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Queercore

Hello everyone -- my name is Midol and this is the third column on queercore I've done for Oasis. This one is short, and text-only too. I figured since the last columns were so much about historical stuff that it would be cool to review a few new records that actually came out within the last few months.

Also, the term "queercore" was something coined by the British music press and/or the UK band Sister George. It seems to have stuck, as a more inclusive term than "homocore", and a more general term than "queer punk". Feel free to use any word you want. I'm not trying to define "queercore" but I do use it liberally, so let's just let that be known.

This time: five reviews of CD's and two magazine mentions. I'd like to have more info later but I'm pretty busy at the moment. Hopefully, next time I'll have more to write about -- like maybe the new Team Dresch and Tribe 8 albums... until then, here's a few nuggets that you really need to hear.

Pansy Division "Wish I'd Taken Pictures" CD (Lookout) -- This, their third full-length album (and fourth CD) may be the one to finally break them through to the non-queercore world. It's not all that different than their other stuff -- twangy guitar, somewhat nasal vocals, sex-tinged lyrics; love it or hate it. But, there is also some variation on here that will come as a surprise and maybe even a relief to others that they can and do indeed change their approach a bit. You've got your carefree staples like "Horny In The Morning", as well as the poppy titled track: the first single (and excellent video!) "I Really Wanted You" and the distorted curveball "Expiration Date, which you wouldn't know was them unless someone told you. If you're a fan, you may find this to be their best yet -- if not, you probably skipped this review. I'd recommend it as a good starting point -- I think it's their strongest album overall, although some of my favorite songs are on other releases. I'd love to see their video on MTV -- that's all I have to say right now.

Vitapup "An Hour With Vitapup" CD (Plump) -- From NYC comes this arty threesome, not at all unlike a younger Sonic Youth. The queer factor comes from their drummer Melissa, who is also in the band Team Dresch, on the other coast. You may wonder what a queer drummer adds to a band -- listen to her stellar drumming in Vitapup and your question will be answered. This (their first album) is really great -- cool harmonies, original songwriting, and a great mix of styles and sounds. There's spoken word by performance artist Jane Hohenberger (who does nothing for me but might for you), and rappers CNI and Reality of Crew Eye Cue. It's very urban sounding -- you can hear the beeps and bustle of NYC traffic and people in their feedback and noisy melodies. Very diverse and actually quite exciting record, a big improvement from their singles, and most definitely on your shopping list.

Skunk Anansie "Paranoid and Sunburnt" CD (Sony) -- This has actually been out a while, but it needs to be mentioned. I saw a huge piece on them in Vibe, and nowhere in the article did it mention that their singer Skin was a lesbian. This is really frustrating, since she's so totally out that it seemed pretty unavoidable. But avoid it they did, so now I'm telling you. They are a truly rockin' band -- very metal-influenced and also not unlike many alternative bands -- hard rock with pop sensibility. Skin is a black lesbian from England who sings her heart out about many explosive subjects -- organized religion, racism, trendyness, and the music industry. I seriously can't believe this is on a major label, considering how vocal and radical these subjects are. Oh yeah -- and this record is f**king awesome! It kicks ass. Great acidic songs like "Selling Jesus" and "Intellectualize My Blackness", as well as ballads like "Charity" round out this recording, complementing each other nicely. I heard they may tour soon, so don't miss the chance to see them if they do!

Sleater-Kinney "Call The Doctor" CD (Chainsaw) -- The second album from ex-members of Heavens To Betsy and Excuse 17 -- I'm really digging this record. I wasn't too thrilled with their former bands, so I didn't think I'd like it, but I did. Very urgent, female-driven messages over music that sounds very "Olympia", crossed with Factory bands (I can only mention Joy Division, which doesn't do it justice). Sort of like a more complex and sonically subdued Bikini Kill, although they are far from sounding tame. It's a real mind-boggler, having been stuck in both my CD player and head for the past week now. I can't get enough of it. The lyrics are pretty cool -- confronting prejudice/internalized hatred in a casual, descriptive way that's pretty effective. There's something alarming about a record titled "Call The Doctor", and this band is a screaming red siren if their ever was one. "Some things you lose and some things you give away"...

God Is My Co-Pilot "Puss 02" CD (Making Of Americans) -- This must be their billionth album, meaning I've lost count. If you know them by now, I won't describe them in depth. The best way to understand them is to listen to their music. Arty, doodling skronk; bursts of feminist lyrics and the occasional saxophone; odd instruments that I've never heard of; folk music from Iceland; enough to confuse just about anyone. Great songs include "Pocketful of Sugar", "Chicken Reel", "Musica Caliente" -- all drawing influences from many places, but ripping off no one. I can't decide how it stacks up to their other albums, but it's a definite keeper. A bit of a progression -- not as punky and more experimental than past efforts, this time featuring Yoshimi of the Boredoms on this recording. Complex and disorienting as usual, music for your mind.

Two magazines I'd like to mention:

The good: "Bamboo Girl" -- a zine for ethnic rocker women and their friends. It deals with racism and related issues from a non-white/mixed race perspective, yet retaining the love of good music and this wacky scene we call "punk rock". I can't say I've read a better zine in years -- this zine seriously rocks my world. Three issues later and Sabrina still has me wowed to the max. Send $3 to POB 2828, NYC, NY 10185-2828.

The bad: "XY" -- a national queer youth magazine, aimed at the mainstream magazine market. It's huge, full color, glossy and looks exactly like Out Magazine, leading me to believe that it's one and the same. I'd like to say it's cool, but boy, it is surely not. From the get-go -- a cover with two boys and the caption "Underage," to the millions of pics of softcore porn of young guys -- this is a PORN magazine made for ADULTS using the "gay youth" title as a mere formality. It's produced by adults, written by adults, and read by -- guess who -- adults.

I am utterly shocked and deeply offended that anyone is using the premise of making a necessary publication like a queer youth mag and being so completely exploitative and despicable. When young people are coming out and all they can get is this mag, what does it tell them about themselves? That they are only good as skinny (white) sex toys? Emaciated fashion victims? Queer youth have no power, no clout in determining how we want our lives portrayed. It's no wonder that this magazine takes advantage of that and tries to sell their twisted perspectives back to us, as if they were our own!

Sure, there is some "legitimate" gay youth coverage in this mag (almost all boy, surprise), but it's mostly reprinted from other sources, in between naked young boy after naked young boy. I'm sure they would tell you differently, but it's 100% obvious what the true motivation behind this mag is. Do NOT buy it, don't support it. If you do buy it, and hate it, write me so that we can write a letter together to tell them what we think.

That's it this time -- more positive and friendly discussion later!

xoxo Midol


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