Concert Notice: Xiu Xiu supports Swans in Sept.

The last time Xiu Xiu was down this way, the Crown and Harp on Lower Greenville was still known as The Cavern. Now the eclectic indie popsters return to Dallas this fall. They support Swans at Trees on Sept. 16. The show is put on by Tactics Productions.

The band tours in support of its latest release Always which was released earlier this year. A strange blend of pop and avant-garde, the sound is distinctly Xiu Xiu led by the equally multifarious and queer frontman Jamie Stewart, pictured.

Tickets for Swans/Xiu Xiu go on sale June 1 here.

I never seem to understand their videos and they lean toward a quirky type of gruesome, but I can never stop watching. The same goes for their latest video “Honeysuckle” which you can watch after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

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

Spin magazine posts special report on homophobia in indie rock

Leisha Hailey cried 'homophobia' when she was booted off a Southwestern flight. Other LGBT musicians have endured many different types of attacks while moving forward with their art.

Following the Leisha Hailey/Southwest Airlines incident, Spin magazine’s Rich Juzwiak wrote this piece on homopobia toward LGBT musicians, mostly independent ones. The article wasn’t just sparked by the plane episode (by the way, have you seen this?), but also by the bashing incident against Violent Lovers band members Brontez Purnell and Adal Castellon at Club Paradiso in Oakland in August and a few other accounts of out musicians suffering literally for their art.

The piece is compelling with perspectives by the likes of Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, Hunx and his Punx’s Seth Bogart and MEN’s JD Samson, all who have graced our pages or blog as well. While it may not answer questions or find solutions to homophobic tendencies in the industry, it does paint a picture of what smaller queer bands have to endure just to play music. From SPIN: ‘

Purnell, Hailey, and Grey are far from the first gay artists to encounter serious resistance as a result of their sexuality, of course. In fact, if you ask most out musicians about their experiences with homophobia, you’ll hear a story that will break your heart. I did, at least, when collecting anecdotes for this piece. Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt was pelted with bottles, rocks, and slurs outside a club in Philadelphia in the 1990s. Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart was called a “fag” and had lit cigarettes thrown at him onstage in 2003 in Austin, Texas. After Holly Miranda recently played her song “Pelican Rapids,” about Proposition 8, the 2008 California amendment restricting marriage as only between a man and a woman, she was confronted by a “big, burly door guy” who said that “if I got with him, he would make me do a 360,” says the singer-songwriter. “I was like, ‘I think you mean a 180. You’re more right than you know.’”

I would love to have heard input by the somewhat elder statesmen of LGBT music like Melissa Etheridge or Elton John. Does the homophobia go away once your big or is it just easier to shield away from with awards and gazillions of dollars.

Be sure and check it out.

 

—  Rich Lopez

Xiu Xiu covers Rihanna

As a clever if not strange B-side, queer fronted band Xiu Xiu released a rather eclectic redux of Rihanna’s hit “Only Girl (in the World).” I doubt it will help you get in the mood for her Friday show at AAC, but give it a listen. Singer Jamie Stewart, in strange ways, continues to prove his weird brilliance.

According to the press release, the cover “was inspired by a night at backlot Durham, N.C. lesbian bar Steele Blue—watching all the southern dykes go crazy on the dance floor when the song dropped. A dissonant string quartet backed by an undeniable dance beat, the gender-bend of the cover is furthered with a quote from Detroit Grand Pubahs’ song ‘Sandwiches’ — a song beloved by Stewart for its unintended gender screw and one that is just as filthy as Rihanna’s.”

The A-side “Daphny” depicts the true story of Stewart’s friend “who — following an arrest for shoplifting — was raped by an officer while in police custody. There is nothing to say about this that is not already reflected in the 7-inch’s cover title. The outro’s refrain ‘enjoy life, enjoy life, enjoy this life!’ is the back of a hand wiping away tears of hatred, fear, disbelief and stunned empathy; what else can one do but ‘take a photo of your friend vomiting on your head’? The song is an attempt to give support, to accuse and most of all to live in spite of life.”

“Daphny” is also the first song where new members Zac Pennington and Sam Mickens joined Stewart in writing a Xiu Xiu tune.

While I’m kinda fascinated by “Daphny,” I’m still making up my mind on the Rihanna cover. Listen to them here.

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Xiu Xiu frontman Jamie Stewart’s new video with his side project Former Ghosts

Freddy Ruppert and Jamie Stewart of FG

Jamie Stewart has a thing for that which grosses us out. Remember this video I posted in which his Xiu Xiu bandmate Angela Seo performed her gagging talents? That’s always a great one before lunch. Now, the gay musician and his side project band Former Ghosts bring us this video for their song “Taurean Nature” from the forthcoming album New Love.The video was posted by Pitchfork.

Stewart bandmate Freddy Ruppert’s day starts off a bit differently than most people’s in this video. In sequined Elvis garb, Ruppert pees, gorges, doesn’t like cute kitties and gets kinda naked. It’s all so strange but also a glorious kind of train wreck I couldn’t stop watching. However, I am swearing off strawberry milk.

—  Rich Lopez

Concert notice: Xiu Xiu to play The Cavern in March

Bi musician Jamie Stewart brings his Xiu Xiu to town.

OK, you have some time to plan on this one. Xiu Xiu‘s tour stops in Dallas at the Cavern on Lower Greenville Mar. 11. The show comes just days after their newest release Dear God, I Hate Myself which drops Feb. 23. Get a sampling of the avant-garde popsters, fronted by bi-rocker Jamie Stewart, by checking out their track, “Gray Death,” from the new album here. Stewart produced the album with Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier. However, on Xiu Xiu’s blog, Stewart mentioned in late December, he is working with Dallas producer and musician John Congleton of the Paper Chase on his next record. Whether that’s a solo record or Xiu Xiu release is unclear.

They are releasing Dear God in varied special editions. You can order on their site your choice of special edition CD with either chocolate made by the band or with a Xiu Xiu for Life t-shirt written in blood. Yeah, real blood.

While you make your decision on that, spend some time looking over the kinky concert poster for the tour after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez