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MUSIC NEWS: John Grant, Best Coast, Kylie Minogue, Dave Stewart, Glee, Jesca Hoop

GuestbloggerMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a daily email that delivers gay-approved pop culture gems (before they've been co-opted by everyone else) — presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad.


GrantAfter a five-year break from music, John Grant, the singer from the defunct, much-admired  the Czars (1994-2005), has released Queen of Denmark, 12 elegantly askew compositions steeped in the amber tones of ‘70s rock. From a handful of tracks inspired by his doomed relationship with a man named Charlie ("TC and Honeybear," "It’s Easier," and "Caramel") to an homage to his junkie-infested neighborhood in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Grant’s amaretto-smooth baritone links the tunes. He slams homophobes on the scathing "Jesus Hates Faggots," wherein a suicidal gay boy’s informed: "Jesus — he hates homos, son/We told you that when you were young/And pretty much anything you want him to/Like Cocoa Puffs, red cars and Jews." It’s no leap to imagine that boy was Grant, who admitted to MOJO magazine he’d been suicidal towards the end of the Czars. Lucky for us his humor and his talent saw him through the dark times.

Best_CoastFuzzy girl pop is nothing new, not since the Jesus & Mary Chain unleashed the feedback beast in the ‘80s. The Primitives, Lush, Curve — those were only a few. We’ve got a retro movement afoot these days, what with Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and more. But Best Coast — the L.A. duo of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno — are, frankly, kind of the best. Their debut Crazy for You is full of catchy punk nuggets from opener "Boyfriend" like She & Him with reverb, to the slinky girl-group homage "I Want To." The production is echo-heavy, the guitars and drumming simplicity itself. But the best effect is Cosentino’s voice — as open, searching and melodious as Neko Case fronting a punk band. And that just makes us crazy.


RoadKylie turned out a diva-tastic performance of "All The Lovers" on the Australian So You Think You Can Dance this week.

RoadJustin Timberlake and Sir Elton John at the top of American Idol creator Simon Fuller's wishlist of candidates to replace Simon Cowell on the series, which suffered flagging ratings last season. Nigel Lythgoe is near a deal to return as exec producer of the show, and has stated he wants to completely reboot the panel of judges and return next year with all new ones.

RoadGorillaz kick off the "Escape To Plastic Beach" world tour in Montreal October 3. Pre-sale tickets available next Wednesday.

RoadRihanna will make her film debut in Battleship, a mega-budget action film about a naval fleet that protects the earth from alien invaders, based on the board game. Film will also star Alexander Skarsgard and Taylor Kitsch and will be directed by Peter Berg. Release date is planned to be May 25, 2012.

RoadThe autopsy tools claimed to have been used on Elvis Presley have been withdrawn from auction.
BusinessRoadMusician/producer/entrepreneur (and sometime Eurythmic) Dave Stewart has co-penned (with marketing expert Mark Simmons) The Business Playground: Where Creativity and Commerce Collide, a book encouraging creative spirit in the business world. Stewart brought out the music biz heavyweights to support the project: Sir Richard Branson wrote the foreword and Simon Fuller provided a recommendation for the cover.

RoadGlee is planning an episode of Rocky Horror Show tunes for the new season. We are praying to the Glee gods that this will involve Matthew Morrison in fishnets, high heels and lipstick.

RoadThe Cars to reunite?


What’s new, pussycat? Well, if you’re Tom Jones, that’d be Praise & Blame, a rootsy collection of tunes that’s like his Johnny Cash move, a reminder that the panty-dodging Las Vegas entertainer first came to fame as a pretty excellent singer.

The Portland trio Menomena are poised for a breakthrough moment on their seventh release Mines, 11 alt-rocking tracks that could turn them into the American Radiohead.

JescaAmerican singer Jesca Hoop moved to Manchester where she worked on her sophomore album Hunting My Dress. The result? A gothic-infused, eccentric set of singer-songwriter loveliness.

Also released: Propaganda — A Secret Wish (Deluxe Edition — import); Clay Aiken — Tried and True Live DVD; Sky Sailing — An Airplane Carried Me to Bed; Seu Jorge and Almaz — Seu Jorge and Almaz; Lights — Acoustic


Diamond Rings — "Show Me Your Stuff"
It smells like teen spirit on this high school gym-set clip, except kids these days would just as soon wear glitter jerseys and make-up while jockeying in for their lay-ups. Toronto’s John O’Regan brings the beats and the eyeliner on this jaunty slice of dance pop.

Washington — "The Sunday Best"
This mostly black-and-white clip is a blend of French New Wave with ‘80s New Wave — cool cats dance through an elegant restaurant to a bouncy Blondie-ish tune from this Aussie combo’s forthcoming debut, I Believe You, Liar.

Kele — "Everything You Wanted"
The video is just Kele in a tight-fitting yellow T-shirt walking the streets of New York; but the song is another smart electro-rocker from his fantastic debut, The Boxer.

The Pretty Reckless — "Miss Nothing"
It’s the Last Supper with Gossip Girl Taylor Momsen and her band of New York bruisers. The tune’s loud, fast and plenty furious from their forthcoming debut Light Me Up.

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  1. Ha, that "Diamond Rings" video is the gayest thing I've seen this year or maybe this century and that's a good thing : )

    He's strangely hot in a Phil Oakley kind of way

    Posted by: RONTEX | Jul 27, 2010 6:24:42 PM

  2. John Grant reminded me of a slowed down Scissor Sisters, kind of had that "Take your momma out" vibe. I lived in Portland for 4 years and definitely recommend Menomena, if you can catch them live DO IT!

    Posted by: rigo | Jul 27, 2010 7:40:06 PM

  3. Aw! Bethany (from Best Coast) is one of my closest friends. Props on promoting her!

    Posted by: Gosszip | Jul 27, 2010 7:58:11 PM

  4. Yawn @ Kylie. Is anyone else tired of this song and Towleroad's obsession with it?

    Posted by: John | Jul 27, 2010 8:03:19 PM

  5. Kele. I just found out about his music last week and I've listening to his "Boxer" album ever since. A truly talented bloke.

    Posted by: Tim | Jul 27, 2010 8:49:03 PM

  6. @John: No

    Posted by: Vince | Jul 27, 2010 9:18:18 PM

  7. The Jesus & Mary Chain is an all male band, so how are they "fuzzy girl pop"? Are you thinking of the track with Hope Sandoval on it, "Sometimes Always"? 'Cause even then, Stoned and Dethroned came out in 1994.

    Posted by: RP | Jul 28, 2010 2:40:03 PM

  8. Propaganda's A Secret Wish is one of the best pseudo-serious synth-pop confections of the golden age of Trevor Horn! What a great flashback...

    Posted by: SeanMichael | Jul 28, 2010 5:33:27 PM

  9. A decade with an unsuccessful band and serious substance abuse and sexual self-hatred left John Grant a mess. Gareth Grundy learns about the road to recovery and his word-of-mouth hit album, Queen of Denmark
    The lowest point of singer John Grant's life was not the time he was beaten up for being the sole obviously gay boy in the conservative, wealthy high school he attended in Parker, Colorado, fear causing him to wet himself during the attack. Nor was it the thwarted love affair with the straight drug dealer who introduced him to cocaine and subsequently attempted to kill himself on Grant's sofa (but not before an especially out-of-control evening that concluded with their house catching fire). Instead rock bottom was reached in September last year, shortly after Grant finished recording his debut solo album, Queen of Denmark. Beset by suicidal thoughts he checked himself into hospital.

    Posted by: likes on facebook | Oct 12, 2011 4:47:42 AM

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