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Pop Making Sense
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin
2011-11-16

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Predating The Runaways and The Go-Go's, Fanny was one of the first all-female rock bands signed to a major label. These pioneers are mentioned in the powerful documentary Hit So Hard, which focuses on Hole's lesbian drummer Patty Schemel.

Fanny members June and Jean Millington return with the album Play Like a Girl. The title track has a fiery inspiration for women artists, "C'mon and rock the world. If they tell you, 'you can't do it,' you just turn it up and play like a girl." "I Love Your Hair!" is an ode to aging naturally and going gaga over grays. The ageless message behind "One for Change" is that change happens one person at a time. "Terrible Things" is not such a terrible thing; it is laid back and smooth.

Sister Jean has a sweet, shy smile, while June has striking, long white locks and is an out lesbian. Play Like a Girl is out now via Fabulous Records.

TimPermanent cleverly tackles Robyn's electro-pop anthem "Dancing on My Own." Here, he adds a queer twist by not changing the lyrics as he sings, "I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her … I'm not the girl you're taking home." Unlike the original, TimPermanent's terrific take is stripped down with just him and an acoustic guitar.

Similar to Robyn's releases, TimPermanent's new EP Resident has both sugary pop-electro numbers and a stirring ballad, "In the Dark." "Busy" is witty, as it captures today's over-caffeinated, fast-paced life, which bleeds nicely into the entrancing rhythm on "Dance Floor Lost." TimPermanent makes a moving plea over electronic beats on "Give It to Me." "Mindset" is an epic piece with hints of drum n bass and layered vocals that would make Imogen Heap proud. The EP Resident and his remake of "Dancing on My Own" are out now.

Sometimes technology gets the best of us. California-based trans-artist Alyras lost her demos for what would become her album Art of Pop ~ Passages 1 in 2004. She was able to unearth nine of these songs and has issued The Unfinished Album.

Throughout the set, there is a clear world-music influence, as well as an R&B flare and spiritual enlightenment. The beautiful "What's My Motivation," has a hip-shaking groove. The opener has a very catchy chorus as Alyras purrs, "I don't know what it is, but baby, there's just somethin' about you." This cut easily could have been from Michael Jackson's Bad or Dangerous sessions.

Both The Unfinished Album and Art of Pop ~ Passages 1 can be found on http:// www.artofpop.com and iTunes.

If The Cars and Blondie procreated in the early '80s and the offspring was raised in England then moved to Brooklyn, that child would be Deluka. The band's fantastic outing, You Are the Night, came out last year. "OMFG" is making an impact stateside. On the chorus, Ellie Innocenti sings, "I try to figure it out, but it is killing me. I need to cut out the noise, it gets on top of me." The album's lead single "Cascade" is one of my favorites from 2010. There is a candy-coated double-clap and a delicious hook that leads into the chorus, "My heart beats like a drum and I know I'm not the only one."

You Are the Night also includes several rock-meets-electro goodies like "Come Back to Me" and "Morning Comes." Deluka is the sole reason I would have gone to Lollapalooza this year. According to the band's website, a follow up to You Are the Night is in the works.

Beloved singer Evelyn "Champagne" King was the subject of an episode of Unsung on TVOne. This program delved into her personal life and touched upon her overlooked yet worthwhile album Open Book. King is best known for the disco hits "Shame" and "Love Come Down."

King returns to her dance-floor roots with "Everybody." This collaboration with San Francisco's Miguel Migs has an irresistibly juicy beat. Remixes of "Everybody" have been commissioned by Aki Bergen and Nav Izadi. Migs' album Outside the Skyline also features Meshell Ndegeocello on "Close Your Eyes" and "Tonight" and Bibel Gilberto on "Zuzu."

There is some humor and a lot of truth to the statement that Brian Kent is the gay male counterpart to Kristine W. Both focus on dance music, have songs with impressively big choruses and convey an uplifting message in their material. The former ice skater's latest, "Su-Su-Su-Superstar," still brings the FDA requirement of sunshine, as he sings "open your eyes and try to see … you're a superstar." Yes, it gives me a happy flashback to "You're a Superstar" by Love, Inc. with Simone Denny on vocal duties.

Mike Ruiz directs the video to "Su-Su-Su-Superstar." Bianca Del Rio and Acid Betty are just some of the many cameos in the clip. Remixes come courtesy of Loverush UK!, Drew G. & Brian Cua, Timothy Allan, Dr. Brooks and Sted-E & Hybrid and are out now. This will satiate us fans until Kent's forthcoming album comes out.


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