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They Got the Beat

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BY David Byrne

with additional reporting by Tony Peregrin

With the release of his solo debut Electric Blue, Andy Bell is not closing the Erasure chapter of his career, rather he turns the pages back to the dance pop sound from his Wild! and Chorus days. Due out Oct. 4 on Sanctuary Records, Electric Blue has Bell getting a little help from his friends—Claudia Brucken of Propaganda and Jake Sheers of Scissors Sisters duet with the 'Chains of Love' singer and the producers the Manhattan Clique ( Moby, Goldfrapp ) provide the backdrop. Bell will be showing off his DJ skills in addition to making appearances to plug Electric Blue. In case it is Erasure you are after, the duo is releasing a 25-track DVD Live in Cologne from the Erasure Show Tour.

Per, Melissa Etheridge is slated to talk about her breast cancer experience with students this fall as a surprise lecturer for MtvU's show Stand In, where celebrities host discussions that are broadcast at universities and online. Etheridge will be releasing The Greatest Hits: The Road Less Traveled Oct. 4, featuring a cover of Tom Petty's 'Refugee.' A companion deluxe version with DVD will be out Oct. 18. In conjunction with her hits collection, the two-time Grammy winner will host Lifetime Television's Signature Breast Cancer Awareness Special, WomenRock! Our Journey with Melissa Etheridge, which is scheduled to air on Oct. 18.

While blogs are virtually everywhere on-line, leave it to RuPaul to provide the most entertaining diary at . Whether he is chronicling a trip to a colonic clinic, one of his many celebrity encounters or his various projects, RuPaul's sense of humor prevails. In his web log, RuPaul reveals that after having two singles from his latest album RuPaul Red Hot! sashay up the Billboard Club Charts, he is working on new material for a remix project, which is due early next year.

The latest buzz-worthy queer-fronted band to surface is Antony and the Johnsons. The band's sophomore outing I am like a Bird Now beat out bands like Bloc Party, Coldplay and Kaiser Chiefs for the prestigious Mercury Award. The band's sound is hard to categorize, it has the craft of seasoned song-writers, set to piano-based stripped jazz and the androgynous growl of Nina Simone. Boy George and Antony sing an homage to unique friendship that gay guys have with each other on 'You're My Sister.' An EP for the song featuring the video is due out this fall. The Boy and Antony even recorded a cover of John Lennon's 'Happy Christmas—War is Over' for the Warchild charity compilation Help: A Day in the Life. Antony and the Johnsons are scheduled to appear at Park West Oct. 4.

Looking for a camp fix? Check out the trio Bodies without Organs. Alexander Bard, the mad scientist behind the groups Army of Lovers, Vacuum, and Alcazar, returns with his latest incarnation, often dubbed BWO. Singer Martin Rolinski resembles Leif Garrett from his pin-ups days and keyboardist Marina Schiptjenko could be Anjelica Houston's long-lost sister. The openly gay Bard wishes to create a band that is completely computerized, he even admits that popular rock bands are impressed with his computer prowess. After listening to songs like 'Sixteen Tons of Hardware' and 'Conquering America,' it is clear that BWO is influenced by fellow Swedes ABBA and synth heavy pioneers like the Pet Shop Boys as well as Kraftwerk. BWO's debut Prototype is out now as an import in limited release, but will hit the shelves in the U.K. on EMI this fall.

Junior Senior, the Danish duo of virtual polar opposites—one's gay, the other's not; one's diminutive, the other's not; returns to the dance floor with the track 'Itch U Can't Scratch.' Best known for their Off the Wall-inspired party anthem 'Move Your Feet,' Junior Senior works with Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson from the B-52s on the song 'Take My Time' from the humorous pair's forthcoming record Hey Hey My My Yo Yo.

Cabaret singer Lee Lessack is joined by his friends on his latest effort In Good Company. The native from the city of brotherly love sings love songs effortlessly with male and female counterparts. In Good Company is highlighted by interpretations of such favorites as 'If You Go Away,' 'The Look of Love' and a surprisingly effective take on Journey's 'Open Arms.' Pulling double duty, the handsome tenor heads the label LML Music, feeling that this genre is often overlooked and there is much talent out.

For those who are in need to spice up their playlist, Rock Out offers a pink alternative and broadcasts through and . Rock Out boasts queer artists, music news, videos, as well as a list of popular downloads and message boards.

Chicago's breakout rap star and producer, Kanye West, is pleading for an end of homophobia in the hip hop world while promoting his sophomore album Late Registration. On the song 'Hey Mamma,' Kanye recounts how he faced being called a mama's boy, which turned self doubt into homophobic thoughts. After the sharp-dressed rapper found out he has a gay cousin, a new realization dawned upon him. Today, West calls upon his musical counterparts to practice the communal acceptance that most hip hop symbolizes. Kanye hopefully has sparked something here, starting revolutions is in his blood—West's father was a Black panther and his grandfather participated in civil-rights marches.

Tara Angell makes a stunning bow with her insightful debut Come Down. Easily one of the best albums of the year, Come Down has blues/rock-influenced numbers and mind-wrenching ballads throughout. Finally released earlier this year on Rykodisc, Angell's set is a labor of love, taking more than two years to get out. The sexy New Yorker's sound is quite her own, blending styles of PJ Harvey, the voice of a younger Marianne Faithful, the seldom-seen dark side of Sheryl Crow and the musical landscape familiar to the Cowboy Junkies. 'Hollow Hope' is certainly up-tempo, but the lyrics prove griping nonetheless. Not all of Tara's material is dark, 'Bitch Please' has chatter from a cocktail party in the background as she sings her reality to her rival. But Angell gets intimate with the listener on the ultimate closing track 'The Big One.' With a debut like Come Down, Tara Angell proves she is an artist whose name will come up again in her bright future.

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