeners long after they've stopped playing.
Sort of a US version of Canada's Broken Social Scene, Now It's Overhead features band members such as Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink, associated with other musical outfits on the same record label. Even openly
Yes, that's out pop icon Leslie Gore singing on "Siren," a song on For the One Who Kills Tomorrow (Sharkmeat), the new disc by queer NYC-based Shimmerplanet. Also, check out the self-titled disc by Chicago-based GLBT band Retardos de la Mour (Olive Loaf).
Queer singer/songwriter Gregory Douglass' sixth full-length album Up & Away (Emote) finds the Vermont-based artist maturing in fascinating directions. More than 1,000 miles south, in Tampa, Florida, Jeremy Gloff has released his latest album, Now's the Right Time to Feel Good (jeremygloff.com). A deeply personal collection of 19 songs, it is split into two parts, My Present Because of My Past and My Future Because of My Present.
D.C. Anderson is a true hyphenate. He's a singer, a songwriter, an actor and much more. He co-wrote more than half of the songs on I Am Still (LML Music), his latest album, which is buoyed by both his delightful sense of humor ("Jury Duty Girlfriend") and his distinctive performance style.
Neil Cohen's original composition "Day Off," the title track to his Scootertown album, is a holiday of a dance number that has its roots in the sound of the 1970s. It fits in well with the rest of the album, which features Cohen's interpretations of 60s and 70s standards such as "Everybody Is a Star," "Going Out of My Head," "Easy To Be Hard," "Hello, It's Me," "Celebrate Me Home" (a duet with out singer Billy Porter) and "You've Made Me So Very Happy."