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QMusic

Music reviews

Here’s why Hello, Dolly!: The New Broadway Cast Recording (Masterworks Broadway) is one of the gayest things you’re likely to hear this year. Hello, Dolly! is a musical based on the play The Matchmaker, written by Thornton Wilder, a gay man. The musical comedy Hello, Dolly! features music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, a gay man, and a book by Michael Stewart, also a gay man. The 2017 revival stars the Tony-nominated Bette Midler in the lead role. Midler is a singer and actress who first achieved great acclaim for her performances at gay NYC bathhouse, the Continental Baths, and has long acknowledged and vocally supported her LGBTQ fan-base. Cast members David Hyde Pierce and Gavin Creel are also openly gay. Even the subject matter, about a slightly audacious meddler with ulterior motives who “arranges things,” has a gay glow to it. Midler shines as Dolly Levi. As you can hear, she sings in character (with a nod here and there to the original Dolly, Carol Channing) and fully embodies the role in songs such as “Before The Parade Passes By,” “So Long Dearie” and “Dancing.” Pierce even gets a solo, “Penny In My Pocket,” which was restored for the production.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Cover to Cover

There is a lot to love about What in the Natural World (Paradise of Bachelors) by Jake Xerxes Fussell. To begin with, the artwork on the cover and inside the gatefold CD is by the late artist Roger Brown. The two pieces – “Hunters Hunting an Autumnal Tapestry” and “A Seasonal Change” – are not only lovely to behold, but also complementary to the music within. Fussel drenches the eight songs, ranging from traditionals to obscure covers of tunes by Duke Ellington and others, and even one original, with his Southern syrup voice. An intimate and stripped down, yet rich and colorful album, Fussell gets things started with Ellington’s joyful “Jump for Joy,” in which he asks if we’ve seen “pastures groovy.” More questions follow on the traditional “Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing on a Sweet Potato Vine?” Fussell sets Welsh poet Idris Davies’ “Bells of Rhymney” to music and brings us to tears on “Furniture Man.” “Billy Button” and “Love Bonnie” are also not to be missed.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dance Like You’re Straight

Let’s face it queer folks, dance music was never our exclusive domain. Attend an electronic dance music festival or concert and you’re likely to see as many straight people as you’d see at the Vans Warped Tour. Our straight brothers and sisters are not only dancing to it in growing numbers, they’re making it, as well.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Early 21st-Century Men

Kudos to Swedish singer/songwriter Jens Lekman. His new album, Life Will See You Now (Secretly Canadian), has some of the most irresistible (if zany) dance tracks you are likely to hear this season. “Evening Prayer,” about Babak, his tumor, and a 3D printer, may be the most bizarre tea-dance sensation you’ve ever heard. The island rhythms of “What’s that Perfume You Wear?” is sure to activate more than a few of the listener’s senses. The joyful “Wedding on Finistére” goes for an 80s-style Council beat and energy, while the persuasive funk and “Cambrian explosion” of “How We Met, The Long Version” divides its time between your hips and your feet. Lekman also deserves praise for including the masterful juxtaposition of a song about one male friend’s love for another (“How Can I Tell Him”) and a song about a Mormon missionary (“To Know Your Mission”). The Tracy Thorne duet on “Hotwire the Ferris Wheel” is the icing on the delicious cake.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

21st-Century Women

Would we have Mitski without queer artist St. Vincent (a.k.a. Annie Clark)? Possibly, but it’s hard to ignore St. Vincent’s influence. Nevertheless, Mitski is boldly and brilliantly her own artist on Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans); beginning with the stuttering beat and fluttering vocal of the bizarre “Happy,” a song that morphs from experimental to pure pop and back again. Her loud/quiet/loud approach on “Best American Girl” suits the drama of the subject matter. Listeners would be wise to prepare themselves for the shift from the string-busting, shrieking punk of “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars” to the exquisite ballad “Thursday Girl.” Like puberty, there is never a dull moment on this album and Mitski makes nothing less than an indelible impression with songs such as “Crack Baby,” “Dan the Dancer,” and “Fireworks”.

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