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Best gay albums of 2011

Simon Curtis

Just our yearly take on the best albums and EPs by queer artists this year. We don’t hold back our local bias but it is an international list (maybe Canada’s kicking our asses a li’l this year?).

10 – Simon Curtis – RA

The hard pop beats of Simon Curtis are a little cheesy but their gay intensity is perfect for dance floor remixing and what’s more impressive is that the former Nickelodeon star has turned down record deals in favor of marketing himself…successfully. His first album 8 Bit, he offered for free and though RA is being called a commercial release Curtis still does not have a manager, publicist, agent, or label.

9 – Holcombe Waller – Into the Great Unknown

This soulful local does not always get the attention he deserves for his passionate performance art version of the singer/songwriter. This year, however, his along with a great 4th self-released album the artist got some further recognition in the form of a grant. Waller was announced as one of 50 recipients nationwide to receive a $50,000 grant from United States Artists, which, per OregonLive, has grown from $22 million in seed funding provided by “a coalition of leading foundations: Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential and Rasmuson.”

8 – Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Lady GaGa, Europride 2011

Goo-Goo For GaGa!!  This year she released her second amazing album, “Born This Way”. Leaving all us “Little Monsters” mesmerized by her raw talent, and personal lyrics. As of October, the record has sold over 8 million copies. After the completion of her album, she released a video for the song “Born this Way”. If you have ever watched a Gaga video than you know her talent does not stop as writer or vocalist. Gaga in drag? YEEEES, please! She is an amazing artist with creative ideas. She singularly directed her own video “Marry the Night.” Recently, on The Ellen Show, Gaga explained that the video was autobiographical-showing her life’s journey and obstacles. This year Gaga was also the winner of the VMA’s, “Best Female Video”.

This five time Grammy Award winner has been an awesome voice for the LGBTQ community. Gaga attended the Europride held in Rome, in June of this year. She also started her own non-profit, alongside her mother, the “Born This Way Foundation”. The foundation addresses issues of bullying and focuses on self-empowerment. Gaga has made her stamp, not only in Hollywood, but in all our lives as well (whether we like it or not). I can’t wait to see what Lady G. has in store for us this coming year!

7 – Patrick Wolf – Lupercalia

Patrick Wolf is not always on my radar, but whenever he pops up again I remember how truly great he is. Somehow Wolf seems to combine what’s popular in American music without creating the same boring “pop music.” It’s weird and ethereal, has the realness of the singer/songwriter, elements of electronic and dance, and yet goes beyond all these genres in an intensity that stops right before you feel too sappy. Plus he usually has some sort of play on his “Wolf” surname,  which proves he has sense of humor enough to not take everything as seriously as his sincere music might suggest.

 6 – Uh Huh Her – Nocturnes

Nocturnes

UH HUH Leisha! Leisha Hailey(The Murmurs, L-Word) and band mate Camila Grey released their 2nd album for their band Uh Huh Her. Nocturnes, was released world-wide back in October. The video for “Another Case”, a song off the new record, can be seen on their official YouTube channel. The girls have amazing talent on the keys, and equally share amazing voices! This was defiantly one of the only records I bought this year! Ms. Hailey of the duo, has been seen in the lesbian Indie film, “All over Me” and has been openly bisexual since the ‘90’s. Leisha is a great advocate for the queer community. Gal-pal, Camila, has played keyboards and bass for artist like: Dr. Dre, Melissa Auf der Maur, Busta Rhymes, and Kelly Osbourne. Keep rocking it, girls! Can’t wait to see you on tour (2012?) !

5 – Hercules and Love Affair – Blue Songs

Hercules & Love Affair has these great elements of 80s dance music without being mired in a retro labeling and it certainly doesn’t feel old. In fact, the multitude of queernesses behind their sound makes it truly music for the pomo-sexual dance floor of the future.

4 – Wild Flag – Wild Flag

They’ve been called a local “supergroup” and if you’re tuned into PacNW indie rock that’s certainly true. They’ve got a good NW sound without being too mired in their (dream of the) ’90s roots. Bolstered by busy frontwoman Carrie Brownstein their debut album definitely made a splash.

 3 – Austra – Feel It Break

 Busta’ Austra!

Austra

Tegan and Sara are not the only awesome sounds to come out of Canada. The Toronto based band, Austra released their record, “Feel it Break in May of 2011. This super exquisite quad group will leave your ears wanting more! Katie Stelmanis (vocals), Ryan Womsiak (keyboard), Dorian Wolf (bass), and Maya Postepski (drums) create a sound that is incomparable. Working with artists such as Bjork and influences such as The Knife, these rookies know how to create a great sound!  As of now, there are no tour dates scheduled for the U.S. But, there a plenty of places to buy and download their album. Of course you can ” like” them on Facebook and listen to them on Myspace. If you want to be visually stimulated, catch their music video on YouTube!

2 – Beth Ditto – Beth Ditto EP

I know my love may be getting a bit old to you but I really can’t help thinking she’s at the center of queer music, fashion and the future. This year’s self-titled debut EP was the first away from her iconic band The Gossip and just different enough to be interesting. The more electronic sound is helped by collaboration with Simian Mobile Disco, who seem to give Ditto’s bold voice just the right direction.

1 – MEN – Talk About Body

Former LeTigre member JD Samson launched a new group, MEN, slowly over the last few years, beginning as a DJ duo and morphing into a truly innovative electro-artrock outfit. So even though it seems like they’ve been around awhile 2011 saw their first album release and Talk About Body was a hit. Their debut music video wasn’t liked by all but it was certainly talked about. The LA Times called it the brain informing the boogie. Who knew that activism could be so danceable? For a lot of queer people, myself included, this is the perfect (re)mix.

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