Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Queer women sound off


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We may not be able to legally marry in most states, but we can still start our own families. For some, that includes children, biological or adopted. Warm Sun (The Next Family) by Susan Howard glowingly rejoices in that fact with a set of songs for all kinds of families, including those with same-sex parents. "Hanging Out with My Moms" is a delightful celebration of the fun and fabulous things you can do with two mommies. "Daddy Papa and Me" has a similarly festive spirit, while "I'm Adopting a Brother" adds a slightly more serious, though no less joyful tone to the proceedings.

Mal Blum made a splash on Logo's Click List with the cuddly video for her "Ode to Ukulele" track. Her latest EP For Making Art ( is another acoustically-driven collection of songs, with a darker perspective. "Baltimore" and "New Year's Eve," establish a somewhat less than upbeat mood. The title track, with its typewriter percussion, a little more gleeful, is a unique expression of gratitude. Two live tracks, including an Old Crow Medicine Show cover, and the heartbreaking "I Could Tell You" round out the disc.

Clear across the spectrum, Otep, the namesake of the metal band, declares, "I'm one of the/freaks, the faggots,/the geeks, the savages,/rogues, rebels, dissident devils,/artists, martyrs, infidels," on "Rise Rebel Resist," the opening track of the visceral Smash the Control Machine (Victory) album. The politically-oriented title track gets its point across successfully with a minimum of damage. Otep spits the rhymes on "Run for Cover" like a slam poet, while "Ur a Wmn Now" is an unexpectedly effective ballad.

Traversing the spectrum again, we arrive at The Mystery of Life ( by Karen Segal Trio. Jazz guitarist Segal does her influences proud, including Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny and John McLaughlin, twisting and bending the sounds from her guitar into new and compelling shapes.  Standout cuts include "After the Storm" and the luminescent "Moonrise."

The trio known as Girlyman (Doris Muramatsu, Ty Greenstein and Nate Borofsky) is virtually unstoppable. A popular live act, Girlyman has managed to make their trademark harmonies transfer easily to their studio recordings, and their latest release Everything's Easy ( is another fine example of their individual and collective talents. Taking a personal turn on tracks including "Easy Bake Ovens," "Somewhere Different Now" and the geographical "True Enough," Girlyman continues its development as one of the most original and captivating queer bands.

From trios to duos, Sugarbeach (Marlee Walchuk and Nathalie Callender) gets listeners up and dancing on the first track of Not Deserted ( "Mama I Love Her" is a dance track with a powerful queer message, and "Living Out Proud" has dance anthem written all over it.

Nicole Reynolds and Ann Reed represent the current state of folk music from opposite ends of the field. On her fourth album A Fine Set of Fools (, Pittsburgh native Reynolds sets things off with the devastatingly powerful coming-of-age tune "Like the Ocean." "Crazy Like You" adds an infectious rhythm to the album, and "Earthworms" is a delightful number about gender and queerness. The timeless "Joseph Brown" sounds like it could have been written yesterday or more than 100 years ago.

Minnesota-based Reed's Where the Earth is Round (Turtle Cub) contains elements that will be familiar to her devoted followers. Humor, an essential component in her work, is here in abundance on tracks including "Coffee Tasted Better When You Were Here" (composed for the 2008 final broadcast of The Morning Show on Minneapolis Public Radio) and "Good Thing I Bounce." The addition of the First Universalist Unitarian Choir on "We Will" elevates the tune to political hymn status, while "A Song for the End of the Day" sets the comfort of domesticity to music.

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