I had such ambitions for June. I was going to write a bunch of reviews for Gay Pride Month, and I was going to make a big deal about it. But then I got distracted first by Eponymous 4, then by a visit to the emergency room which revealed stones in my gallbladder.
(That’s the other reason my updates for July have been scarce — I’ve been recovering from surgery for the past few weeks.)
I did manage to write about Dylan Rice, Sacha Sacket, Ex-Boyfriends, Antony and the Johnsons and Morrissey, who won’t even confirm what kind of sex he has (but he’s gay enough.)
This round-up features other artists, mostly culled from music coverage in the Advocate and Out magazines, of whom I was going to write.
Ari Gold, Space Under Sun
Ari Gold, Ari Gold
Shirts don’t seem to take a liking to Ari Gold. The boy just can’t seem to keep one on, not that anyone would really mind.
Gold is an R&B singer unafraid to address his orientation — no gender pronoun ambiguities in his music, thank you very much. He has a smooth, rhythmic sound and an understated, nasal voice that doesn’t reach American Idol levels of pomposity.
Space Under Sun, Gold’s second album, has a finer studio polish than his self-titled debut. The sound is stronger, the vocals richer. The writing, however, doesn’t have quite the same lustre.
Ari Gold, the album, was cobbled together from years of different studio sessions, and the thin, nearly amateur sound has more immediacy than the gloss of Space Under Sun. Perhaps that’s my indie rockism coming though.
At 10 tracks, Ari Gold is a well-focused collection, and while the 14-track Space Under Sun is far more luxurious, it doesn’t capture the same kind of soul.
Garrin Benfield, Where Joy Kills Sorry
If a spectrum can be drawn between the higher-profiled gay male songwriters, Garrin Benfield would fall slightly closer to Rufus Wainwright than Bob Mould.
Electric guitars don’t dominate Benfield’s sound the way it does Dylan Rice, although both songwriters are deeply rooted in the same troubadour tradition. Where Rice is raw, Benfield is beautiful.
The perjorative I would usually throw around is "folkie", but Benfield’s songwriting does the soft sell incredibly well. After a few listens, it’s difficult to deny the man can spin a tune.
Benfield doesn’t have a booming voice, so the calm of his songs suits it nicely.
The Gossip, Standing in the Way of Control
I think I’m liking this ’80s resurgence the more it doesn’t like an ’80s resurgence.
Vola & the Oriental Machine demonstrated you could evoke the Vapors and Duran Duran without having to employ the same studio wizardry (or lack of) that made those bands distinctive.
The Gossip, which started out in the garage vein of the White Stripes, went the New Wave route for Standing in the Way of Control with compelling results.
Beth Ditto’s rough, soulful voice is a magnetic presence throughout the entire album, and the band’s sparse instrumentation falls somewhere between the Police and Sleater-Kinney.