Betty Hoopla An interview with Betty Who

Betty Who’s gay fans love her and she loves them right back. With a voice as big as Australia (that’s where she was born Jessica Anne Newham), Betty Who is someone who knows the value of an anthem. After all, she packed both her 2014 debut Take Me When You Go and 2017 follow-up The Valley with memorable ones. One such tune, “Somebody Loves You,” figured prominently into a viral Youtube video, featuring a dancing flash mob, in which a gay man proposed to his boyfriend in a Home Depot in Utah. Known for including LGBTQ Pride festivals as part […]

New World Record An interview with Tracey Thorn

  It’s not too soon to say that Record (Merge), the new album by Tracey Thorn (of Everything Bhe Girl fame), bowing in early March, is one of the best records of 2018. The nine songs are the perfect combination of thought provoking lyrics and emotions, most of which are set to irresistible dance beats. The only complaint listeners could possibly have is that at just 36 minutes, it all ends too soon. The solution is to listen to it again and again. I had the privilege of speaking with Tracey shortly before the album was released. Gregg Shapiro: Tracey, […]

Winter Tea Dance Tunes By Gregg Shapiro

After pulling off a retirement stunt that would make Cher blush, LCD Soundsystem returns with the illusory American Dream (DFA / Columbia). Although it’s not as immediately irresistible as 2007’s Sound of Silver or 2005’s eponymous debut disc, American Dream does manage to push almost all the buttons for which LCD Soundsystem has become famous and beloved. From the filtered clang and multitude of synths on opener “Oh Baby,” James Murphy makes it clear that he’s back and he means business. “Other Voices” is a suitably titled funky workout featuring other voices, including co-songwriter Nancy Whang. The Bowie-esque “Change Yr […]

Your 2018 Winter Reading List

Words and pictures – Readers should consider themselves lucky that, presently, gay writer and photographer Bill Hayes has two books for them to enjoy. The first is the paperback edition of his breathtaking 2017 memoir Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me (Bloomsbury, 2017), which interweaves essays with journal entries, photos and poetry to tell the story of the writer’s romantic relationship with the late writer and scientist Oliver Sacks. The second Hayes book, How New York Breaks Your Heart (Bloomsbury, 2018), focuses on his street photography through four-color and black & white images of his “chance encounters” with a […]

Goodnight and Good Luck

An interview with Nicole Atkins Already considered to be one of the best albums of 2017, Goodnight Rhonda Lee (Single Lock), the fourth full-length disc by Nicole Atkins, deserves all of the praise being heaped upon it. The 11 stellar tunes further Atkins’s singular exploration of vintage pop in the most exhilarating way, as you can hear on the title track, “Sleepwalking,” “A Little Crazy,” “If I Could,” “Listen Up,” and “Brokedown Luck.” Also of note is the way that the album addresses the singer/songwriter’s newfound sobriety, on songs including the aforementioned titular number. I had the pleasure of interviewing […]

Big Blasts from the Past

Depending on your generational perspective, the late soul goddess Minnie Riperton is either the mother of actress / singer / SNL alum Maya Rudolph or the singer with the five-octave vocal range best known for the timeless 1975 hit single “Lovin’ You,” co-written by Riperton and her husband Richard Rudolph. You can hear Riperton, who died of cancer in 1979 at 31, paying a “lovin’” homage to her daughter Maya at the end of “Lovin’ You.” The double-disc deluxe edition expanded reissue of Perfect Angel (Capitol / UMe), Riperton’s second album and the one on which “Lovin’ You” can be […]

Tinsel Tunes 2017

Leave it to a nice Jewish (bisexual) girl such as Rachael Sage to come up with one of the most delightful holiday recordings of the year. Her five-song EP Joy! (MPress) opens with a reading of “Joy to the World” that is pure Sage, right down to her distinctive phrasing and vocals. A radio mix of the songs also closes the EP. In between, it’s a festival of lights and light pop. The originals, including the lighthearted “Tchatchkes & Latkes” and the beautiful “Hanukkah in the Village,” are among Sage’s most appealing compositions. The disc’s centerpiece, in which  Sage sings […]