Rufus Wainwright: The gay/Gaga interview

In this week’s edition of the Voice, we review Rufus Wainwright’s new CD of pop music, which comes out Tuesday. But you can read even more about the gay singer right now with this interview by Chris Azzopardi.

BACK IN THE GAME

There are bad romances, and then there’s the kind that Rufus Wainwright had during the making of his latest album, Out of the Game. The troubadour got smitten with super-producer Mark Ronson, who added a pop bend to Wainwright’s classical leanings. Love at first sight? Just about.

“One day, we finally hung out at this party — at the U.N., of all places — and we were just completely enamored of each other,” Wainwright says. “Needless to say, we went into the studio and struck up not only a great musical relationship but a great friendship … and, at least from my end, a huge crush.”

And the singer doesn’t just give his love away: He recently slammed Lady Gaga for being “predictable and boring,” setting off a media (and gay mafia) frenzy.

In our interview, after the jump, Wainwright talked about those comments, the eyes that comforted him during his mother’s death and the evolution of his gayness.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

ALBUM REVIEW: Of Montreal, Seal, The Twilight Sad, Metallica, Ultra Dance 13

Pop falters while rock and folk ascend to strong releases

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Of Montreal
Paralytic Stalks
Polyvinyl Records

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
Reprise Records

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
Fatcat Records

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.

Three stars.

Various Artists
Ultra Dance 13
Ultra

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.)

—  Rich Lopez

Super Bowl goes gay with ads, halftime show

The NFL might want to consider changing the name of the Super Bowl to the Faaabulous Bowl. At least if last night’s game was any indicator.

It’s not enough that it featured hunky QBs Tom Brady and Eli Manning (and could have Drew Brees or Tim Tebow), running around in Spandex with other muscle bears. And there was of course Madonna’s mega-gay halftime show with scantily clad gladiators and cross-dressing scruffy guys and Nikki Minaj, who kinda-sorta seems like a drag queen to me. Even the first half recap was set to “Edge of Glory” by Gaga.

No, the real gayness was in the commercials. Watch a few of them below  …

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

And the nominees for the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards are …not Dallas Voice

Today, GLAAD announced its 23rd annual media nominees covering ground from movies to television to journalism. Texas didn’t get a whole lot of love this time (does it ever?), but it did get in. For the Outstanding TV Journalism – News Magazine category, local NBC affiliate KXAS TV-5 snagged a nomination for its “GLBT in Texas” Spotlight DFW series which even had a segment devoted to the Dallas Voice. So, we’re kinda in.

For Outstanding Music Artist, San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma is in fine company with fellow nominees, MEN, Lady Gaga, Hunx and his Punx and Beverly McClellan. GIAC was nominated for its 2011 release, Exits and All the Rest.

The A-List: Dallas did not get a nod for Outstanding Reality Program.

For a complete list of nominees, click here or watch the trailer after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Mac daddy

BearDance guest DJ Sean Mac keeps the big boys moving

seanmacface_HCB

BEAR NECESSITIES | Atlanta-based DJ Sean Mac mixes movie scores with tribal beats for his Dallas debut at BearDance Friday.

The men at BearDance are building a solid reputation for bringing in marquee DJs for their events, as their inaugural 2012 dance proves. Atlanta DJ Sean Mac comes to Dallas with his mix of house music, classic disco and even movie scores.

For someone who got his first (unofficial) gig at a gentlemen’s club at the age of 15, Mac has come a long way — playing the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, New Year’s Eve in Sydney and even for Lady Gaga for Wonder World weekend at DisneyWorld. He now tells us what Dallas bears can look forward to as he helms the turntables and assures us that he won’t be distracted by his smartphone while spinning — maybe.

— Rich Lopez

The Loft
1135 S. Lamar St. Jan. 13. 9 p.m. $15.
BearDance.org.

Dallas Voice:  Have you played Dallas before?  Mac: No, but I’ve met a lot of wonderful guys from there on Facebook and BigMuscleBears.com and I attended Texas Bear Round Up in 2007, so I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be a fun time!

What are you looking forward to here?  I hear they grow ’em big in Texas!  Seriously, though, I’m looking forward to spinning a really good set. The year started off very well in Denver, where I followed Tony Moran with a set on New Year’s Eve. The guys had the energy turned up to 11 and, knowing the guys with BearDance, I’m sure this event will be awesome.

How did you hook up with BearDance?  Through Facebook. BearDance started with me seeing pictures of friends at one of their events and the conversation started.

Werq it! So what can Dallas bears expect from a Sean Mac set?  My goal is to become one with a dancefloor, so I keep the energy up with stuff that we all want to dance to. I’m also pretty animated. It’s kind of a joke, but I have to dance while I’m DJing. Laugh if you must — it works!

Oh we will laugh … but with you, not at you. What’s this about movie scores in your mix?  Vocal, tribal and disco house are my main genres, but my flavor is cinematic. I collected film scores when I was younger and that seeps into my sets literally and figuratively. My latest Podcast opens with a recent remix of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka, for instance. That’s very much a nerd response, so please print “fun and slutty” instead.

You got it. All right, we have some songs we’ll want you to play…  That’s a tricky one. It’s like flying an airplane with a backseat driver. I take requests under consideration, but I have to worry about keeping everyone happy, not just the person making the request.

Fine. We’ll slip in a phat cash tip. What’s your magic track?  I have a few songs that work particularly well, but it depends on the event as to which one might get played.  There’s a sort of magic associated with the Almighty version of “Perfect Day,” and mine and Bryan Reyes’ remix of Leona Lewis & Avicii’s “Collide” is an audience favorite.

The real question is, do you check your Scruff while DJing?  I try to keep the phone off while DJing. But if you see a hot guy on the floor, there’s that inescapable urge to look him up and message him instantly, so you won’t forget.

You are so right about that.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

2011 Year in Review: Concerts

Minaj-89

Nicki Minaj

The ladies ran the world this year — or at least the concert stage, whether dives or arenas.

1. Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae (Verizon Theatre). These two crashed the venue with the year’s most amazing live performances. Monae, in all her spastic glory, ran across the stage and into the audience, proving why she is the next Prince. And with her futuristic-themed album Archandroid, her band was loud and live minus any apparent electronic help. Mars did the same but recalled old-school showmanship, channeling Marvin Gaye, James Brown and Smokey Robinson as he and his own band filled the place with raucous horns, slamming percussion and Mars’ charisma.

2. Nicki Minaj (American Airlines, pictured). Britney sputtered before her concert hit its stride halfway through, but Minaj brought it from the get-go. With military precision, she and her troupe marched and danced while the audience roared, spanking the American Airlines Center as if she were the headliner, making everyone in the crowd her bitch. And all were on board. Her ovation with Spears was proof that Minaj’s star has arrived.

3. Jackie Hall (Lakewood Bar & Grill). A surprise at the May edition of Twist LGBT, stepped in with local band One Night Stand to end the night with a bang. Even as the crowd dwindled, Hall went full bore, working up those left into a frenzy with powerful covers. This lady sings the blues and rock and pop, but turns them out like no other.

4. Scissor Sisters (American Airlines Center). There is no way to steal a show from Lady Gaga, but the Sisters didn’t need to, giving a workout of a show. Ridiculously pumped Jake Shears burned a million calories with his high-energy antics (and that ass-reveal, a great bonus). Ana Matronic held her own as Shears’ equal with funk and sass. True fans were breathless.

5. Brandi Carlile (Granada Theatre). Without much fanfare, Carlile and her legions of fans in the mid-sized Granada were like one entity fused together. Her fans gave her space to sing softly, to go unplugged and to simply love her. She gave it right back with both grit and tenderness that were triggering all the ladies’ pheromones.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

— R.L.               

—  Kevin Thomas

Spend Thanksgiving with Lady Gaga

Ga ga gobble gobble

After the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie have been gobbled up, the next tradition is to plop in front of the TV for the rest of the day. For music fans and little monsters, ABC will air A Very Gaga Thanksgiving which the network describes as “an intimate look inside the life of Lady Gaga as she performs, in front of a small audience, eight songs including a duet with guest Tony Bennett.” As seen in the clip, she performs “Bad Romance” with what looks like a mutant sweet potato microphone.

DEETS: WFAA-TV Channel 8. 8:30 p.m. ABC.com.

—  Rich Lopez

LISTEN: Soundclips from Lady Gaga’s holiday EP

If you haven’t decided yet on purchasing Lady Gaga’s A Very Gaga Holiday EP, why not take a quick preview here. She released four tracks yesterday which perfectly coincides with Thursday’s airing of A Very Gaga Thanksgiving on ABC. For Gaga, it was a rather quiet release.

These here are just snippets of the tracks but she’s sounding pretty good on the Christmas tunes “White Christmas” and “Orange Colored Sky.” The release also includes live versions of “You and I” and “The Edge of Glory.”

Lady Gaga – A Very Gaga Holiday by Interscope Records

—  Rich Lopez

Cher is the latest gay icon to get a comic book

I’m not sure who’s running things over at Bluewater Productions comics, but they know their gay audiences. Following up on previous celebrity bio-comics like Lady Gaga, Madonna and Ellen DeGeneres, the publisher announced today that Cher will get the comic treatment this December. Her story will be the latest issue of their series Female Force. The 32-page comic will feature art by Zach Bassett and Warren Montgomery. The cover is by DC Comics Joe Philips. From BlueWater Productions:

Writer Marc Shapiro said Cher’s life and career “reads like a comic book.” “The clothes, the times, the attitudes of the decades she’s lived through. The different styles of music she’s been involved in. So much of what Cher has experienced is so flamboyant, over the top and just plain out there,” said Shapiro. “She has been very much the real life equivalent of a superhero, and writing about Cher, to a large degree, has been just about letting my imagination go.”

With no specific date mentioned, Bluewater says to expect the comic in the month of December at comic book shops, Barnes & Noble bookstores and Amazon.

—  Rich Lopez

BIG Lang theory

K.D. Lang, on her new CD, Lady Gaga and her burgeoning butchness

KD-Lang

BUTCHING IT UP | Lang, nearing 50, is embracing her inner ... daddy?

K.D. Lang is manning up, thanks to the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and other sexpots of pop who shoot whipped cream from their chests and ride disco sticks. The longtime gay activist, who turns 50 in November, made a rebellious decision to boost her butchness, evident in the video for “I Confess,” the lead single from her disc Sing it Loud.

She comes to the Meyerson on Tuesday with her band the Siss Boom Bang, but before the show, she dished about the album’s evolution, why being the first out country star doesn’t matter and her work with Glee.

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: Why did you approach Sing it Loud with a fuller sound and, for the first time in 20 years, a band?  Lang: It just seemed to be the right thing to do. It was just what I was feeling. I was working with Joe [Pisapia], writing songs, and it came time to record them and I just felt like the band was the right way to approach it — very live and spontaneous. We put the band together and it was beyond my wildest dreams what transpired.

On “I Confess,” you sing the lyric I’ll be your daddy. How do you think that line would’ve been received had you recorded this song 20 years ago when you first came out? Probably the same as now. I think there’s going to always be people who feel uncomfortable with it and there’s always going to be people who are titillated by it. You just have to know that’s going to be the case for a long time.

Would you say you’re embracing your butchness more than you used to? Yeah, this music really asks for it. I also think that the aesthetic nature of today’s music, with people like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry — not that it’s new, it certainly isn’t; I know better than that — is being very exaggerated I thought, I can exaggerate, too!

What do you make of the way the music business has shifted in the way it sells music? I think it’s boring because everything is so overexposed. But it’s fine; it is what it is. In terms of music, there is always going to be a place for someone who can sing and someone who can communicate with an audience.

Did you ever feel pressure to conform in your career? That would depend on what I wanted to reap from my music. I’ve always been quite sure that I wanted to have a more artistic career and a career of longevity, so in that respect, no. I’ve made decisions that have nurtured my art rather than my public awareness or my celebrity. That’s been self-determined. So no, I never felt the pressure.

If you hadn’t come out, how do you imagine your life and career now? I can’t imagine, because I was always out and coming out wasn’t really a big deal for me. But it certainly made things easier. I can’t imagine what it would be like, but at the same time it’s definitely made my life easier just because it kind of stripped away the question marks in the audience’s minds. It took away any pretense or question.

There was a big hoopla when Chely Wright came out as the first gay country star, because some argued that you beat her to it. What did you think about all that? I don’t know who Chely Wright is, but I don’t care. I mean, to a whole generation of people who know Chely Wright, they probably don’t know who I am. So to them it is the first country star to come out. I don’t really care who’s the first, who’s the last, because before me there were a lot of people that helped get me to a place to feel confident and comfortable with coming out.

Last year you lent your voice to a song on a Glee soundtrack. Would you ever do the show? I don’t really watch Glee, but I know it’s very popular and gay-friendly, which is great. And Jane Lynch is hilarious! If they asked me I would consider it, but I’m really happy that I could be a part of something that’s supportive and promotes alternative and varying lifestyles.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas