Written by: Vincent Nijenhuis
In a year where we lost two of the most iconic musicians who experimented in both their gender expression, and sexuality, let’s take a look at 10 of the best tracks of the year made by LGBTQIA+ musicians.
The only worth while song on Blanco’s first full length album, Mykki, just happens to be one of the best songs to be released this year. The atmospheric synth beat matched with the strings on this track enhance Blanco’s unique, slushed vocal styling to create a sense of overwhelming nostalgia for a time where being self-destructive was simply part of existing. Her power on this track is in its simplicities; its guttural punch of simmering emotion.
This is one of the most obnoxious, jarring tracks that came out this year, and I loved it. The track features Kathleen Hanna’s biting screams during bad acid trip set through heavy distortion with an equally psychotic beat to match with Seth Bogart vocals warning her tasting “the cheap stuff” is insanity. Seth Bogart, the hatefuck lovechild of John Waters, and David Lynch, dares you to hate the track, but at the same time, dares you to embrace his chaos and “drive yourself crazy.”
- Xiu Xiu – Wondering
I’m going to keep it brief on this one. (If you want to hear more, check out my review on this track here.) Xiu Xiu is having fun with optimism for once instead of being obsessed with depression and rejection, and it’s great. This song is like seeing your friend smile for the first time in years, and hoping that they can find more reasons to smile each day.
- Anohni – Drone Bomb Me
Anohni is boldly political on this waking nightmare of a track. This song is literally about someone who would rather die than face their daily life in their war torn country. Anohni’s vocals on this track are filled with a hopeful sadness which matches the subject matter. It’s deeply depressing realization that is many people’s reality. It’s not emotional manipulative, it’s just raw agony she let’s us be witness to.
- Tacocat – I Hate the Weekend
This quartet makes some of the best subversive sugar coated punk music out today, and did not disappoint with their lead single off their album Lost Time. Fearless in their approach to the tackle what quote unquote ‘academics’ would consider difficult subject matter, Tacocat has always focused on what would be considered impolite to talk about at dinner into a subversive message into a blast most won’t catch on first listen. It is a perfectly tongue in cheek indictment about the entitlement of tech bros, and gentrification that we can all dance along to.
- David Bowie – Blackstar ★
David Bowie left us with one song to comfort us in his departure. His cooing, knowing vocals are there trying to tell us, but not daring to tell us it’s okay. It’s jarring in how daring, and upfront it is about the knowing nature of foreseeing his death. It would be easy for many critics to dismiss this track’s hype to his death, but it is truly one of the best songs he’s ever released. It is his last reminder of what he was, a “Blackstar.”
- Hardly Boys – Goodwill
This Seattle based band made the best song to come out this year that manages to be slow and take its time, and yet, still be under one minute long. Anna White’s husky dream like vocals on this song is the perfect breath in an album filled with punky, fast paced noise. This song is an ode to Goodwill, but without the irony one might come to expect with that premise. It’s earnest in the same way a girl’s diary is. It’s not trying to be cool, and heartwarming; it simply is.
- PWR BTTM – New Hampshire
PWR BTTM steps even deeper into hopeless nihilism with this track. The entire track sounds like someone’s suicide note, and washes over you in these waves of varying depression the more you listen to the track. There is not cutesy romanticism, but instead, the uncomfortable honesty we have come to expect from PWR BTTM. (Check out the live KVRX Library Session of this track, it’s even more brutal in its emotion than the recorded version.)
- Ezra Furman – Teddy I’m Ready
This is a track that I would feel completely comfortable crying to, and blasting out of my nonexistent car on a beautiful sunny day on my way to the beach. It’s a chameleon in that way. Ezra Furman’s longing vocals matched with the heavy indie nostalgia are enough to provoke anything and everything. This is a track that demands you to feel. It doesn’t tell you how to feel, but simply demands an emotional response.
- Mamtos – Ultimate Care II
The premise of this song sounds like a Portlandia sketch. It’s one 38 minute long song using nothing, but samples from a washing machine. This album isn’t at all pretentious, it’s joyous. The song goes from sounding like a brilliant trap beat to african tribal music to staccato strings, and handles those transitions with grace and beauty. This is a track unlike anything else that came out this year, and leaves me with a dorky grin every time I listen to it.