I’ve always had better luck finding interesting music by gay artists from Out than from its hard news cousin, the Advocate. In fact, I’ve written about the Advocate’s music coverage before, but now that the Advocate is little more than a supplement, it’s up to Out to pick up the slack.
Unlike the Advocate, Out is willing to feature music with the most tangential relationship to gay audiences. If one member of a 10-piece band is an out musician, they have a shot at being covered. Just so long as the music is decent.
And the music featured in this metal/hardcore feature is actually pretty decent. Unlike four years ago, I skipped Myspace and went straight to Spotify.
I’ll admit God Seed and Nü Sensae weren’t my cup of tea, but Torche and Gaytheist were. It also helped that Out compared the former to Hüsker Dü and the latter to Fugazi. I’m not sure if the comparisons are totally on target, but of the four bands, Torche and Gaytheist struck that right balance of aggression and melody.
These albums join a really good line-up of 2012 releases by gay artists.
Frank Ocean, Scissor Sisters and Gossip already have the Musicwhore.org stamp of approval. Other releases of note:
- Bob Mould, Silver Age: I didn’t really start following Bob Mould till he released Body of Song, hearlded at the time as one of the strongest albums of his solo career. Silver Age lives up to its hype of bringing Mould back to the power pop days of Sugar. Oddly enough, it’s the one album I like that I haven’t yet owned — I’m just spinning it on Spotify.
- Grizzly Bear, Shields: Oh boy, did I hate Veckatimist. Indie rock fans and writers were wetting themselves over this album, whereas I wanted Ed Droste to go back making lo-fi Sigur Rós knock-offs on his four-track. I can get behind Shields because it reminds me more of In Ear Park, the Department of Eagles spin-off project that sounded more Grizzly Bear than Grizzly Bear. There’s a tunefulness on Shields that I haven’t heard since Horn of Plenty, i.e. the days when Ed Droste recorded Sigur Rós knock-offs on his four-track.
- Ivri Lider, Mishehu Paam (Somebody Once): Ivri Lider is one of Israel’s biggest pop stars, but pop in the Holy Land does not mean pop in the United States. Lider has a cool delivery, and his music is oriented for the European dancefloor. Mishehu Paam doesn’t rock out as much as its predecessor, Be’ketzev Ahid Be’tnuot Shel Ha’goof (The Steady Rhythm of Body Movements), but it has its moments, of which “Mazal Tov Israel” is one.
- Matt Alber, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”: Whitney Houston’s death spurred many tributes by gay artists, including this one by Matt Alber. I was never a Whitney Houston fan, and I got sick of this song when I was a teenager. But I could listen to Alber sing it on repeat, especially since he strips it from all artifice to make the lyrics sound honest. I wish Sacha Sacket had parlayed his cover of “How Will I Know” into a single. (I probably would have done “I’m Your Baby, Tonight” and made it sound like Penderecki’s Thenody for the Victims of Hiroshima.)
- Nico Muhly, Drones: Writing about music means dissecting what hits the ear drum into something that can be explained, and I just don’t want to do that with the music of Nico Muhly. I follow him because something about the way he strings notes together appeals to me, and I fear if I quantify that appeal, it will disappear. Besides, you’ve already heard a sample, right?
- Sigur Rós, Valtari: Actually, the notable thing about this album is the fact I found it to be one of the most disappointing of the year. If you liked (), then you’ll like this album. I did not like ().
- The Magnetic Fields, Love at the Bottom of the Sea: The Magnetic Fields were early contenders for the year-end favorite list, but too many other really good albums squeezed Stephin Merritt and co. out.
Some final notes:
- Sam Sparro’s follow-up, Return to Paradise, was released in Europe during the summer, but its lukewarm reception relegated its US rollout to a digital-only release that pretty much sprang up without much build-up. I’ve only spun the album a few times, and while Sparro still has his charm, so far nothing on Return to Paradise grabs in the same way his self-titled debut did.
- Mika ticked a lot of people off playing coy with his sexual identity when he first debuted, but now that the culture has reached a tipping point, Mika too has evolved. His music, on the other hand, still pretty much sucks.