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Gayer & gayer by the minute

by Gregg Shapiro

Gayer & gayer by the minute

It looks like 2019 is going to be a good year for out R&B artist Rahsaan Patterson. His song "Tears Ago" is one of the few highlights on Dionne Warwick's new studio album, her first in five years. Patterson himself steps into the spotlight with his sixth studio album "Heroes & Gods" (Shanachie), a set of songs that strikes a balance between his smooth and funky sides. On rhythmic numbers "Silly Love Fool," "Catch Me When I Fall" and the title cut, Patterson invites us to join him on a hot, sweaty dance floor. He also knows how to provide the perfect soundtrack for chilling on "Sent from Heaven," "I Try" and "Oxford Blues."

By now, hot, out former Judybats frontman Jeff Heiskell has been a solo act longer than he was in the band he formed. He's released more albums under the Heiskell moniker than the Judybats did when they were signed to a major label. Somewhat edgier than what he did with the Judybats, Heiskell's solo work is definitely gayer. This has never been truer than on "Alexanderbear69" from his new album "Songs in the Key of H" (heiskellmusic.com). The Knoxville-based artist pays tribute in the wonderful "Knoxville Town" featuring a rap by Matt Honkonen, and is nothing less than radiant on "Neon Yellow." Heiskell leads us down an Americana path before shifting gears on the homewrecker anthem "For a Day." Also of note is the queer drinking song "I'm Still Around," the gorgeous "Trashcan Romeo," the rocking "Dirty Unicorn" and the raunchy retro "On the Down Low."

Reflective of personal and political change, "The Medicine Show" (Concord) by Melissa Etheridge is subtitled "an unrivaled true story of redemption and a 74 Fender." Etheridge rocks harder than she has in years on the title opener, and continues in that vein on "Shaking," "Love Will Live" and "Wild and Lonely." It's not all blistering rock and roll, as you can hear on "Woman Like You," "Faded by Design," the exquisite "I Know You," the power pop ballad "The Last Hello," and the lightly funky "This Human Chain."

French Vanilla effortlessly recaptures the queer spirit of the 1980s for 21st-century ears on its second album "How am I not myself?" (Danger Collective). Making the best use of a saxophone and female lead vocals since Romeo Void, French Vanilla has delivered a timeless record. It's the kind of disc that's as at home at an 80s downtown New York loft party as it is at a queer dance party in a Miami Arts District warehouse. It's also intelligent pop that asks you to think about its messages while you work your body to songs "Lost Power," "Bromosapien" and "Sensitive (Not Too Sensitive)."

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