Kristine W has been a fixture in the gay dance music scene for two decades (more than a dozen of her singles have topped Billboard’s U.S. dance chart). She’s just released her latest video and single, “Out There.” Take a look and listen here.
Dance artist Hayla may have the gayest background ever — perhaps a little too gay. Today’s press release is quick to report that she was raised by two lesbian moms and the daughter of a gay hairstylist. Now, she says her new single, “I’m Free,” was inspired after finding her steady beau of seven years in bed with a guy. Talk about a seven-year itch.
Read her insightful press release and listen to the radio edit mix of “I’m Free” after the jump.
Kevin Barnes and company get off to a wobbly start with “Geld Ascent” in OM’s new release. If static and feedback had a child, this would be it. It feels more like a shock move to explode the opening, but they fall back into the more familiar sound with second track “Spiteful Intervention.”
I never know what OM sings about, but they know how to create a song that’s feel good in sound and yet it’s never, ever dumbed down. They don’t write lyrics as much as they create eclectic odes set to music in tracks like “We Will Commit Wolf Murder” or “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission.” I wanna ask what the hell that means, but then I’m entertained to the point of forgetting my complaint and just want to groove along.
The thing is, it’s nothing new. OM delivers the energy, just more of the same. Quirky lyrics, falsetto breaks and confetti like puffs of music are much like what they’ve done in 2010’s False Priest or 2008’s Skeletal Lamping. I don’t want them to change their personality, but they’ve gone so off the chart with obscurity, they sound like they’ve gotten stuck there.
Two and half stars (out of five).
Seal Soul 2
The former Mr. Heidi Klum proves his voice is topnotch as he revisits soul classics again.. His voice is complementary to the covering of tracks by predecessors such as Gaye, Green and Pendergrass. The real question is why?
Seal’s voice is like comfort food. It’s easy to relish in and this sound works for him, but for a set of soul classics, the album is on automatic pilot. There’s nothing quite wrong with his rendition of “Love T.K.O.,” but he never sounded present in it.
There was also an immediate safeness to the album. The track selections are obvious like “Let’s Stay Together” or “What’s Going On” that plays uninspired.
He’s basically following the Rod Stewart reinvention strategy, but I’d rather hear Seal get back to his original stuff that was always an edgy alternative to contemporary pop.
Two and half stars.
The Twilight Sad No One Can Ever Know
In their third full-release (six overall), these Scottish indie rockers deliver a grand episode of shoegazing. Singer James Graham’s thick accent is a character in itself, but strangely inviting. They head into darker territory, but opener “Alphabet” sets an inviting tone off the bat.
The move to a slightly harder sound is a wise one. They thrive with pumped up energy but don’t neglect their folkish sensibilities. Instead, it’s smartly elevated with these additional layers of sound.
Titles like “Sick,” “Dead City” and “Kill it in the Morning” sound depressing, but there is a wealth of strongly structured tunes that are engaging and cohesive. Even when they veer into Smiths territory with the dreamy “Don’t Look at Me,” they keep a strong sense of self and pull off a killer album.
Three and half stars.
Metallica Beyond Magnetic EP
Warner Bros. Records
Released as an accompaniment to their 30thh anniversary concerts, this EP is a set of four songs recorded during their 2008 album sessions for Death Magnetic and is intentionally released in a more session style rather than high production value.
With signature guitar and drum rampages, Metallica doesn’t falter with first track, “Hate Train,” and its force is like a fist to the face. That’s a good thing. Skip over the annoying repetition of “Just a Bullet Away” (or listen to it below), but soak in and worship the muscularity of their chord action in “Hell and Back.” If this song were on Scruff, he’d be a haggard-faced muscle daddy still worthy of a “woof.”
Final track “Rebel Babylon” closes out this small chapter with Herculean strength and Hetfield just pushes his gritty vocals to the max and the band lays down the rock that requires either a head banging or a fist pumping — or maybe both at the same time.
Various Artists Ultra Dance 13
The grooves are in overdrive in this 13th volume of the popular dance compilation. Big names like Gaga, Britney Spears and Pitbull are placed next to budding dance DJ/producer tracks by Avicii and Calvin Harris. However, it left me asking, “Where’s the party?”
Remixes of Jason Derulo’s “It Girl” and Lady Gaga’s “You and I” never find their right footing and Danny Verde’s Gaga mix of her ballad stuck her vocals in peanut butter while the beat has left it behind.
The label was good to leave Spears’ “Til the World Ends” alone as it has enough weight to be a great party song and that chant alone needs no help. Such restraint is barely held through the rest of the album — and there are 24 tracks. Alexandra Stan’s “Mr. Saxobeat” doesn’t suffer much from its extended mix and is a fine listen that doesn’t beat into your head like a jackhammer.
Steve Aoki’s “Earthquakey People (The Sequel)” is absolute torture without remix, but it’s also representative of the album — soulless and pumped up without reason.
The other barely saving grace for this bit is deadmau5’s entry at the very end. “Raise Your Weapon” doesn’t rape your ears with a sonic force. It calms the energy but still goes into erratic directions that are fascinating. Otherwise, create your own dance mix if you need a party.
One and half stars.
(NOTE:This is a slightly longer version of the mix than on the album.)
And the beat goes on
We all know Tony Moran is one heck of a DJ, but he proves it in heaps as he headlines the music for the Troy Sands Remembrance Dance Party, in honor of the late DJ who made quite the impact on both the local and national dance music scenes. Donations are suggested to benefit Sands’ favorite charity, the Parkland Foundation.
Deck the halls with some ‘Tuna’
The people of Tuna, Texas suffer through yard-decorating contests and a theater production gone awry in A Tuna Christmas. Is it bad to laugh through it all to forget our own holiday trauma?
DEETS: Casa Manana, 3101 West Lancaster Ave. Fort Worth. Through Nov. 20. $50–$70. CasaManana.org.
Every week I get at least one CD or digital track from the next Britney/Gaga/Rihanna and so forth. There are lots of dance diva or pop princess wannabes out there and many of them come my way because they hope to hit the gay market. I don’t blame them. We love our dance music. But with so many aspirants out there, it’s tough to muddle through the mediocre and find who sticks out.
In the new Shabby Shriek column, we’ll take a look at one female singer at a time, post a track(s), maybe a video, some vital info from websites or social netowrks and let you decide if she’s Shab or Fab. We may throw a guy in here and there, but trust me, the ladies outweigh the men big time in this area.
Oh, and thanks to colleague Chance who loves him some dancey divas for days. He assisted with the concept.
This week, I received Skylar Grey’s “Invisible” remixes — seven (count them, seven!) different versions of a song from her upcoming album of the same name. This reminded me that I had received another single earlier this summer. Come to find out, I also have eight remixes of her song “Dance Without You.”
Once you recover from last night’s MetroBall, then you have a full day of Razzle Dazzle with today’s street festival. The day starts with the Sidewalk Sale and Fair where merchants once again offer discounts on your shopping excursions. The cool part will be the vintage auto show.About 50 autos from Classic Chassis Car Club will be parked along Cedar Springs Road until 4 p.m.
The night picks up when the Street Festival gets underway featuring live performances by Cheer Dallas, The Bright, Uptown Players, Chaz Marie, the Gary Floyd Trio and more. DJs Mickey Briggs and Tim Pfleuger provide dance music all night. All that will be highlighted by the return of Cazwell on the mainstage. And there is still all the goings-on in the bars and Midway of carnival games, a mechanical bull and an obstacle course. This could be like gay Wipeout.
DEETS: Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Streets. Sidewalk sale 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Street Festival 7 p.m.–1 a.m. Free. RazzleDazzleDallas.com.
2011 has already been an impressive year for major music releases: Adele and Jennifer Hudson’s strong sophomore albums have impressed, and Lady Gaga’s third is on the horizon.
But these relative newcomers aren’t scaring off pop and rock veterans. R.E.M. just released its 15th studio album, Collapse Into Now, and Britney Spears is halfway along with her seventh, Femme Fatale. Ultimately, it’s the hard rockers who prove their metal, while the pop princess struggles.
Spears declared Fatale “a club album,” as if that’s her excuse for putting out drivel. So be it: Fatale praises dancing, cocktails and sex, making her the voice of a generation of aimless twinks everywhere. While the production behind it is top notch, the CD is held back musically by two things — bad lyrics and Spears.
Opening with her single “Till the World Ends,” she sets the dance tone with a strong beat, but the moment she sings I notice that you got it / You notice that I want it / You know that I can take it to the next level baby, you just can’t help but think, “Really?” Ke$ha, credited here as a co-writer, is new enough that she can get away with such dumb sentiments; Spears should be striving for more at this point. Brit has always been her own worst enemy, and her poor judgment shows.
Using a joke of a pickup line and turning it into a hit, her team of producers and writers are on top of dance music trends, creating radio-ready tracks like “Hold It Against Me” while keeping the Britney formula intact. Instead of competing with current pop-stars sounds, Spears adheres to her own, jacks it up with modern, fresh beats and sticks to her guns with sex kitten tunes. Perhaps we can never expect much substance from her, but she knows at least who she is.
With some flat out dance songs, the first half is stronger than the second; that’s when Fatale peters out. “How I Roll” is a hot mess of vocal effects and pedestrian “bum-de-dum” skatting while her collaboration with Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am on “Big Fat Bass” is downright embarrassing, especially as she repeats I can be the treble, you can be the bass to a painful, idiotic degree.
There are moments that break from the pack. “Inside Out” delivers a surprisingly crisper voice. She’s not a great vocalist, but we get a glimpse of some actual prowess here that isn’t hard on the ears. The final track “Criminal” follows suit. We’re not pounded with the song; instead, it contains some nice intricacies and has the most narrative. Musically, it’s fresh with actual guitar touches. Is that a pan flute in there? I wish she’d take this direction more. It’s not so bad to hear an actual story.
Femme Fatale is a nice workout album, but Spears remains trapped by heavy production. We always hope she’s smarter than that, but Fatale doesn’t lend itself to brilliance, only to working up a sweat on the dancefloor.
R.E.M. rediscovers itself with Collapse. Gone is the overwrought tone of late, which has been in apparent search of recapturing Out of Time. Letting go of those expectations, R.E.M. is back to delivering the edge of their early days, And we feel fine.
The band launches the CD with the raucous and strong “Discoverer” and “All the Best.” The flat-out abandon Mike, Michael and Peter play with here is a harbinger of mostly good things to come. “UBerlin” suffers from some underproduction, but the fourth track, “Oh My Heart,” is a beautiful song of pain. I came home to a city half erased is a simple but devastating line, yet sung without sadness. The band doesn’t spend emotion needlessly here and still gets a point across.
What is funnily unnerving is Stipe’s voice. Most noticeable on “It Happened Today,” he sounds older, which will remind early fans they are getting older, too. But the wisdom behind it is comforting, like when your father first talks to you as a fellow adult, not as a child.
I can’t quite figure out what the message of “Mine Smell Like Honey” is, but with lyrics Climb a mountain, climb it steeper, steeper / Dig a hole, dig it deeper, deeper / Track a trail of honey through it all, I feel like my imagination is allowed free rein to interpret it. The energy is infectious but again, underproduction cuts into Stipe’s vocals. He sounds muffled, being swallowed by drums and guitars.
Initially I wanted to hate “Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter” for it’s ridiculous title and it’s opening line I feel like an alligator, climbing up the escalator, but it recalls that vivaciousness of “It’s the End of the World As We Know It,” followed by the equally strong “That Someone Is You.”
Going for a slower finale with “Me Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I” and the spacey “Blue,” the album has a lackluster finish. After a rowdy ride, R.E.M. opts for a poignant, slower ending.
Collapse allows us to remember what R.E.M. can still do. With the help of friends like Eddie Vedder, Peaches and Hidden Cameras’ gay frontman Joel Gibb, the band has found its mojo. They probably didn’t think they lost it, but listeners had. That should likely change.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.
Let’s face it: The gays like their dance music. That makes the industry ripe for countless Madonna-Britney-Gaga wannabes and one-hit wonders. (You should count the number of remix singles by “divas” that pass through the desk of music writers without actual albums attached to them.)
Jacinta Brondgeest may easily be categorized as just another girl on the dancefloor, but don’t sell her short. She’s brimming with substance.
“I try to be involved in so many aspects of the music-making process,” she says. “I love getting into the production part of it and also, I think what set’s me apart is I create and write my own music. Songwriting is precious to me. I’m always working on different facets.”
Going by only her first name (or her nickname, Jac), Jacinta isn’t just the product of DJs and producers. Instead of leaving her musical career in the hands of others and risking flash-in-the-pan status, Jacinta has been taking steps to fashion a career on her own terms. Part of that includes her live show, which she brings to Sue Ellen’s Friday.
And after finding success in her adoptive homeland of Australia (she was born in Oregon, but her family moved Down Under when she was six weeks old), Jacinta returned to the U.S. in 2002 to give the music industry a try. She thrived in the hot music environment of Austin, but just weeks ago, relocated to Houston.
“Houston is such a bigger landscape for us and more conducive to the style of music we play,” she says.
When Jacinta produced her first EP, Dedicated to a Stranger, in 1996, she decided that if her money was behind her own work, she should start her own label. Thus was born Chunky Music, named after her habit of sampling big chunks of music into her own. After attaining distribution in Australia, she put America in her sites.
“The label encapsulates everything I do, which essentially is pop-rock,” she says. “We do piano, vocals, electronica and remixes, hence our huge dance catalog. And now we’re tri-coastal and based out of Los Angeles, Houston and Australia.”
When the beat goes down, Jacinta also creates and produces meditation music. She admits making 2009’s Past Life Meditation was easy.
“The process of putting the music together was different, but it was an easier project because the creativity was all instrumental,” she says. “I think meditation is a wonderful thing and it was very enjoyable putting that music together.”
Naturally, she found a gay audience with her dance music. Jacinta booked high profile Pride gigs in Australia, Seattle, Austin and the Folsom Street Festival in San Francisco. Her song, “Keep it a Secret,” became a gay anthem of sorts to the audiences who saw her perform it.
“I wrote that in 2007 and it just resonated with the gay community when I performed it so those audiences are very important to me,” she says. “The song reminds people to be uniquely yourself and finding the courage to be that person.”
Sue Ellen’s may not be the first place for live performances of dance music, but that doesn’t worry Jacinta. She’s had her share of lesbian audiences with her first band Maiden Voyage. She says that all-girl bands always get those venues. So how does she identify? Well, she responds in that coy pop star way.
“Well, it depends on whom I’m sleeping with,” she laughs.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.
THE BOI AND THE COWBOY | Generations collide when Cazwell, right, and Cowboy Jeff Olson of the Village People bring their very gay music to the Cotton Bowl on Thursday, Feb. 3.
Musicians including Cazwell and Jeff Olson of the Village People head to Texas for a big gay Super Bowl party — although neither is all that excited about the game
All’s well that Cazwell
Who knew it just takes a popsicle to rise to stardom? Just ask Katy Perry. Or Cazwell, whose colorful music video for “Ice Cream Truck” became the gay anthem of last summer. With hot dancers and sexualized frozen confections, it has an infectious beat and a sense of joy that combined to make it a huge hit for the artist.
Just don’t expect the Ice Cream Truck Boys to join Cazwell when he’s in town next week for XLV Party, a three-day event inside a 60,000-square-foot climate-controlled tent on the field of the Cotton Bowl. The festivities kick off with a super-gay night of entertainment on Thursday. And even with the likes of Lady Bunny, DJ Inferno and the iconic Village People sharing stage time, Cazwell plans to bring it.
Describing himself as what would result if Biggie Smalls ate Donna Summer, Cazwell has combined the energy of dance music with the soul of hip-hop for a fun, modern sound that is all about getting people to have fun and dance.
“I’m going to turn it out. It’s going to be a high-energy show,” he says. “I’m going to do a combination of my dance songs but I also just want to kick back and wrestle with some beats and some rhymes. I think people will get to know me a little better as an artist.”
XLV Party will mark Cazwell’s second appearance in Dallas in less than a year and he’s anxious to come back.
“I was in Dallas last summer. It was really, really good. I was very surprised by the turnout. I wasn’t expecting so many fans,” he says. “We did a meet-and-greet that lasted three hours.”
His fan base has grown exponentially since “Ice Cream Truck,” but he still remembers the days when even Lady Gaga couldn’t get a reaction from a New York crowd.
“We did a song together at a club called Family. She’d always been kind of eccentric, but really down-to-earth. We had this stage that was like the size of a door, but she took it seriously. She crammed two dancers up there and then I got up there and she said, ‘I’m going to throw you to the ground and ride you like I’m fucking you and the audience is going to go crazy,’” he recalls. The gimmick landed with a thud.
“Somewhere there’s footage of it, but I can’t find it. The funny thing about it is that we really didn’t get the reaction we thought we were going to get. Nobody knew who she was so they just kind of looked at us with their arms folded. Like great, here’s another club kid with a song. Six months later, everybody knew who Lady Gaga was.”
Cazwell has garnered a loyal following on the New York club scene and has broken out with hit songs like, “I Seen Beyonce at Burger King” and “All Over Your Face,” but “Ice Cream Truck” is really where things clicked with a larger audience. And it almost didn’t happen.
“I didn’t want to write a new song; I was feeling really lazy. But a friend was pressuring me,” he says. “I wrote it for this movie called Spork, which won a bunch of awards for the Tribeca Film Festival and is going nationwide in May. My friend said he wanted a beat that sounded like an ice cream truck. We did the whole thing in like 45 minutes. It was just really, really easy.”
He wasn’t going to do anything with it until his manager suggested he make a quick video “to the song to get my face out there. It made me think of summertime and the hot Latin guys in my neighborhood. We all know a bunch of guys, dancers from the club scene so we invited them all over. No one was paid. We’re all friends and they just wanted to be a part of it.”
The video become a sensation across Facebook and video sites like YouTube, and with it came legions of new fans. But that’s OK … for now.
“I think that right now I’m in a good time in my life because I think the people that come up to me are genuine fans. I think when you get more famous, people want to meet you just because you’re famous. That could get tedious. I’m sure people go up to Lady Gaga just because she’s Lady Gaga, not because they respect her music,” Cazwell says.
“I feel right now that people are being genuine with me. I hope they’re people I’ve had a positive effect on because when people tell me that, it really makes me feel really good.”
And as for his excitement over the Super Bowl? Well, not so much. Cazwell admits he’s not a football fan — or a fan of any sport for that matter.
“I’m not passionate about sports at all. I don’t get it. I see sports on the news and wonder how that’s a news story. It’s just a game!” he says.
That’s all right. We see him as more a concessions guy anyway … like, the ice cream truck.
— Steven Lindsey
Despite the cheeky allure of the Village People, the concept band is nothing to laugh at. After 34 years, the quintessential disco band still gets audiences to do the “Y.M.C.A.” dance. A Rolling Stone cover, a Walk of Fame star and million-selling albums are nothing to sniff at.
Jeff Olson jumped onboard after the peak of the Village People’s popularity in the late 1970s, but he’s still enjoying the ride three decades later.
“Our first and foremost obligation is to just entertain,” he says. “We are obligated to do it and I’d say we do it very well.”
As a VP veteran, Olson sounds less like a music star and more like an elder slacker. He has a relaxed, cool inflection as he talks up his favorite classic rock bands and will say “man” after most everything. He’s the kind of guy you could kill a few hours with, as long as a beer and maybe something to smoke are handy.
The People don’t talk much about the sexuality of its members, but it’s hard to ignore the impact the group had on the gay community in the ’70s.
After the band floundered in the ’80s when Olson joined to replace original VP Cowboy Randy Jones, the gay audience stuck around.
“I don’t think we’ve had any change with the gay fans. They have always been very loyal and we’re still very grateful about that,” he says. “We’ve done lots to increase our other fans but really, nobody gives a shoot. Who cares anymore about gay or straight thing? We’re on this earth for very short time.”
At 60, Olson feels great and is obviously in shape to do the dance moves, but if it were up to him, he’d stay home. Still, the fans drive him to keep entertaining.
“I hate being on the road,” he admits. “When you live out of a suitcase, so much sucks like trying to get through TSA these days. I love being home, but we really love what we do.”
Where each Village Person represented a distinctive male archetype of gay fantasy, Olson is coy about the popularity of his cowboy image — though as any weekend at the Round-Up Saloon would prove, cowboys are a sexy commodity in Dallas. Olson won’t say if his cowboy is more popular with the boys than the others, but he lets out what sounds like a proud chuckle.
“Honestly I do not know and I don’t care,” he says.” The audiences react differently to all of us. We’re introduced individually so the reaction changes all the time. It’s always all good.”
The irony of Olson coming with the Village People for the very gay night of the Super Bowl party is that sports and crowds aren’t his thing.
“Nah, I don’t follow football,” he says. “And you wanna know a secret? I’m paranoid about crowds. I don’t do well with them and I need space. I don’t like signing autographs because folks don’t do the things they should do as a human being. But one on one I’m good with.”
Despite getting a few things off his chest, Olson mostly wants to remind that the Village People don’t necessarily stand for anything … but they will make you dance.
— Rich Lopez
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.
Perhaps one of the perks of being in this biz is the opportunity to check out products and shows and music before they hit the general public. We review and then offer our opinions and that’s that. But one item was offered to us that leaped to the top of the Christmas list. OK, it’s pink, but that’s part of the charm.
When AblePlanet Linx Audio sent our senior editor Tammye Nash a sample of their Extreme gaming foldable active noise-canceling headphones (with Linx Audio), we were both oohing and ahhing over the whimsical pink color and Burberry-ish plaid accents. Initially, they looked like the stuff kids plastic toys are made of and the pink paint chipped off upon opening. Bummer.