Q-Music: more pre-Pride tunes with cool sounds

  • by Gregg Shapiro
  • Tuesday April 30, 2024
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Q-Music: more pre-Pride tunes with cool sounds

If you've been listening to the satellite radio station SiriusXMU (Channel 35, "Indie & Beyond") lately, chances are good you've heard the title track from "Eye on The Bat" (Polyvinyl), the new album by Palehound led by queer singer/songwriter El Kempner.

"Eye on the Bat" has been in serious rotation since the beginning of 2024, and it's nice to hear a queer artist over the airwaves. Over the course of Palehound's four albums, Kempner has honed their skill of giving the songs a conversational tone, while enveloping them in an indie rock setting that feels both modern and timeless. Palehound hits it out of the park on "The Clutch," "Good Sex," "I Want It U Got It," "Head Like Soup," "Route 22," and "Right About You."


Does anyone out there remember the electro-pop band Elkland? It put out one major-label album in the early 2000s and opened for Erasure on its 2005 North American tour. Elkland broke up in '06, and gay frontman Jonny Pierce went on to form the band The Drums.

Since 2010, The Drums have released six full-length albums including the newest one "Jonny" (Anti-). The title tune, about still waiting for words of kindness from an elder, and the heartbreaking "Be Gentle," with the lines "Why the fuck am I so sensitive? Will I be this way my whole life?", offer listeners an idea of the album's themes. However, for fans of The Drums' electro-driven dance style, the album offers "I'm Still Around," "The Flowers," "Obvious," "Isolette," and "Better."


Listening to the 21st-century folk sound of "Avalanche" (Yep Roc), the new album by queer singer/songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs, it's hard to believe she's not better known than she is. With just a few full-length albums to her name, released over almost 20 years, Youngs took close to a dozen years between the release of her previous album and "Avalanche."

Well worth the wait, Youngs doesn't disappoint on "Knife Went In," "Everglades" (co-written with Christian Lee Hutson, who also collaborated with queer singer/songwriter Katy Kirby on her recent album), "Next Time Around," "It's Later Than You Think," the gorgeous "Now Comes The Mystery," and the title cut (co-written with Madi Diaz).


Dig Sam Smith? Not sure when their next new album is scheduled to be released? Looking for something to listen to in the interim? Check out the second full-length studio album by queer singer/songwriter Wrabel, "Based on a True Story" (Nettwerk).

Wrabel, who has co-written songs for P!nk, Idina Menzel, Kesha, Ben Platt, Years & Years, Lea Michelle and others, is more than capable of performing his own compositions. Sounding like an American version of Sam Smith, Wrabel is as comfortable and confident belting out emotional ballads ("Another Song About Love," "Beautiful Day," "Lost Cause," and "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself") as he is performing catchy and rhythmic pop numbers ("Feel It Now," "Abstract Art," and "Just Like You").


How many versions of the cast recording of "Sweeney Todd" do you have in your music collection? Chances are almost every queer person (of a certain age, at least) has the one from 1979, starring Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou.

Following the 1989 first Broadway revival, the next stage production that earned a cast recording was the one in 2005, starring Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris. A couple years later there was the original soundtrack to the Oscar-winning Tim Burton-directed movie version with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham.

The latest addition is "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2023 Broadway Cast Recording)" (Warner/Reprise) starring Josh Groban in the title role and Annaleigh Ashford as Mrs. Lovett, and the production is still running as of this writing.

Co-written by the late musical genius Stephen Sondheim, and Hugh Wheeler (with whom Sondheim also collaborated on "A Little Night Music" and "Pacific Overtures"), "Sweeney Todd" tells the story of the vengeful "demon barber" Todd and his meat pie-making accomplice Lovett.

Groban and Ashford, both of whom received Tony nominations for their performances, make this version of the cast recording, featuring beloved numbers including "Not While I'm Around," "Johanna," "Pretty Women," and "A Little Priest," a worthy addition to your library.


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