Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

LGBTQ History Month playlist


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It's an unspoken rule that if you write a column about LGBTQ music, you must include at least one musical cast album. In this case, it's The View UpStairs: Original Cast Recording (Broadway Records) with book, music and lyrics by Max Vernon. In recent years, there has been increased interest in the tragic story of the horrific 1973 fire at The UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans' French Quarter. It has inspired documentaries, a book and stage productions. Vernon's The View UpStairs interweaves the present, when fashion designer Wes (Jeremy Pope) wants to purchase the landmark site and turn it into the home of his "fashion empire," and the past, in which the bar habitues, including drag queen Freddy (Michael Longoria) and bartender Henri (Frenchie Davis), tell their stories in song.

Queer lo-fi diva Mirah returns with the seven-song EP Sundial (Absolute Magnitude/K Records), featuring string arrangements by in-demand musician Jherek Bischoff. Sundial, which began as a piece commissioned by Brooklyn's BRIC Arts/Media house, presents a new way to hear familiar Mirah songs. The radiant new arrangements, as well as the new title track, are enough of a good reason to let this music come shining through your speakers.

Led by sizzling gay frontman Adam Curley, Australian punk quartet Gold Class invokes an updated Joy Division and The Smiths sound on its second album Drum (Felte). This comes through loudest and clearest on the "rough joy" of "Get Yours," as well as on "Twist in the Dark," "Bully" and "Lux." You'll get a better sense of just how apt Drum is as the album's title when you hear the brain-rattling, skin-slamming "We Were Never Too Much."

Queer country act Karen & The Sorrows couldn't have picked a better band name if they tried. Led by Karen Pittelman, who comes through like a cross between Iris DeMent and Victoria Williams, the band's new album The Narrow Place ( lights the torch and tweaks the twang for the ears of our community. Songs such as "The Man Who Loves You," "I Was Just Your Fool," "Can't Miss What You Never Had" and "Take Me For a Ride" should appeal to country music fans from all walks of life.

If you can get past the band's crass name, Glam Skanks are a blast-and-a-half. Loud, snotty, in your face and in your ears, Glam Skanks "leave behind a trail of glitter" wherever they go on Glitter City (Unison). Lesbian drummer Cassie keeps the beat fast and furious on songs "Teenage Drag Queen," "Tube Tops," "Blow Me" and "I Want It Now".

Loud ( is the debut EP by gay singer-songwriter Davis Mallory. Some listeners might recognize the Nashville-based Mallory as a cast member of MTV's The Real World Denver. Mallory may now call Music City his creative home, but his music is anything but country. Most of his songs, including "Because of Love" and "Anyone Would Know," are geared towards club play.

Lesbian singer-songwriter Crys Matthews has been busy in 2017, releasing the full-length album The Imagineers and the EP Battle Hymn for an Army of Lovers ( Who can blame her? The election of Trump has been a source of inspiration for many artists. The five-song EP was released before the violence in Charlottesville, making the song "One and the Same," about taking down "the rebel flag," eerily prescient. The title tune is an anthem for the age of Trump, and "Paris Is Burning" calls for more than "profile picture overlays."

Kyle Motsinger's theater background comes through on his debut album Far Away ( The gay singer-songwriter incorporates theatrical flair into the dozen original songs, the best of which include "Midwest Boy," "Nothing Stays the Same" and the title track.

Another unspoken rule for columns about LGBTQ music is the inclusion of a lesbian folk duo. Alt-folk pair Hannah & Maggie fill the bill with their 14-song third album Oh No (

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