Modern Tonic — a daily newsletter that delivers gay-approved pop culture gems (before they've been co-opted by everyone else) — presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad. TODAY'S FEATURED NEW RELEASES:
Connoisseurs of modern pop diva-dom might want us to lead with Christina Aguilera, but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t more excited about the self-titled debut from Brooklyn indie quartet The Drums. Their 2009 Summertime EP made them stars in the U.K. and a buzz-band here. For a change, it’s easy to hear why. They’re as catchy as Belle & Sebastian with less twee, as aurally compelling as Joy Division without clinical depression and as whimsically melancholy as the Cure with less eyeliner. First single "Best Friend" exudes a Smiths-ian jangle in a tale of tragic loss. "Down By the Water" is like Motown slowed down for maximum Goth drone. And "It Will All End in Tears" (download for free here) is "Love Will Tear Us Apart" written by a cad instead of a masochist. "I don’t feel sorry when you cry," sings Jonathan Pierce, and neither do we. Not while his band-mates Jacob Graham (guitars), Adam Kessler (guitars) and Connor Hanwick (drums) rock away the darkness with such post-punk élan.
Whether "bionic" refers to her vocal prowess or the future-forward electro sheen of her release, Christina Aguilera’s Bionic has met with resistance. We’re not saying it’s like Dylan going electric, but fans of the supersonic balladeer seem confused by the dance grooves on Xtina’s fourth English-language studio album. But those naysayers will backpedal once she shimmies up to them at the club. With help from M.I.A. ("Elastic Love"), Le Tigre and Peaches ("My Girls") and her own bad self (the self-loving "Vanity"), she’s never been as out there or as much fun. Then there are the ballads, especially the ethereal "You Lost Me" co-written with Sia. As Ms. Genie-in-a-Bottle says herself on "Vanity": “I’m not cocky, I just love myself bitch!" Get in line, haters.
Andy Bell’s second solo release, Non-Stop is the most joyful thing he’s put his name on since Erasure’s Wild! (back in 1989). Co-written and co-produced by Pascal Gabriel (Ladyhawke, Kylie), these 10 dance tracks run the electro-vibe gamut, from the stuttering groove of opener "Running Out" to the chill ambience of "Slow Release." There’s also a duet penned and sung with Perry Farrell, "Honey If You Love Him (That’s All That Matters)" and our favorite, the careening "DHDQ" — which stands for "Debbie Harry Drag Queen." Oh, we pray for a video for that one.
Junior Vasquez releases "Nervous Breakdown - Volume 2" August 17.
On the heels of Christina Aguilera's high-profile full album leak a few weeks ago, Eminem's Recovery leaked in its entirety yesterday...two weeks before street date. (BTW, um, not that we know anything about this personally but album track "No Love," which features L'il Wayne, serves up a brilliant sample of Haddaway's "What Is Love?").
Suck on this: the latest soundtrack from vampire central, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, features new tracks from Florence + the Machine ("Heavy in Your Arms"), Beck and Bat for Lashes ("Let’s Get Lost"), and author Stephanie Meyer’s favorites, Muse ("Neutron Star Collision [Love Is Forever])."
Bikini season is more than nigh upon us: it’s here people. So do us a favor, slap on Just Dance 3, immerse in body-moving jams like Mariah Carey’s "H.A.T.E.U. (Jason Nevins Mix)" get toned and meet us on Fire Island.
Ah, the end of an era! Actually, the first season of Glee comes to a close tonight, and Columbia has thoughtfully released Glee: The Music, Journey to Regionals with versions of "To Sir With Love" "Over the Rainbow" and — oh, yes — "Bohemian Rhapsody."
ceo — "Come With Me" ceo (aka the Tough Alliance’s Eric Berglund) dons Adam Ant war paint in the black-and-white clip about visiting "a place they call reality." Overrated — reality, that is — but this dreamscape is lovely enough, especially Berglund’s very hairy chest.
Jump Jump Dance Dance — "Modern Eyes" We love big balls — disco balls, that is, which are featured prominently in this quirky clip from the California dance-rock duo that messes with depth perception and shadow play, all to a streamlined beat.
Anane — "Plastic People" Born off the west coast of Africa in Cape Verde, Anane rocks Marianne Faithfull’s scathing "Why’d Ya Do It?" riff in this sci-fi throwback that’s equal parts Metropolis, King Kong and Grace Jones circa-1981.
Straight No Chaser — "Tainted Love" This male a cappella ensemble swings Soft Cell’s classic on their recent With a Twist CD. The video features the boys paying homage to The Hangover in the far seedier enclave of Atlantic City, NJ.
"I've been helping Eminem in the last 18 months and he is doing
brilliantly. When you give it up, you tend to think everybody else
has given it up, but of course it is just as prevalent as it ever was.
And nowadays pills, such as downers, are even more damaging. I'm there if people want my help. If people ask for help you
can tell them where they should go, but there is no point advising
someone if they don't want to do it."
Eminem drops anti-gay lyrics to avoid protest at first UK concert in five years: "The last time Eminem toured the country in 2001, gay rights group
OutRage! protested outside his shows, saying his lyrics were
homophobic. Event organisers were said to be worried that another such protest
would cause major disruption to Wireless, which attracts tens of
thousands of people."
Palin-Johnston custody lawsuit comes out in the open. Writes Dan Savage: "Before Republicans are allowed to impose their values on our families
their political leaders—Sarah Palin, Mark Sanford, John Ensign, et
al—should be required to successfully impose their own damn values on
their own damn families for for five fucking minutes."
Yemen vows to not be the new Al-Qaeda battleground.
Peter Tatchell on bitter Quentin Crisp: "He resented the fact that he was no longer unique – no longer the only
visible queer in town. Hence his loathing of the gay liberation
movement of the 1960s and 1970s. It had encouraged and empowered the
mass coming out of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. They
stole his limelight. Put bluntly: Crisp disliked being overtaken and
over-shadowed by other gays."
Painting by a young master: "His pictures cost upwards of £900, there are 680 people on a waiting list to buy them, and his second exhibition sold out in 14 minutes."
Anti-gay Northern Ireland lawmaker Iris Robinson retires from public life due to depression: "Over the years, I have undergone a long series of operations and though I have never talked about it publicly, I have, against this background, also battled against serious bouts of depression. The stress and strain of public life comes at a cost and my health has suffered. As many people will be aware, I have recently tried to return to the full-time work of representing my constituents, following my latest period of illness. Only those who have faced similar challenges in life will know the ordeal faced by those who are profoundly depressed and the distress caused to those around them as they grapple with personality-changing illness.”