Q-Music: queer pop playlist

  • by Gregg Shapiro
  • Tuesday October 10, 2023
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Q-Music: queer pop playlist

October is LGBTQ History Month and coincidentally there's an abundance of music from our community to get listeners through the rest of the year and well into the next.

"Mono" (Giant), the title of queer, hip hop-influenced singer/songwriter K.Flay's new album has a frightening significance. Due to a health crisis, she has lost hearing in her right ear. In other words, she no longer hears in stereo.

She addresses the subject in album opener "Are You Serious?," a song in which she captures the trauma of the experience, and yet she proves herself to be a survivor, making an album in the aftermath of this massive change in her personal and professional life. Not an easy listen, but well worth the time, K.Flay alternates between lashing out and taking her lashes on songs including "Hustler," "Punisher," "Carsick," "In America," "Irish Goodbye," "Chaos Is Love," and "Yes I'm Serious." If you're a fan of queer singer/songwriter Caroline Rose, you'll likely dig K.Flay, too.

K.Flay performs on March 27 & 28, 2024 at The Independent in San Francisco.


Queer, DC-based musician Rye Thomas of Soft Punch says his music is "For the queer and the damaged and the eternally curious." Like K.Flay's "Mono," Soft Punch's album "Above Water" arrives following a debilitating illness.

The baker's dozen songs, including "Here Comes The Chorus," "Now's The Time," "An Astronaut," "Semaphore," "Here/Now," and "Fine," are the very definition of sophisticated bedroom pop, intimate and incandescent. Soft Punch also packs a punch on the harder rocking song "My Head."


In its lush and distinctive way, the music of the coolest Icelandic band Sigur Rós (led by openly queer Jónsi) has always felt orchestral. Therefore, when you hear "Átta" (BMG), the band's first album in 10 years, on which it performs with the London Contemporary Orchestra (under the direction of conductor Robert Ames), it sounds perfectly natural.

"Átta," available in a double LP set (meant to be spun at 45 RPM), is as gorgeous a musical statement as the cover art (a Pride banner set ablaze) is unsettling. Songs such as "Blóðberg," "Gold," "Mór," "Andrá," and "Fall," do offer a kind of musical comfort in these difficult times.


Mouths of Babes is a notable queer duo. Comprised of Ingrid Elizabeth (of Coyote Grace fame) and Ty Greenstein (of Girlyman renown), the couple brings years of musical experience to this new project as you can hear on the new album "World Brand New."

A seamless blending of Ingrid's Americana-oriented style with Ty's pop-influenced sound, Mouths of Babes might be the most compelling queer duo since the Indigo Girls.

The message of making the "world brand new" runs throughout the album, from the title track to politically meaningful numbers including "One For Me" and the dazzling "My Country." "Jubilee" is the perfect name for the joyful, Cajun-fueled tune at the center of the album. Mouth of Babes' cover of Holly Near's "I Am Willing" (featuring Vicki Randle) is simply stunning.


Ragana is also a queer female duo (Maria and Nicole, who divide their time between Olympia, Washington, and the Bay Area), but on the polar opposite end of the spectrum from Mouths of Babes. Purveyors of pitch-black metal, Ragana serves up visceral metal sludge accompanied by vocal-chord bloodying shrieks.

That said, the title cut of its new album "Desolation Flowers" (The Flenser), is described as "a hymn of gratitude for queer and trans ancestors, known or unknown, by blood or affinity, whose joy and survival make our lives possible, and whose memory inspires and helps us resist the tide of increasingly visible hatred and oppression." How's that for a statement? As Miss Jean Brodie herself said, "For those that like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like."

Ragan performs Nov. 3 at Eli's Mile High Club, Oakland, with Kim and Cheree.


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