The Grammys are coming up on Sunday, and though America’s most prestigious music honors will see gay faves (Adele, Lady Gaga, Pink), bisexuals (Nicki Minaj) and even those who brag about kissing a girl (Katy Perry) vie for awards, it’s probably the least gay of the EGOT (Emmy, Tony, Oscar, Grammy) series.
So here I’m going give some much-deserved attention to bands and solo acts that will probably never get any recognition by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. But they deserve to be recognized by you. Make some room on your iPod for Jonsi (above) and other all-too-often overlooked queer acts.
Click through for the lowdown of some of today’s hottest queer indie musicians
Photos: Mercury Records, Parlophone
I often describe Patrick Wolf to friends as our generation’s Kate Bush: passionate, eclectic, left of center, British and, at times, just bloody weird. His latest album, Lupercalia, is admittedly not my favorite, though it actually might be his most accessible to date. And short of 2007’s “The Magic Position,” “The City” (above) might be the happiest song he’s ever written. For more complicated tracks, I’d recommend “To the Lighthouse,” “Tristan,” and “Magpie”—which features stunning guest vocals by Marianne Faithfull. After performing only a handful of acoustic dates in the U.S. last year, Wolf may tour the U.S. in 2012, though no announcement has been made.
Bloc Party may have gone on hiatus in 2008, but gay frontman Kele Okereke has been busy since then crafting some considerably more electro-tinged solo work. His first solo album, 2010’s The Boxer, felt like what it was: an indie rocker’s first foray into electro pop. And the fusion works! Last November’s The Hunter, a seven-song E.P., was more in the vein of straight of dance music—see lead single “What Did I Do,” featuring guest vocals by Lucy Taylor. Still, “Tenderoni” (above), off The Boxer, remains a personal fave.
Also gaining steam as a solo artist for the last couple years is Sigur Rós frontman Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson. With his band on indefinite hiatus, the Icelandic singer has recorded an instrumental album with his boyfriend, Alex Somers—2009’s Riceboy Sleeps—and, in 2010, released his first solo album, Go. The album features Jónsi’s first songs performed in English—includin “Go Do” (above)—,though his characteristic high pitched warbling is still there.
Jónsi’s solo output is much more pop than Sigur Rós’s sprawling, strangely orchestral compositions. But the same quirks are there—twinkling, tinkling chimes; atmospheric strings; resonant pianos and the general feeling that this is music that comes from ancient souls locked inside toy soldiers. Most recently, Jónsi has contributed music to the soundtrack of Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo.
Kansas City-based Ssion—pronounced “shun,” in case you were wondering—are equal parts New Wave, neo-disco and synth pop. They can go from campy gay madness (“Clown”) to playfully creepy and maybe even a bit dark (“A Wolve’s Eye”). But their cover of Young Marble Giants’ “Credit in a Straight World” (above) holds a very special place in my heart. The band is on tour (with a stop at New York’s Highline Ballroom on March 2), so catch them if you can.
Hunx and his Punx
If The Drums feel just a bit too commercial to you, may I suggest you get into Hunx and his Punx? Actually, if The Drums feel too commercial to you, you’re probably already a Hunx fan. Whatever. Frontman Seth Bogart’s faggoty retro garage pop, evident in songs like “Cruising” (above), is a blast. The band’s latest album, Too Young to Be in Love, is up for GLAAD Media Award this year. Meanwhile, Bogart has gone solo with Hairdresser Blues, which sees the usually flamboyant singer in a more reflexive mood, dealing with personal loss and emotional lows on tracks like “Always Forever” and “Say Goodbye Before You Leave.” But judging from the album’s promo clip, there’ll be no shortage of retro diner punk theatrics.
On his debut, Special Affections, John O’Reagan—a.k.a. Diamond Rings—goes from sensual slow burners like “Play By Heart” to swaggering dance tracks like “Show Me Your Stuff” (above). He combines jangly guitars with programmed beats and a minimal electro sound that, oddly, almost reminds you of ’90s gangsta rap. He’s also a big fan of eye makeup and lip gloss—and opened for Robyn on her 2011 tour.
The video for Perfume Genius’s latest single, “Hood” (above), co-stars adult performer Arpad Miklos—maybe that’s why it was initially banned from YouTube for adult content despite featuring no nudity or graphic sex. It was eventually approved but , ironically, that ban caused something of a scandal in the gay blogosphere and brought out solo artist Mike Hadreas some much deserved attention for his upcoming second album, Put Your Back N 2 It, out February 21.
dan avery: “But their cover of Young Marble Giants’ “Credit in a Straight World” (above) holds a very special place in my heart”
i’m sure you meant to say: their cover of HOLE’s “credit in the straight world” [your shame compounded because they had a queer element!]
loved kele’s tenderoni. inexplicably it didn’t do shit here in the uk charts, despite decent airplay.
i’m a fucking idiot. you were correct.
i will NEVER doubt you again.
i am ritually disembowelling myself with my samurai sword even as i write this, such is my shame.
I thought Diamond Rings wasn’t gay, just gay-friendly?
When was this article written? Sigur Rós isn’t on hiatus anymore, they have a new album coming out this spring and they’re touring the whole year.
This is a pretty good diverse list, however, I would add Ladyhawke (I would have added Goldfrapp too, but they are too well-known).
My Delirium: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_bFO1SNRZg&ob=av2e
She has just released her new single, , which is an homage to my favorite camptastic horror film, The Eyes of Laura Mars. I have both the video and the video it is inspired for comparison on my website: http://www.bop2pop.com
Sorry wrong link to Black White Blue.
here it is…
Queerty “grammar” strikes again. The headline should read “Here are . . . bands” not “Here’s . . . bands”
What about Beirut!? His last record was amazing, and he’s one of my favorite gay artists.
Patrick Wolf- I live! I actually quite like Lupercalia, perhaps the most of his albums (maybe it’s just nice to hear him happy?). “The Future” and “The City” are my picks off of that release. “Teignmouth” is an older favorite worth checking out, as is every track off of The Bachelor- the lack of cohesion makes for one hell of a ride.
Will be checking out more Perfume Genius, Hunx, and Ssion. Thanks, Queerty!
dane terry should be on this list.
queer neo-vaudevillian singer/songwriter/cabaret superstar.
Why aren’t these bands being appreciated by the Grammys? Yet, the Grammys has no hesitation in giving awards to homophobic black thugs and their vile rap lyrics. Remember that Buju Banton nomination recently?
Oh, and let’s not forget the awards the Grammys people have given to people like Eminem, a man who frequently used anti-gay slurs.
Diamond Rings was so awful when he opened for Robyn. The crowd totally wasnt feel him, and he even said during his set “don’t worry everyone, only 35 minutes till Robyn comes on” i felt a bit bad for him, but he was awful
he isn’t queer…..he just appropriates queer culture and style.
Your list of “Queer” bands is only gay men.
Gossip, Tegan and Sara, The Cliks, Justin Vivian Bond…
No mention of The Magnetic Fields? For shame.
beth ditto making fart noises under various folds and crevices would appear to me nonetheless as sonic cathedrals of ethereal majesty, such is my love for that woman.
What about Xiu Xiu and Parenthetical Girls!?
you left off BRANDON HILTON? possibly one of the most exciting new gay artists out right now!
just signed with Interscope, gonna be HUGE! they’re calling him “the male Lady Gaga”
There’s also the Jane Austen Argument- an Aussie duo who tour regularly with Amanda Palmer/The Dresden Dolls, and who had lyrics written for them by Neil Gaiman:
Nice to see queer music get some attention on this mostly boring gossipy site. Good selection of artist, but I hope hunx has properly credit the new order riff.
Credit In The Straight World was originally done by Young Marble Giants. Not Hole.
I think we’re in a sort of LGBT music renaissance right now with lots of amazing bands with openly gay members. A few more to check out:
God-Des & She
Serious Business’ fun song Hot Damn is in my rotation often these days.
@Doi: hence comment no. 3.
please don’t prolong my humiliation. 🙂
@divkid: Don’t be too embarrassed, sugar! Something tells me they were digging on Hole when they recorded the cover. I swear up and down that I heard a couple of Hole references on other tracks.
@divkid: awwww don’t beat yourself up, babe
mwah, mwah! your both sweeties, and that was…music to *my* ears!
@divkid: thanks,and its my pleasure, and so good to have you around again.
and click my name, that’s the new blog(not the one you came to bring me back on) in case you leave again/get busy and we can email. Queerty really needs a messaging system of some sort..
Are a new band from Oxford who im really getting into the more listen x
also Gossip and Bloc Party spring to mind
Free promo waheyyy! My boyfriends band:
Well, hell, if we’re just shamelessly plugging:
As a result of this article, I “ran over” to Amazon and bought both “The Boxer” by Kele and “Lupercalia” by Patrick Wolf…on VINYL!
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