Q-music: Pride sounds all year long

  • by Gregg Shapiro
  • Tuesday June 20, 2023
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Jake Shear's new album, "Last Man Dancing"
Jake Shear's new album, "Last Man Dancing"

Jake Shears, the hot front man of the fabulous queer band Scissor Sisters, made us wait five years between his solo albums. On 2018's eponymous record, it sounded like he made a conscious decision to focus on Scissor Sisters' Elton John-inspired vintage-pop as opposed to its more dance-oriented aspect.

On the cover of his wonderful new full-length "Last Man Dancing" (Mute), the porn-stache is gone and in its place a more youthful pic of the ageless Shears. "Last Man Dancing" is an entirely different animal too, with its joyful, youthful, exhilarating, and forward-thinking dance energy. And, yes, dancing is required.

Opener "Too Much Music" manages to be both retro and of the moment. "Do The Television," co-written by Shears, and Scissor Sister bandmates Scott Hoffman (aka Babydaddy) and Ana Lynch (Ana Matronic) is mesmerizing.

Kylie Minogue duets with Shears on the irresistible "Voices" and we get a good measure of Big Freedia on "Doses." Beginning with "8 Ball," and continuing through "Devil Came Down The Dance Floor," as well as "Mess of Me," "Doses," and "Radio Eyes," there's a nice use of the old-school continuous mix groove, giving the listener the feeling of being at their own private dance party or club.

Michael Angelakos hadn't yet come out as bi when his band Passion Pit released its second album "Gossamer" (French Kiss/Sony Music), newly reissued in a tenth-anniversary pink splatter vinyl double LP edition. This might explain some of the tension and serious subject matter throughout the album.

It's an interesting juxtaposition because Passion Pit's trademark sound is one of colorful and bouncy electro-dance pop. This duality, on songs such as "Carried Away," "Hideaway," "It's Not My Fault, I'm Happy," and "I'll Be Alright" and "Love Is Greed" (both featuring queer musician Nico Muhly), eases the impact without diluting it. While six years have passed since the previous Passion Pit album, fans have a chance to become reacquainted with "Gossamer" while they await new music from Angelakos and company.

Even the most casual Rufus Wainwright listener probably knows that he is the son of folk musicians Loudon Wainwright III and the late Kate McGarrigle. Nevertheless, the out singer/songwriter's musical taste runs more toward opera and theatrical pop as is evident from his 10 previous studio albums.

But a shift has occurred on "Folkocracy" (BMG), Wainwright's new star-studded recording, available on double-LP vinyl, as well as CD. With the exception of a new rendition of his song "Going To A Town" (presented as a breathtaking duet with Anohni), the other 13 tracks are covers, from traditional songs to folk and pop tunes. Madison Cunningham joins him on Ewan MacColl's "Alone," and that's John Legend performing Peggy Seeger's "Heading for Home" with Rufus.

A rousing rendition of The Mamas and The Papas' "Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)," features Susanna Hoffs, Chris Stills, and Sheryl Crow. Out Grammy-winner Brandi Carlile provides duet vocals on "Down In The Willow Garden." David Byrne can be heard on "High On A Rocky Ledge," and that's Chaka Khan on "Cotton Eyed Joe." All in all, "Folkocracy" is a rewarding experience.

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