Seasonal Gaiety

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating. LGBTQ musicians are making some of the most captivating and inspiring music out there. Since the beginning of 2018, new releases by queer artists such as Jim Andralis, Lucy Dacus, H.C. McEntire, and Sarah Shook rank among the best to be heard. Beginning with the release of her eponymous 2005 debut recording, Brandi Carlile has consistently delivered outstanding albums, including The Story and Bear Creek, that have earned her a devoted following. With a goose-bump raising vocal range and the ability to write songs with immense emotional impact, Carlile doesn’t disappoint with […]

Second City Soundcheck

After a lengthy absence, the Chicago rock music scene is back on our radar again. With the reunited Smashing Pumpkins (minus D’arcy, of course) embarking on a huge concert tour and Liz Phair’s 25th anniversary reissue of her groundbreaking debut album Exile in Guyville (under the moniker Girlysound to Guyville) on almost everyone’s playlist, the Second City sounds good. In addition to the Girlysound to Guyville reissue, Liz Phair is also being feted on vinyl via the LP reissues of 1994’s Whip-Smart and 1998’s Whitechocolatespaceegg (both on Capitol / UMe). Arriving as it did so soon after Exile in Guyville, […]

Cover Girls (and Guys)

Sister Orchid (Palmetto) is not the first time quirky singer / songwriter Nellie McKay has turned her attention to the songs of others on an album. That distinction belongs to 2009’s Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day. And on 2015’s My Weekly Reader, she sauntered through the 60s. For Sister Orchid, McKay applies her unconventional interpretive skills to a set of jazz standards with fragrant results. The subtly bubbling organ on opener “My Romance” gives the song a lighthearted texture. In fact, much of the album has a pleasing, airy Blossom Dearie quality, particular on numbers such […]

Seasonal Gaiety

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating. LGBTQ musicians are making some of the most captivating and inspiring music out there. Since the beginning of 2018, new releases by queer artists such as Jim Andralis, Lucy Dacus, HC McEntire and Sarah Shook rank among the best to be heard. Beginning with the release of her eponymous 2005 debut recording, Brandi Carlile has consistently delivered outstanding albums, including The Story and Bear Creek, that have earned her a devoted following. With a goose-bump raising vocal range and the ability to write songs with immense emotional impact, Carlile doesn’t disappoint with […]

Seconds and Thirds

It’s best to get this tidbit out of the way first; Greta Kline, best known as singer / songwriter Frankie Cosmos, is the daughter of actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates. We know her father can sing because he was on Broadway in Pirates of Penzance (alongside Linda Ronstadt!), but we haven’t had the dance to hear her mother belt one out. Genetics aside, Vessel (Sub Pop), the third Frankie Cosmos album in four years, is as much an original artistic statement as it is an homage to her forebears Liz Phair and artists on the K Records roster. These […]

Screen Scene 2018

On Easter Sunday 2018, as part of its ongoing live musical series, NBC presented Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar, starring John Legend. When it comes to Webber, you’d think there’d have been more movie versions of his musicals than there are, but you’d be wrong. In fact, the only theatrical movies have been Norman Jewison’s 1973 adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar, Alan Parker’s 1996 take on Evita starring Madonna and gay filmmaker Joel Schumacher’s 2004 rendition of The Phantom of the Opera. Supposedly, there is an animated version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, as […]

Going above and Beyond: an interview with Andy Bell of Erasure

It’s been 30 years since the release of Erasure’s third album The Innocents, the disc that aided the duo of gay vocalist Andy Bell and synthesizer mastermind Vince Clarks (formerly of Depeche Mode and Yazoo) into crossing over into mainstream success with songs such as “A Little Respect” and “Chains of Love”. Of course, the gays (and the cool kids) had been dancing to them, and songs such as “Oh, L’Amour”, “Who Needs Love Like That”, “Victim of Love” and “Sometimes” for a couple of years by then. Since the release of The Innocents, Erasure has put out more than […]

Out of the 80s and 90s

  Beloved by adults and children alike, Grammy-winning band They Might Be Giants, led by John Flansburgh and John Linnell, are known for its delightful wordplay and catchy melodies. TMBG’s 1989 hit single “Birdhouse in Your Soul” is one of the best examples of this. The good news is that after 20 studio albums, including the latest one, I Like Fun  (Idlewild / Megaforce), TMBG hasn’t lost its ability to entertain us while giving us something to think about. If you’re one of those gays whose awareness of singer/songwriter Joe Henry is limited to the fact that he’s married to […]

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 […]

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 […]