Queer Music Reviews from QZE #17

These are CD and tape reviews that appeared in Queer Zine Explosion #17, published in August, 1999. All reviews by Larry-bob.

Remember, buy your books and CDs from local independent stores, not evil corporate chains or on-line mega-stores (the discount is equal to the postage at Amazon.com--so go to your local bookstore--you might actually meet someone.) Local stores can do special orders and get your books for you in days. Also request your local public library purchase books and CDs you like.

For ease of use, I have put all the new reviews in this file. For older reviews, see Queer Music Explosion and Music reviews from QZE 16.

Arthur Loves Plastic: Klondyke 5 CD.
Another full-length release from ALP, which is electronics whiz Bev S. and diva Lisa Moscatiello. The dance music’s bliss is balanced by the introspective vocals. "Our Diva" is about a singer who is secretly a lesbian - "after a tour of singing it straight/you would rush to the arms of your girl - the folksinger." "The New South" has a dub feel to it. Lyrics and MP3 versions can be accessed with a CD-ROM drive. Web: www.arthurlovesplastic.com

Behead the prophet n.l.s.l "Making craters where buildings stood" 7".

So far as I am concerned, Behead the Prophet are the only relevant hardcore band making music today. (I guess that means I'm an old out of touch fogey.) Seven songs of hi-tempo punk rock. Songs are "Have you heard the music," "There is a bomb in Gilead," "Making Craters Where Buildings Stood," "Transdimensional soldier," "Fire of Command, "253-425" (about being displaced by Seattle yuppies), and "The sick and the quaint." Lyrics are not so directly about queer topics as some of their other releases, though there is a note, "this is a queer band, homophobes go fuck yourselves." Lyric sheet folds out into a poster. (Sound Pollution, PO Box 17742, Covington, NY 41017)

Behead the prophet n.l.s.l/Thrones split 7".

Both band play a Blue Oyster Cult song (the Thrones (a one man band with multi-necked bass and drum machines) do Black Blade, and it's actually kind of pretty, while BtP does "Hot Rails to Hell". Then BtP plays two originals, Strange Electricity and I've got the time (lyrics out of context: "you're the boy worth waiting for.") Strange Electricity is actually kind of slow, but "I've got the time" is the hyperspeed assault we're used to from BtP. (Voice of the Sky, no address.)

Garrin Benfield: Demo for Telluride CD.

Fantastic singer-songwriter with a mix of acoustic guitar songs, some with full band, and some guitar with piano. The melodies and harmony vocals send chills. There's 11 songs on this well-recorded demo. "I Let You Go" is especially amazing, a rapidly picked song that shows off the kind of instrumental prowess that's rare these days. There are a lot of second-person lyrics (a case favored by many songwriters for its gender ambiguity), though when I saw him perfom live there was a more overtly queer song he did. (Garrin Benfield, 3447 18th St #2, San Francisco CA 94110 email: garrin@eighthnoterecords.com, web: www.eighthnoterecords.com)

Bootlickers: Universal Nancy CD.

The Bootlickers are three guys who got their start playing at a leather bar, and they've played plenty of pride festivals. The CD has four studio tracks, and three demo tracks, including a cover of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" which they change to "lickin," naturally. "Sure Of You" includes chants of "Nancy Boy - Nancy Drew." "Stephen" is a memory song about a dead friend. web: coop1.uns.tju.edu/~bootlickers/ (Mild Mannered Management, 333 South Camac St., Philadelphia, PA 19107)

Chin Ho: "Everything you know is wrong" CD.

Chin Ho is a melodic rock band that isn't afraid to tackle queer subject matter. "(I wish I was a) girl" plays around with gender over a percolating musical backing. "Song for a dead friend" is about a friend who died of AIDS. "Closet Case" is about tough guys who need to come out. I guess I've mostly touched on the queer-content songs, but it's all good. web: www.chinho.com (Good Citizen Records, PO Box 5373, Burlington, Vermont 05402)

Dirtbox: self-titled CD.

Antonia's the singer, Jesse plays bass, Di's the Drummer, and Churchill plays what sounds like a guitar but looks like a three-stringed bass - guess that's why they call it a "guitaresque thing." The music's mid-tempo rock, with a punk edge yet also a twang to it. A theme that runs through the CD is relationships with a fucked-up girl, as exemplified by the song title "Spooning with a strung out lover." Or check these lyrics from "Degredation of Independence": "I never thought I'd ever fuck a girl like you, but I do." (Dog Patch Records, PO Box 882944, SF CA 94188-2944. www.dog-patch.com)

Dirty Barby self-titled tape.

A preview of their forthcoming CD, "Coffee, Tea, Sodapop, Pee". Dirty Barby is four queers, two boys, two girls, from Orlando. The lead singer, Puce Glitz, performs in scary drag. The music is loud and punky, and Puce's voice isn't any prettier than her face. Definitely not easy listening. (email: dirtybarby@webtv.net web: www.dirtybarby.com )

Fagatron 7".

This band from Lincoln, Nebraska has since broken up (as has bassist Abe's next band Fashion Sense.) But fortunately there is this document of the two-member band, compsed of a drummer and a bassist. The songs are Sex for Warmth, Asskickatron, Billy the Kid (dedicated to Brandon Teena), Punk You, Planet Fag, and a cover of the B52s' Luv Shak (at least that's how these guys spell it.) Fortunately there's a lyric sheet so you can understand the ground glass vocals as you groove to the rhythm-heavy tracks. (Mo-tel, PO Box 94815, Lincoln, NE 68509. Also distroed by Heartcore.)

Fighter D./Mates of State split 7".

Fighter D's song is called "Storm." The band has two vocalists, the guitars non-distorted on this song at least, the chorus shifting into 6/8. All three women in Fighter D. are also in The Little Deaths, and both F.D. and T.L.D. will have records out on Heartcore. Mates of State has the unusual configuration of drums and organ, with both members singing. Their song "Leave Me at the Tree" is quite catchy, with intricate drumming. (Omnibus Records, PO Box 4522, Davis CA 95617. web: www.omnibusrecords.com )

The Haggard: "I've been sick" 7".

Four songs of fast punk by this two-woman band. The songs are "For Matthew Shepard"; "Word for the buyer," which is about sex work; "Country song," which isn't country and western, it's about living in the homophobic U.S.A.; "TV & pacification" is about the stultifying effects of television viewing. A lyric sheet is thankfully included. This is the first release on the new queer punk label Heartcore, which is planning on putting out a bunch of great records in the near future - see their website. (Heartcore Records, Columbia University Station, PO Box 25636, NY NY 10025. web: www.heartcorerecords.net )

Nomy Lamm: Anthem CD.

Nomy Lamm, who's known for her writing, created this CD of songs and spoken word pieces. There are even a few tracks from when she was a kid. As with Nomy's writing, there is a lot of personal and political content. She's got a very good singing voice as well. Here's stuff about some of the stuff on the CD. The album stats out with a song she wrote at age 10, with guitar by her father, about a guy she was into. "You don't get to decide what you are" is a spoken word piece about gender determinism and roles. "Lady in Waiting," another unrequieted love song, has bass and drum accompaniment, like several of the other songs, which lends a dark tone to the music. "The writing's on the wall" is a chant about politics getting reduced to slogans. "Your body is perfect" is about the absurdity of societal messages. "Here is an exercise to assist you" suggests doing male drag. The folowing song "Everything is sex" says to "put on your dick and stick it to the man." "Baruncha" is a song that reclaims religion from the right wing. (Talent Show Records, PMB 295, 120 State Ave NE, Olympia, WA 98501-8212)

Lost Girls 7".

Lost Girls is Patrick, formerly of Kitchens of Distinction and Fruit, and Heidi Berry, former 4AD recording artist. It doesn't say so on the sleeve, though, so maybe they don't want to coast on their reputations. "Needle's Eye" is characterized by snakey delay guitar, slow single drum beats, and Heidi's resonant singing; the backing builds towards the end with strings and breathy sounds. "A Reason To Live" has layers of electric and acoustic guitars, with jangling percussion. Patrick sings on this one (with backing vocals from Heidi), starting in the second person - "you don't bother to kill yourself." But by the other verses it switches to "we don't bother," then "she don't bother." (Bad Parents Records, distro by Cargo)

Dina Martina 7".

A picture disc, with pix of Dina in scary drag on both sides. Dina celebrates various holidays in song. "My Country Valentine" is a song about being alone on that day ("No swinging your partner/ no di-si-do.") On the President's Day tune, Dina can't quite come up with enough names of Presidents. For some reason the St. Patrick's day song seems to confuse the saint with Paul Bunyan. A fun little record. An Xmas single is also available. (Up Records, POB 21328, Seattle WA 98111-3328.)

"Matriarchs of the Midwest" compilation CD.

Proving that there is life in the heartland of the U.S. is this 11-band compilation. The bands are Three Dollar Bill from Chicago with "Girl-O-Matic"; Chuck Marten from Indianapolis with "In The Hole"; Idgie from St. Louis with "Cat"; Ann's Elixir from Fayetteville, AR with "Skin"; Dollhouse from Chicago with "Big Pants"; Stella from Detroit with "Crazee"; Lipkandy from Lexington, KY with "Black Stockings"; Fair Verona from Franklin, TN with "Blend In With Mary T."; Sailor Harlette from Madison, WI with "Arms"; The Glitter Kicks from Lawrence, KS with "Sunshine"; Pop Roxy from Murfreesboro, TN with "Day Break". Web: http://www.elegantdiscourse.com ($8 ppd cash or check payable to CJ Etzkorn to: Elegant Discourse, po box 15054, St. Louis, MO 63110)

The Offs: California Skapunk Pioneers CD.

While it's not impossible to find San Francisco band The Offs' sole LP, their singles are rather expensive collector's items. It's nice to have 8 songs from singles and compilations collected on this CD for a reasonable price. (Though where is "You Fascinate Me", the flipside of "My World"?) The lead singer of The Offs was Don Vinil - for more info, see Joe Westmoreland's piece in Holy Titclamps #14 or places like the reprint of Search and Destroy zine. This stuff has a lot more energy than the mild-mannered stuff passing for ska-punk these days. (Lost & Found, Bunteweg 1, 30900 Wedemark, Germany)

Pantychrist: self-titled CD.

A collaboration between Bob Ostertag, Otomo Toshihide, and Justin Bond. Justin's well known for her lounge act as one half of Kiki and Herb. This is noisy and experimental, with a variety of sound sample sources (dixieland band, crying babies, accordian music, and sounds so warped who knows their origin) weaving in and out, with Justin free-associating on top, with frequently hilarious results. Justin's references (like to old dirty blues song "Shave Em Dry") are like a form of sampling. I think it works a lot better than the CD by Ostertag and various people (including Bond and Lynn Breedlove), "Fear No Love." (Seeland, www.negativland.com/nmol/seeland.html)

Paxton: self-titled CD.

I love power pop (examples: Big Star, Cheap Trick, Posies). But for some reason (with the exception of Tommy Keene) power pop is always about men singing about girls, girls, girls. Well, finally here is Paxton to reclaim power pop for the guys. "Which way do you go?" has it both ways, with a song about someone who likes girls and boys. "John & Joe" is a cautionary tale for the age of AIDS. (Nemperor Records. www.paxtonband.com)

Peyote Circus: self-titled CD.

Guitar riff lines distort and twist around rhythm, vocals melodic and husky. Three women and a male drummer. Some of the songs: "Ruth and Naomi" (named after those biblical sapphists) is a tale of two girls escaping from a stifling small town. That theme of escape also runs through songs like "Triway Bus" and "Queen Nicotina." They're based in the Washington, DC area. ( www.peyotecircus.com)

Gretchen Phillips, "Songs to Save Your Soul" CD.

Gretchen, a former member of Two Nice Girls does covers by Conway Twitty, Clifford Waldron, and Buck Owens, and also original songs such as "I Can Hear the Angels Singing" and "Peace on Earth." The originals address the religious right's cultural war against homosexuality using a taste of their own medicine. Gretchen has also been playing with Dusty Trails, a new project involving ex-Breeders Josephine Wiggs and ex-Luscious Jackson Vivian Trimble. (see website for further info.) web: www.monsterbit.com/gretchen (Seasick Sailor Records, PO Box 6085, Austin TX 78762)

Pistol Pete & Popgun Paul: Fine Red Wine CD.

Two guys, one on guitar and one on piano, both sing, in harmony even. Among the tunes are "Never Be Straight," "Jesus Loves the Little Faeries," and "What if God was a homo." I saw 'em play live in San Francisco, and they're a lot of fun. (PO Box 50805, New Orleans, LA, 70150-0805)

The Pre-Teens: "Pink Rock" cassette.

Very tight and accomplished pop rock trio who write catchy tunes with good harmony vocals. "Fashionably queer" is about those who just pose as gay. "Here" is about an affair with another girl. "Simple" is about just barely getting by economically. "Red Rover" seems to be a queer recruitment song. Seven songs total. Lyric sheet included. email: ghtodlx@excite.com (318 Market St Unit B, Santa Cruz, CA 95060)

Rage Against The Scene: 4 years of Club V.

A compilation of British bands who have played at the London queer indie rock venue Club V. The bands are Mouthfull, Nightnurse, Gertrue, Spy '51, Fosca, Anglocanadien, Linus, Sourtooth, Sexton Ming + Steady, Zero Balancer, and Baba Looey. There's a great variety of sounds here, all of which are great. The bookley has photos of the bands and first-person writing by band members and the club's organizers. Plus there's a quicktime video on the CD. (500 made, so order soon -- and probably ask via email first.) (Club V Records, Box 7984, London, SE13, 7XR.) Web: www.neilward.dircon.co.uk/vzone.html

Rainbow Flava

Rainbow Flava is a queer hip-hop crew. They have a CD out, and also one of the members, Tori Fixx, has a solo CD out. Check out their website at www.rainbowflava.com for sound samples and ordering information. See also www.phatfamily.org for queer hiphop email list. CDs available for US$10 mailorder from Rainbow Flava, P.O. Box 885093, San Francisco, CA 94188-5093 U.S.A. Checks or money orders to "Judge Muscat" or "Larry M. Counce, Jr."

Sourtooth/Ariadne split 7".

First Sourtooth's two songs. "Invisible Ink" about a woman whith a misunderstood mental state. The other song has a long instrumental section. The band had both a male and a female vocalist, and plays fast melodic music. I think their sound is pretty original - no other bands to compare come to mind. (to contact the band directly, send email to sourtooth30@hotmail.com or write PO Box 3726, Glasgow G41 2YJ Scotland.) Now for Ariadne: "The Pink Lady" is a quiet song, tentative.Andrew from Sourtooth guest-drums, but the band usually has two members, Amy and Rose. "Mapped Out" has one of them singing, the other speaking over the top. Chica-Cohete is also going to do a singles club, which will include another Sourtooth single, and there is also a four track 7" available with four girl bands including Ariadne which comes with a zine. (BM Chica-Cohete, London WC1N 3XX, UK. £2 UK, £2.50 Europe, $5 ppd from the U.S. email: rocketgirl@rocketmail.com)

Stop Homophobia 2: compilation 7".

Five bands on this compilation. Decembrists contribute "Heterosexual Panic," a brash stomper about homophobia. Mouthfull's "16" is about the age of consent in England. Polish punk band Homomilitia's song is "Homofobia" - sung in Polish, but there's an English translation in the booklet. The Halflings' song is "Oi! Oi! We Fuck Boys!" is a retort to skinheads who jumped the Halflings' singer because they thought he was gay. Powersnatch, the only band on the record with female vox, contributes "Head Job" - no lyrics in the booklet, so I can't quite figure it out. ($3 PPD cash/money order made out to Rick Magee to:Turkey Baster Records, PO Box 222059 Dallas, Tx. 75222 email: hijacker@aol.com)

Terre Thaemlitz: Love For Sale CD.

Starts with a sound collage made from samples of a broadcast of the San Francisco gay pride parade emphasising commercial product placement. The rest of the CD is ambient, in a variety of modes, whispered layers of music, whistles, clicks, filtered sounds, re-processed appropriated sound. "Sloppy 42nds - post-Processed" is a heavily reprocessed version of Thaemlitz' "house" record which served as a tribute to the Times Square club where he used to DJ, a place now gone due to gentrification. The track "One" uses the sounds of a male voice spewing homophobic abuse. The liner notes explore gay politics further, pointing especially to problems with assimilationist politics. Web: www.comatonse.com (Mille Plateaux)

Three Dollar Bill "getting to know you" CD.

Songs are "Girl-O-Matic," "Self-Loathing Queer," "Phallic Symbol," "Dud Boy," "Must See T.V.," and "Retarded Drag Queen." Jane and Christopher alternate lead vocals on these songs. While it's all guitar-based, sometimes the guitars are loud, thrashy and electric, sometimes acoustic, making for a nice variety, accentuated by having two vocalists. email: thrdollar@aol.com web: http://www.ThreeDollar.net ($8 ppd, PO Box 13167 Chicago, IL 60613)

Tummy Shaking double 7" compilation.

Put together by Rudy of the zine Scutter, the bands on this double 7" vinyl compilation are Bis (with a demo version of Shopaholic), Ozma with "L.A.", Pansy Division with a live version of "Vicious Beauty," and Scottish band Sourtooth with "In A Haunted House." (edition of 1000.) ($7 ppd in the U.S., $8 elsewhere) (Scutter c/o Rudy, PO Box 3247, Alhambra CA 91803)

Forthcoming records

Heartcore records will be putting out records by Fighter D., a Sarah Dougher/Kaia split 7", Las Nalgas, The Little Deaths, Highteen Boogie, Elle Touer, a Butchies/Tribe 8 split 7", Prima Donnas, and Pete from Red Monkey, and a video called Cherrybomb. They also distribute records from other labels. See http://www.heartcorerecords.net

Homocore Minneapolis will be putting out a compilation CD of bands that have played at their shows. See www.homocore.org for more information.

Johann's Face Records will be compiling a CD of queer bands. See http://members.aol.com/johannface/catalog.html [web page not currently working 12/1/99]

Momus: Stars Forever CD. This CD will include a song about Steven Zeeland, who has written books about gays in the military.

Shout It Out Loud is a web-based Mp3 record label run by Mike Wyeld of the lamentably defunct British queer band Mouthfull. They have released mp3s by Nightnurse, a band which includes Ellyott, formerly of Sister George. Web: www.shoutitoutloud.com

Not heard yet:

Greek Buck LP. Band with Don Pyle (ex Shadowy Men and Phonocomb) and Andrew Zealley. ( Distributed by www.comatonse.com)

The Toilet Boys: Sinners and Saints CD. New York rockers fronted by Miss Guy. (www.coldfrontrecords.com)