Are you still listening to old tunes from way last year in 2017? Get out of the past and join us, here in the future! If you’re looking for some music to accompany the fact that you’re probably finally writing “2018” when you write the date on whatever documents you’re writing the date on, here are five just-released albums/EPs/singles you should check out if you like queer women, gay boys, trans women, and the wonderful music that they make.
Tune-Yards, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life
Released: January 19, 2018
Queer lead singer of Tune-Yards, Merrill Garbus has long expressed an aggressive, gender bent, progressive feminism in her music that has long made this trans lesbian feel at home. Her breakthrough record, 2011’s Whokill, was originally titled Women Who Kill, after all, and I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life continues and expands her use of discordant rhythms, her mind-shatteringly powerful voice, an increasingly sophisticated palette of synths, and dynamic, often-bizarre percussive choices. It’s a provocative and thrilling album, and her best yet by far.
Always an adept, fearless lyricist, this record breaks new ground as it grapples, abrasively, with white womanhood and its accompanying privilege. Garbus does not absolve herself, instead placing her own whiteness center stage as she struggles with privilege. “All I know is white centrality,” she laments on single “ABC 123,” and on “Colonizer,” she implicates herself further, illuminating the violence that so often accompanies white women’s tears: “I use my white woman’s voice to interpret my travels with African men/ I turn on my white woman’s voice to contextualize acts of my white women friends/ I cry my white woman tears carving grooves in my cheeks to display what I meant/ I smell the blood in my voice.” Of course it’s something people of color have been discussing for years, but it’s refreshing to hear someone so adroitly owning up to it.
Buy the album here.
Bonus: check out her Tiny Desk Concert from 2011 here; it’s amazing.
Shopping, The Official Body
Released: January 19, 2018
Shopping makes fun, catchy, queer post-punk. Though that band isn’t shy about their counter-cultural, anti-capitalist politics, The Official Body mostly lets the music speak for itself. Shopping is fronted by Rachel Aggs, a queer woman of color, and the album’s aggressively layered and noisy, though meticulous, sharp, and melodic sound communicates the frustration and struggle of living in a white, straight world, and beats your eardrums into beautifully rhythmic submission.
While the album’s lyrics aren’t front and center, gems poke through: “You don’t like me/ I don’t look like you,” Aggs bellows on “My Dad’s a Dancer.” On “Discover,” dual vocalists go back and forth over a driving, piercing beat that echoes the difficulty of being honest with oneself: “You’re still lonely, still desperate/ I’m not lonely, I’m fine.”
Buy The Official Body here.
Too Attached, Angry
Released: February 1, 2018
Vivek Shreya, who released Part-Time Woman as a solo project in 2017, collaborated with her sibling Shamik Bilgi to release a new album called Angry. “Veins” expresses, over a driving low-fi dance beat, frustration with biphobia in queer community, but is also a treatise on the difficulty of embracing visibility: “They think they know love/ but they don’t know about/ what they don’t see on TV/ or the movies.” For bisexual folks, who are often marginalized our outright misrepresented in mainstream representations of LGBTQ community, it’s a welcome acknowledgment of bi folks’ reality.
“Love is Not Love” explicitly addresses trans desire and the co-opting of “love” by LGB folks who, in reality, aren’t comfortable with trans desire or relationships (see: TERFs). “You want me to step up to the mic/ and say “love wins” or “love is love”/ …love doesn’t keep my sisters safe/ so love alone won’t set us free.” It’s a radical political statement; especially when directed at the “hate won’t fight hate” crowd, who seem to willfully misunderstand what it’s like to be hated. Feeling as though we’re worthy of love is incredibly important for trans women in particular, but our political priorities have always been more practical — safe, discrimination-free housing, jobs, education, and health care, primarily — and of course “love is love” is usually just a benign platitude. Props to Shreya for creating such a beautiful call-out.
Buy Angry here.
Troye Sivan, “My My My” and “The Good Side”
Released: January 11, 2018
2016’s favorite rising gay pop star has new music coming out! Blue Neighborhood was a huge smash, and if the two singles Sivan has released in the first weeks of 2018 are any indication, the new as-yet-untitled record is going to be more cool, layered, ethereal electro-pop and only more confident, gayer, and even more danceable.
“I’ve got my tongue between your teeth/ go slow, go fast/ you like it just as much as me,” he croons on “My My My,” a new gay love anthem. Explicitly about lust and desire, with an orgasmic chorus and a driving, heartbeat-pounding synth beat, it makes you sweat just listening to it.
“The Good Side,” on the other hand, is a slow-burning breakup ballad with acoustic guitar strumming and double-tracked, echoey vocals. It’s a rose-colored reflection on that first queer relationship, the one that expanded and transformed us, even if we weren’t ready to treat that first partner with the care they deserved. “You taught me the ropes/ and you taught me to love,” he sings, acknowledging that though breakups are hard on both sides, because of all that he gained from the relationship, he got the “good side.”
Go to Sivan’s website here to check out the singles and await release date and purchase information for the new album when it comes out.
Quay Dash, Transphobic EP
Released: OK, it came out in 2017!
So, Quay Dash’s debut EP, Transphobic came out in 2017, and the most recent song released was at the end of last year. But she’s so good! And she should be who you’re listening to in 2018! Expect her to blow up this year. Quay Dash is a black trans woman rapper from New York. If 2018 is your year for finally getting past mainstream trap music and going back to hip-hop with actual lyrics and dynamic, intricate production, she’s a great place to start.
Overall, the EP is dark, with heavy, discordant beats, and accompanied by Quay Dash’s heavy, aggressive flow, it’s not a light listen. That being said, it’s a pretty standard first major EP, full of brag raps and drug references. But while another rapper’s sex anthem might seem old hat, she drops some gems, like this one on “Queen of NY:” “Feeling on my tuck saying that he wanna bless me/ Sorry little daddy but your car looking sketchy/ Cough up all your funds so i can shop with my bestie.” I’ve literally never heard any musician mention their tuck, and while trans women always have to operate in semi-secrecy in public about our transness, she positions it as something attractive, which… honestly feels revolutionary to this black trans woman!
Listen to Transphobic here.