Beats for the beach

Beats for the beach

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Mary Lambert


Tender Heart 

This seven-song EP delivers sexy, sugary dance pop with a sense of humor. It’s also unabashedly queer.

“Hang Out With You” is a catchy ditty about wanting to spend the day with your crush, whether that’s your rescue dog or the cutie you met at the bar. The chorus comes complete with irresistible background “Oh, oh, ohs.”

Lambert’s lusty side is on ample display in “Know Your Name,” an over-the-top number. With a growl in her voice, she details all the things she’d like to do to the gal she’s got her eye on: “But I probably should know your name/When I finally get to,” she sings.

Lambert is sometimes flat-out silly. “Lay Your Head Down” begins as an earnest confessional about sadness, then veers off course during the spoken interlude: “Sometimes I cry when cheese is really good.”

Fortunately for listeners curious to hear Lambert’s serious side, there’s “Love Is Love,” a heartfelt duet with her mom. 

Hurray for the Riff Raff

“The Navigator”

ATO Records

The new release from Alynda Segarra’s band is an ambitious concept album about a woman’s journey; it’s also a fresh take on Americana. Segarra, a Bronx-born runaway who settled in New Orleans before rediscovering her Puerto Rican roots, confidently mixes doo-wop and Springsteen, Cuban son and girl groups — there’s even some Beatles.

What anchors the music is Segarra’s soulful alto. “I got Hurricane/And Big Danny is wasted,” begins “Living in the City,” which includes a brief, slightly askew guitar solo. On “Fourteen Floors,” she explores tenement living accompanied only by piano. “The Navigator” features Latin percussion, reverb-tinged guitar and defiant lyrics. She admonishes: “Oh where will all my people live?/The navigator won’t forgive.”

By the record’s close, Segarra has addressed her Latinx heritage, gentrification and being an independent, creative woman, among other topics. The journey was tough, which is why, on the penultimate cut, she urges, “To all who had to survive, I say/Pa’lante!” 

Plack Blague

“Night Trax”

Ormolycka Records

The latest release from Lincoln, Neb., leather daddy and provocateur Ross “Raws” Schlesinger is a nine-song blast of electronic-body music, complete with insistent beats, random sound effects and guttural vocals. Despite all that noise, you can still dance to it.

Titles like “Leather Life” and “Body Talk” leave little doubt about Plack Blague’s perspective. “Just Another Man of The Street,” the opening track, is a paean to cruising the city streets for anonymous sex. “No names exchanged/It’s so sweet,” Raws sings.

Sometimes the songs are slightly disorienting, even druggy, like “Placktuality,” where the music shifts dramatically about a minute into the song. Fortunately, the propulsive beat will keep listeners nodding along.

Plack Blague’s aggressive aesthetic flirts with comedy, but it’s also unapologetically kinky and queer. And there’s no denying the desire in “Man on Man,” where Raws sings, “I need a man on my erection.”

Overall, “Night Trax” is the perfect soundtrack to your next dungeon party.

Sera Cahoone

“From Where I Started”

Lady Muleskinner Records

Cahoone’s first album in five years is an enjoyable alt-country record. Her clear, bright voice, along with Annalisa Tornfelt’s fiddle and Jason Kardong’s pedal steel guitar, ensure that.

Cahoone’s drumming adds a jaunty “oomph” to some tracks, nudging them towards rock. Her flourish at the end of “House of Our Own” is especially fun.

Most of the 11 songs deal with love found and love lost, typical topics in mainstream country. In Cahoone’s case, however, the lovers are women.

Her lyrics are marked by attention to detail. In “Time to Give,” an up-tempo number about budding romance, it’s a harmless habit that sparks her attraction. “Ever since I saw you sittin’ twistin’ your rings on nervous fingers,” she sings.

“Ladybug” deserves special mention. Cahoone wrote this unflinching look at domestic violence within the LGBTQ community about her cousin, Tawnee Baird, who was murdered by her partner. “All the signs were right there/We just couldn’t see,” she sings ruefully.

Diamanda Galás

“All the Way”

Intravenal Sound Operations

Galás’ approach to these six songs, all culled from the American Songbook or the folk tradition, is aggressive and harrowing. Throughout, she hammers at the piano or reels off quick runs while her voice bellows and soars. Sometimes she sustains piercing cries; others, she veers into glossolalia.

On “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” Galás’ piano gestures towards the saccharine strings of Billie Holiday’s version, but her vocals stretch the words until the lyrics lose all meaning. Similarly, she transforms the wistful yearning of Sinatra’s “All the Way” into a threat: “But if you’ll let me love you/It’s for sure I’m gonna love you all the way.”

The album’s centerpiece is “O Death,” clocking in at just under 11 minutes. The apocalyptic tone and athletic vocals — Galás wails and screams before breaking into a gasping, syllabic pant — make you wonder who’s more at risk, the singer or the Grim Reaper.

Not for the fainthearted but well worth hearing.

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