serpentwithfeet, aka Josiah Wise
A playlist for Pride 2021 that will keep you moving
GREGG SHAPIRO | Q Music
Happy Pride, y’all! Even without parades and festivals, there are still plenty of opportunities for us to show and share our pride this season. Supporting LGBTQ+ musicians should be close to the top of the list.
In the 2010s, Frank Ocean paved the way for queer black male musicians, and then in the 2020s Lil Nas X took the initiative and ran with it. In between the two, you will find the brilliant serpentwithfeet (aka Josiah Wise). Deacon (Secretly Canadian), the second full-length serpentwithfeet album, is sexy, sly, seductive and spiritual, often in the same song. “Derrick’s Beard” says more in just over a minute and a half than most songs twice as long.
Queer musician Xiu Xiu (aka Jamie Stewart) has a career-long history of making some of the most compelling, yet difficult, pop music. Just as he lures in the listener, he abruptly shoves them away. This tendency has increased over the years with each subsequent album. All that changes with Oh No (Polyvinyl), subtitled An Album of Duets. Still employing his fluttery vocal style, Xiu Xiu not only sounds like he’s happy to be collaborating with indie rock goddess Sharon Van, gay singer/songwriter Owen Pallett, punk feminist legend Alice Bag, Shearwater frontperson Jonathan Meiburg and alternative electronic musician Twin Shadow among others, but also with anyone taking the time to listen.
There’s more to Prism Bitch and its debut full-length album Perla (prismbitch.com) than just its wicked inventive band name. There’s lesbian drummer Teresa Cruces, solidly keeping the beat over the course of 11 rocking numbers. Also impressive is the way that Prism easily shifts from power pop to grunge to riot grrl to retro rock — and that’s just the first four songs!
Speaking of queer drummers, Gina Schock of The Go-Go’s certainly had a way with the skins. This was made abundantly clear on some of the band’s biggest hits. After the all-female quintet’s 1984 Talk Show album, they parted ways. But they regrouped and released God Bless The Go-Go’s (Eagle) in 2001 and now have newly re-issued in a 20th anniversary edition (including a vinyl debut), as well as expanded CD and digital versions (with new cover art). On the whole, God Bless The Go-Go’s is a harder-rocking effort than its forebears.
Northampton-based, queer and gender-nonconforming musician Carrie Ferguson invites listeners from all walks of life to join The Grumpytime Club (carriefergusonmusic.com). The 11 songs boast “welcoming and inclusive messages” dealing with “accepting feelings and celebrating differences,” while encouraging everyone to love themselves precisely as they are. Ferguson also plays melodica, piano, accordion and ukulele. Most listeners will find it hard to be grumpy for long.
San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Andrew Bundy describes his eight-cut debut EP Good As I Came (andrewbundy.com) as a “personal collection of original songs recounting my journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance as a gay man and artist.” While that sounds like a mouthful, Bundy delivers on that promise. Opener “Shame,” from which the EP draws its name, contains the meaningful lines, “I am who I am/Not ashamed to be/ The man I’ve buried deep inside/You can tease me, you can leave me/I just want the world to see me/So the younger boys won’t ever have to hide.”
As all LGBTQ+ folks know, we need our allies. That’s where singer/songwriter Grace Pettis comes in with her album Working Woman (MPress). The daughter of folk musician Pierce Pettis, Grace has music in her blood. Pettis’ “Landon” does an amazing job of providing a personal viewpoint on what it was like to see a gay childhood friend suffer and to offer what amounts to a heartfelt apology. Indigo Girls join Pettis on the song, giving it even more depth.