FInal weekend for Caravaggio at the Kimbell

A dose of art history

Did you know that there are less than a 100 surviving Caravaggio works out there? Good thing the Kimbell snagged the exhibit. Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome displays more than 50 of the painter’s works, one of the largest exhibitions of his work in North America.

DEETS: Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth. Through Jan. 8. $14. KimbellMuseum.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Indie, airy

Self-releases from Dallas’ Brandon Hilton, Laura Ainsworth, others show indies in a post-iTunes age

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Nocturnal
Brandon Hilton
Two and a half stars
Followers love him; others love to hate, but Dallas-born Brandon Hilton backs up his faux-lebrity with some surprises in his second CD, Nocturnal. Although it’s not a concept album, Hilton keeps a proper tone befitting the title. The songs are dark, sometimes seedy, keeping true to his vision.

“Heartbeat” and “Heartbreaker” are catchy enough not to skip. Recalling ’80s New Wave sound, he has the earnestness of a modern Limahl from Kajagoogoo. (An obscure reference, maybe, but trust me.)

The beat kicks in on “Shadow,” but is completely overproduced and Hilton’s delivery is uninspired. Yet the track is the liveliest and sticks out above many of the other 14 tracks. The same is true with “So Ready,” though he feels more present here. The song has a silliness hovering with lyrics like your kiss is like a total eclipse / taking over my body/ makes me feel so naughty.

Despite those higher moments, the album misses marks on production and writing. The title track should have more impact, but is a key example of how the rest plays out. Hilton straddles a line between singing and talking and comes off lazy. He seems like he’s trying to skate by rather than let loose.

“Photoshop Friendship” and “Glamour Zombie” have nice ideas behind them with content, but despite pseudo high-energy beats, the songs drone. Hilton needs to work on not just building  his songwriting, but painting the right picture musically to go with the words.

Production values are all but absent. What could have been a decent track, “Need Your Love,” suffers by putting Hilton’s voice slightly under the music levels. I don’t hear what he’s singing — a mistake that is really only forgivable on a debut.

Hilton has some ways to go before superstardom, but I am admittedly surprised by what he has in his back pocket in Nocturnal.

music-1
ARIEL VIEW | Singer Ariel Aparacio drops an inspired collection of rocker tunes in his album ‘Aerials.’

Aerials
Ariel Aparicio
Three and a half stars
Recent OutMusic award winner Ariel Aparicio has opted to release Aerials on CD in August, following up positive response to his digital download album that dropped in March. A wise decision: Aerials wins with a lot of heart and clear talent and the more people know about it, the better.music-3

A minute-long intro immediately takes the listener on a ride as he ventures into the U2-ish “Love Left Bleeding.” Aparicio can rock but with beautiful sophistication — he’s not trying to blow our ears out. The attention to detail on the guitars here tickles them instead.

The gentleness in “Flowers” mixes a bit of Paul Simon and The Doors into his sound, but doesn’t suffer by losing to it. He brings in his own ethereal quality with his mysterious, raspy voice and floating backgrounds.

He displays his Latin roots on “Amor Sangrando” which isn’t his highest moment here. Although it doesn’t feel forced (“Look at me singing in Spanish!”), it’s ill-constructed. The music works, but his lyrics don’t seem to fit and as a closer, it plays as a gimmick.
But the album succeeds on many levels. Aerials isn’t just an album, it’s a book of songs that had me longing for the next track.

Keep it to Yourself
Laura Ainsworth
Three stars
Not so much queer as queer-based, Dallas’ Laura Ainsworth provides lush music-4material for any drag queen. Her jazzy cabaret collection in Keep it to Yourself is a little kooky at times, but a unique gem by the local cabaret performer.
The title track opens and immediately transports us to a posh dinner and dancing club with fancy-dressed women and men with cigars. Ainsworth and band play gorgeously together creating a charming, classic sound that would fit in any ’50s film with that club scene. I expected Rosemary Clooney or Bing Crosby to appear somewhere.
Props to producer Brian Piper and mixer Kent Stump for tying up package that gives due respect to Ainsworth’s voice while never faltering on the instruments, either. The horns are crisp and each drumbeat or guitar pluck is as obvious as it is subtle.
But Ainsworth is clearly the star. What she does with Johnny Mercer’s “Skylark” and Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” is magic. She gets a little derailed with obvious tracks “La Vie En Rose” and “Personality,” but it lends to a whimsical charm rather than detracting from the overall feel.
With Ainsworth’s flair for the dramatic and a sexy, sultry voice, if I don’t hear any of these tracks in any of the umpteen pageants coming up, I may just have to do one myself.
Not.

Blue Songs
Hercules & Love Affair
Moshi Moshi
One star

IN A BLUE MOOD | Hercules and Love Affair fall big time with sophomore album ‘Blue Songs.’ Even queer singer and Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke couldn’t save the day with his guest appearance.

The one signed band in this round-up, Hercules & Love Affair, not only dropped the ball with their second release Blue Songs, they weren’t even looking at it. Songs is such a disappointment compared to their impressive 2008 self-titled debut. This is a collection of dancey tracks intended for the dollar bin at used CD stores.

After the smash of “Blind,” with its muscular beat counterbalanced by Antony Hegarty’s delicate voice, my hopes were high for what H&LA’s mastermind Andy Butler would deliver here. But instead of going forward, he looked way back to all the wrong inspirations. The first single, “My House,” sounds like the bastard baby of LCD Soundsystem and Technotronic as told through the talent of a teenager. With dated samples music-5and rejected house beats, it’s simply sad.

Kim Ann Foxman’s vocals add nothing with a phoned-in performance of dullness. Even with guest vocals by Mark Pistel of Meat Beat Manifesto and gay singer Kele Okereke of Bloc Party, nothing is saved.

“Step Up” starts with a strong beat, but
Okereke’s usually sexy voice is lost on ridiculous lyrics and a repeated backing track. As if just pressing the play button, the song only frustrates.

This is repeated throughout the 14 tracks. The expired sound of Blue Songs brought nothing back from the glorious house music of a few decades back, but instead it just irks with its abundance of mediocrity.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Gadget update: Calyp app

I’m getting ready to convert my lame-o cell phone into an iPhone for Verizon, so it occurs to me I can use more apps than the few piling up on my limited-use 8-gig iPod Touch. I want stuff that’s useful, like those apps that perform instant price-checks or get your GPS quickly or get you laid while in the Alps. (OK, maybe that’s just wishful thinking.) And I’m thinkin’ about Calyp.

Considering how addicted most people already are to “liking” people and events on Facebook and retweeting the interests of their friends and followers, the new app Calyp has an intriguing premise. The idea is to sign up at Calyp.com or download the free app from the Apple store. If I understand it right, you then select your interests and hobbies (say, indie music or eating out). The site then pairs up its clients with your interests; if you like the item the client suggests — say, 20 percent off a dinner at your favorite restaurant — you simply share that will others in your social media network. You earn points for the number of hits and click-throughs you get as a result. Points accrue toward credit on a Visa debit card you can use anywhere.

Does it make you a bit of a shill? Mebbe. But if you really like the stuff, it’s a way to share your likes with others. It’s like Groupon, only you benefit from sharing it. (Just like Groupon does, come to think of it, only you don’t have to buy anything — others do.) And hey, if I can defer some of the cost of that new iPhone, all the better.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay NASCAR blogger says sport’s fans are more accepting of gays than gays are of NASCAR fans

Michael Myers, founder of Queers4Gears.com

As we found out when a certain lunch appointment canceled because “two of his employees are going to the races,” NASCAR returns to the Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. While we’re pretty sure these particular employees are straight, the lunch cancellation got Instant Tea to thinking, are there any gay NASCAR fans out there?

Well of course there are — and not just the closeted ones — but we never would’ve imagined that there’s an entire gay NASCAR-devoted website, especially one that doesn’t feature photos of drivers with their shirts off.

Queers4Gears.com, founded by Michael Myers in 2009, has been featured on ESPN.com and was named one of the top 50 NASCAR blogs in the country by SportsManagementDegrees.net. ESPN reported on Queers4Gears after Myers asked a driver a question during a press conference (watch the driver’s reaction in the clip below).

Queers4Gears.com boasts more than a thousand followers on Twitter, and the site currently features a preview of this weekend’s action at TMS. Elsewhere on the site, there are LGBT discounts for an upcoming race in Phoenix, merchandise for sale, and a list of charities including a Nevada AIDS organization. Here’s a snippet from the About section of Queers4Gears:

Q4G founder, Michael Myers, said that he started Q4G as an online home for Gay NASCAR fans. “But more importantly, I want to bring new fans to the sport.” Myers went on to say that NASCAR fans have been more accepting of him being gay than gay people have been accepting of his being a NASCAR fan.

“There are as many misconceptions and stereotypes about NASCAR fans as there are about gay people. I hope in some small way Queers4Gears can help to change that. This has been an incredible first year and I hope to build on the site’s success for years to come.”

—  John Wright

NOM: We Don’t Support The Murder Of Gay People (Even If Our Followers Do!)

NOM is EVER so pissed that people are calling them out for holding anti-gay rallies in which supporters freely wave signs calling for the murder of LGBT people.

“The New Hampshire Democratic Party has slurred NOM’s good name and the good people of New Hampshire who rightly believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “They’ve escalated their inflammatory rhetoric beyond their customary insulting charge of bigotry and discrimination, and now are actually saying that NOM and supporters of traditional marriage want to murder gays. It’s totally outrageous and should be condemned, as should all violence and threats of violence.”

“First of all, the lone sign that the NHDP mentions was not a NOM sign, but something briefly displayed by a single individual at a rally,” Brown said. “Secondly, NOM immediately told the individual to take the sign down because it was disgusting and not reflective of NOM’s message or mission: we love marriage and call on all our supporters to respond to incivility and threats with love and respect. NOM immediately issued both nationwide emails and a nationwide press release condemning the sign, as well as threats mounted by gay marriage radicals against NOM. What’s particularly interesting about the press release with its murder slur is that in their zeal to score political points, the Democratic Party has shown itself to be nothing more than a tool of national gay marriage groups.”

Miss Brown, we ALL saw the video. Your loyal devoted fan most definitely did NOT take his sign down, in fact he happily and proudly brandished it for the cameras of the Courage Campaign. Actually, since your Babble clearly DOES call for every homosexual to be put to death, (Glory! Praise His Name!), it’s shocking that you are denouncing the Word Of The Lord! “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

‘Barebacking’ Republican? Too good not to share!

John Fussle is a Republican running for county commissioner in Kosciusko County, Ind. He apparently uses Twitter to keep his supporters up to date on what he’s doing.

At least one of his Twitter followers — and probably many more — were shocked and maybe awed to see this Tweet from Fussle over the weekend: “Barebacking again in northern Indiana… Oh my goodness, I’m gonna be sore tomorrow!” (posted at 9:14 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, via Ping.fm)

Ummmm, excuse me?! After one of his Twitter followers clued him in to the “alternative” definition of barebacking, Fussle was more than a little flustered, tweeting: “OH MY GOODNESS!!! Seriously??? Wow. Let me clarify: I was on the back of a horse for the sole purpose of transportation.”

Read Mike Riggs’ story here at TheDailyCaller.com.

—  admin

Steve Holcomb is straight bear bait

A few months back Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell penned a piece for our Viewpoints page about Steven “Holcy” Holcomb, the straight Olympic bobsled champion who refreshingly appreciates his many gay fans. At the time McDonnell noted that there’s even a Facebook fan page called, “Bears for Steve Holcomb,” which now has 1,870 members.

McDonnell reports that on Friday, he got a chance to meet Holcomb face to face. Holcomb was in Fort Worth at a national conference for Advocare, a nutrition and sports supplement company that also lists Cowboys tight end Jason Witten among its clients. Holcomb had invited all his Facebook friends to come to the event at the Fort Worth Convention Center. McDonnell, who sent along the above photo, said this of the encounter:

Jason [my roommate] and I both got pictures, and he told Holcomb that we were the two who were texting him while he competed in Canada. He not only remembered that, he also said that he suspected that the texter was a guy because we didn’t disclose a lot of personal information or offer up a picture. But, in his words, “That’s cool.” I told him about the column I wrote for the Voice and he got a big smile out of that.

As McDonnell noted in his original column, it’s sure nice to see a straight athlete who isn’t so homophobic that he squirms at the thought of having gay followers. But I’m also here to tell you that you don’t have to be a bear to want Holcomb to drive your sled. On the other hand, if you like bears or being chased by bears, you may want to pick up some Advocare.

—  John Wright