LISTEN: Xiu Xiu’s new single “Hi”

This is already shaping up to be a year of new releases by LGBT (ish) bands and singers. Adam Lambert, Scissor Sisters and Of Montreal have already released tracks from upcoming albums. Now, indie avant popsters Xiu Xiu are back with their upcoming release, a new single and even a book by queer frontman Jamie Stuart, pictured. The official word came today that the band has dropped its first single from its upcoming album Always set for a March release (although the track was released a week ago on Soundcloud).

The album is said to ambitiously broaches themes and topics such as the objectification of migrant Chinese female laborers (“Factory Girls”), an Afghan teenage boy murdered by American soldiers (“Gul Mudin”) and a teenage girl too young for pregnancy (“I Luv Abortion”). Heavy handed, right? Heavy handed stuff, huh? But for those familiar with Xiu Xiu, Stewart and company don’t churn out bleak music despite such subjects. Their strange knack for melding pop music, tragedy and distinct hooks is evident on 2010′s Dear God, I Hate Myself.

Always has a big time Dallas connection, too. The album is mixed by Dallas-based producer John Congleton, who is a pretty big deal according to NPR. He’s worked with local acts like The Polyphonic Spree, Black Tie Dynasty and Sarah Jaffe and on a bigger scale, has produced work with Marilyn Manson, Antony and the Johnsons, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and whole helluva lot more. Always is also produced by Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier.

“Hi” is extravagant in its delivery with a major buildup and its lyrics are both abstract and poignant, but if it’s any hint of the rest of the album, I’m very much looking forward to it. Listen after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Joan Jett and Black Tie Dynasty at Que Fest Saturday night

After a dismal drive in the rain to Rowlett, the storm somehow paused for the evening’s show at Que Fest. The night was at times both cool and sticky at Robertson Park. Attendance didn’t look too high when local band Black Tie Dynasty took the stage, but increased as darkness came and Joan Jett would soon appear. More pics and notes from the show after the jump.

Black Tie Dynasty

—  Rich Lopez

Concert notice: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts to play Rowlett in July with a reunited BTD

Thanks to the guys and gals of Idol Records for inadvertently letting me know about this show. The Rowlett Exchange Club will be hosting Que Fest in early July. With a tagline, “It’s all about the kids,” the club celebrates 15 years of service with a three-day festival and concert. For their second day, they bring in Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on July 3.

One of our favorite butch woman rockers, Jett is having not too bad a year. The film “The Runaways” came out earlier this year depicting the story of her first band. To coincide with the film, she released a substantial greatest hits chronicling her time with The Runaways (albeit remade versions) up to her 2006 release, “Sinner.” And of course, it includes “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

—  Rich Lopez