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Best gay albums of 2010

Bloc Party's Kele Okereke released his own album this year which landed at number 6 on the qPDX list

There was a lot of good music this year and better yet lots of it was local. I may be a little biased, then, in this list, but we’re the queer Northwest…That’s the point. So I don’t apologize for that the musicians in charge of 4 of the top 10 best queer albums call Portland home.

10 – Logan Lynn – I Killed Tomorrow Yesterday

Occasionally a little too retro gay dance party local Logan Lynn’s newest album still commands a danceable pop beat. He puts on a great show with perfectly placed live vocals for an electro show focused on audience excitement. I’m suprised he’s not more internationally known. Maybe he just needs to tour Europe. Oh, and I did I mention proceeds of the album go to charity? Yeah, I appreciate a feel good album for the music and the cause.

9 – Corin Tucker – 1000 Years

Despite that I was pretty much in love with Tucker’s pre-baby band Sleater-Kinney, this one almost didn’t make the list. One of the most compelling aspects of Tucker’s work is her oddly beautiful ululating vocals. But without the right backup the sounds can edge on the annoying, and that does happen here. The sparseness seems to be an attempt to rebrand herself and revitalize her sound but in my opinion the harder guitar riffs are sorely missed.

8 – Kele – The Boxer

Bloc Party frontman Kele is newly out and newly solo but this “coming of age” doesn’t erase any dance fun that so characterizes his work. But this new foray into the tribal dubstep beat does show huge growth. It’s no longer just about the party but about the whole experience.

7 – Sia – We Are Born

The great combination of folk and soul with virtually no hint if cheesiness was back this year with a pop album that successfully incorporated all three genres. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of hype for this Australian chanteuse, even though she has one of the best voices in the biz…next to Beth Ditto of course.

6 – Tender Forever – No Snare

Tender Forever's Melanie Valera whose album makes #6 on the qPDX countdown

Electronic but hardly danceable you wouldn’t think I’d be a huge Tender Forever fan but Melanie Valera combines her sultry and often depressing French vocals to nuanced and upbeat electro-pop complete with chipper instruments like glockenspiels and maracas. Live Valera adds a dimension by backing herself up with video installations and controlling her electronic orchestra with Wii controllers.

5 JónsiGo

First solo project from Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi is just as sweetly beautiful as you’ve come to expect. Instrumental swells pair with his ethereal and effortless sounding falsettos in epic works that sound both intense and helpful. If this is what the Scandinavian landscape sounds like take me away.

4 Scissor Sisters – Night Work

Quintessential gay icons the Scissor Sisters came out with another album and showed some more skin this year. Silly, dirty, poppy and pleasurable Night Work feels like anything but. And this feels like but a tease for their upcoming jump to the Broadway stage this year when they take on the soundtrack for Tales of the City. I. Am. So. Excited.

3 – Rufus Wainwright – All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu

The incredibly talented Rufus Wainwright released a stripped down, piano and vocals album this year. It’s bareness was vocally indulgent, but if any male singer could pull that off it’s the light but intense tones of RW. Earlier this year he joined the Oregon Symphony and Carlos Kalmar singing songs by Hector Berlioz, excerpts from his controversial opera Prima Donna.

2 – Big Freedia – Hits Volume 1

The South produces some strange combinations, and the apparent contradictions are no more evident than in the advent of New Orleans Sissy Bounce, spearheaded by Big Freedia. This rap gone drag manages to create some really interesting mixed crowds and end up in all kinds of unlikely venues. But gays and straights alike can come together when it comes to dirty dancing. In it is that sexually free, sweaty booty shake that we all come for in a BF show. 2010 really was the year of “Azz Ever-where.”

1 – Lovers – Dark Light

qPDX queer album of the year Lovers - Dark Light

While they may not be the most well-known queer musicians of 2010 Lovers had a banner year of critical acclaim and I have no doubt they will rise to stardom. Formerly just a project of Carolyn “Cubbie” Berk, the addition of bandmates Kerby Ferris on synth-programming and Emily Kingan on percussion created a much more dynamic sound in time for their 2009 release.

Dark Light has gone even farther into both the darkness and the light with heavy sounds coupled with silly, sardonic lyrics. Taking your ears on a roller coaster ride of emotion and intensity it is easy to get lost in DL, which is why you can play it on repeat, just like many college radio stations have been doing all semester. Heady and light yet still able to break your heart it’s like a night on ecstasy with your lover…

Honorable mentions: Hardest workin’, beard sportin’, and ultra Portland, electroclash artist Copy‘s Hard Dream is a great listen. So is female hip hop pioneer Psalm One and her debut album, Woman at Work which only costs 1 tiny little dollar and sports some mean rhymes, and lilting folk songstress Sarah Jaffe‘s Suburban Nature.

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