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Pop Making Sense
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin
2010-05-19

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On Lessons from the Late Night, Hunter Valentine is not short on eyeliner or grit. Lead singer Kiyomi McCloskey finds herself being the title character in "The Stalker." On its infectious chorus she sings, "I like your smile when you go/ It helps me deal, it helps me cope." "Treadmills of Love" and "Revenge" prove that this female trio can rock. "She Only Loves Me When She's Wasted" is a fantastic, contemporary riot grrrl counterpart to the Pet Shop Boys' "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk."

Originally from Toronto and now residing in Brooklyn, Hunter Valentine is slated to play at pride events in Los Angeles, Portland and Toronto. Lessons from the Late Night is out now on Tommy Boy Entertainment.

The experience of losing its guitarist mid-tour in 2008 provided material for The Shondes' sophomore outing, My Dear One. The quartet returns with its replacement six-stringer Fureigh in fine form on the title track and "Gather up Your Players." This is definitely a break-up album, but it is not two-dimensional. The album ends with a positive outlook with "All the Good Things," "Make It Beautiful" and "Twilight." That does not take the impact out of bitter "You Ought to Be Ashamed" or "Miami"—which happens to be the last city the Brooklyn act played with its former guitarist.

This band is worth checking out, especially for Tegan and Sara and Dresden Dolls fans. The Shondes will be at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, on Friday, May 28. My Dear One is out now on Fanatic Records.

Looking for something to play in a coffee shop or to help you unwind at the end of the day? OUTMusic Award winner Rachael Sage is back with Delancey St. The talented singer-songwriter recounts a lover leaving her for somebody else on "Hope's Outpost." "Brave Mistake" recalls early Sarah McLachlan. The quiet, yet beautiful piano-based "Wasn't It You" should come with its own herbal tea. The pop-radio friendly "Rich Girl" tells a tale of karma. Thankfully it is not a remake of Gwen Stefani's hit of the same name. Delancey St. is out now on Sage's own label Mpress Records. Sage will be performing at Milwaukee's Pridefest on Saturday June 12.

On Friday, May 21, "Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves." The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, hosts Sister Triple Happiness, as Helen Money, Susan Voelez and Peg Simone share the bill. Forget Robin Hood; cellist Money is crafty with working her bow. The Chicagoan, also known as Alison Chesley, creates unique, atmospheric sounds by using her cello in a less traditional fashion. Money's latest, In Tune, is out now via Table of the Elements.

Peggy Lee's new retrospective, Come Rain or Come Shine, impressively debuted at number 51 on the Billboard album charts. In 2005 Bette Midler had a full-length effort dedicated to the late blonde's material. Madonna successfully turned Lee's smoldering "Fever" into a dance smash in 1992, the same year as Sinead O'Connor's jazz outing, Am I Not Your Girl?, which features covers of Lee's standards "Why Don't You Do Right?" and "Black Coffee."

Gramophonedzie's "Why Don't You" taps Lee's "Why Don't You Do Right." Yes, this is the number that Jessica Rabbit purrs in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? This reworking even keeps some of the brass section of the original, but the newly added beats can keep any party thumping. Parts are choppy, otherwise Gramophonedzie's "Why Don't You" is a perfect way to spice up to DJ set or a workout.

Similarly, Meck transformed Dusty Springfield's "Windmills" into a tremendous upbeat masterpiece. Meck's "Feels Like Home," which samples Felix's "Don't You Want Me," was mashed up with "Like a Prayer" on Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour. This, by far, was the highlight of her world tour. Now Meck's version, "Feels Like a Prayer," has been released with remixes and a video.

Dressed in black with killer boots and face paint, it is no surprise that Ejector comes across as a lovechild of electronic and alternative trailblazers Orgy and Erasure. The playful "Like You" has an irresistibly catchy chorus. "On the Pages" and "Scream Murder" easily could find their way onto Erasure's next album. "Baby Jane?" will be featured in the forthcoming film of the same name, which spoofs the Bette Davis and Joan Crawford classic. The queer duo from San Francisco, consisting of Ben Holder and Rick Terry, also has the outstanding ambient instrumental "Space" here. Ejector's debut On the Pages is out now digitally.

Last year, Blowoff packed The Metro during Bear Pride and International Mr. Leather weekend. The gay DJ team, made up of Bob Mould and Richard Morel, returns Saturday, May 29, to The Metro, 3730 N. Clark, for another gig during the holiday weekend. Expect a lively mix with '80s favorites and dancefloor-fillers. A playlist can be found at www.blowoff.us.

I am saddened to hear of the great Lena Horne's passing. The Grammy and Tony winner will be remembered fondly, especially for her roles in Cabin in the Sky and The Wiz, as well as her striking beauty, signature raspy voice singing "Stormy Weather" and her efforts in striving for racial equality.


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