BitchTapes: Queercore Now and Forever

Mel Mundell
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In the 1980s, much of queer music typically conjured up opposing, yet equally stereotyped portraits: smooth-chested hunks and bejeweled queens go-going to monotonous club hits, crew-cut lesbians listening to bland festival-folk soundtracks. With ever-rebellious teenage spirit, queer youth of the 1980s sought to sever themselves from their rainbow-clad elders. Gay/lesbian culture when held under punk's self-made lens, appeared conformist: revealing middle class complacency, and a shadow of soon-to-be-discovered consumer-marketing potential.

In 1984 in Toronto, ON, home of Canada's largest gay and lesbian community, G.B. Jones and cohort Bruce LaBruce assembled a zine called J.D.s filling Xeroxed pages with a dreamed-up scene where queers and punks were one. They coined the term homocore (later changing it to queercore) and started what would become an alternative to both punk and gay/lesbian culture.

Soon queercore chapters started across North America and Europe, and along with them: bands, labels, zines, distros and self-empowered queer youth.  Queercore eventually lost its strict punk aesthetics, while retaining its ideals, and began to encompass indie-rock, hip-hop, metal, experimental and even music similar to the mainstream gay culture early queercore members rejected: dance. And although largely associated with 1990s bands like Team Dresch, Pansy Division, Fifth Column, Sister George and Tribe 8, never has queercore been more alive than it is today. This BitchTapes features some latest and lesser-known queercore artists—I hope you enjoy!

1. Gay Beast - Smithereens

Turn up the stereo to full blast for Gay Beast's title track off their brand new record To Smithereens. Their bio says: “Gay Beast have garnered a reputation for uniqueness on the rock fringe, their sound being both too weird for the stereotype of a “gay band” and “too gay” for the noise-rock set.”  Are gay bands a gimmick?  I'm pretty sure whoever says so might end up crushed to…

2. tUnE yArDs - Bizness

The syncopated soul of musician/producer Merrill Garbus who made the recent leap from self-releasing cassettes to getting signed to 4AD.  Bizness is from her second album w h o k i l l, officially out at the end of April.  Link to the video!

3. Rx and Benni E - Rockets

From an EP collaboration Such a Nerd, emcee Benni E is stomping in the footsteps of Bay Area mid-'90s queer hip-hop legends Rainbow Flava and Deep Dickollective.  For more on homo-hop, check out Alex Hinton's documentary Pick Up The Mic.

4. Bunny Rabbit - Dirty Dirt (warning: explicit language)

Queer erotic and environmental electro-crunk?  Yep.  Hearts broke when Bunny Rabbit split in 2008 after their only record Lovers and Crypts was released on queer record label Voodoo EROS.  BUT both producer/emcee Black Cracker and vocalist Bunny have started new projects! 

5. No Bra - Minger

Elusive London, England based Susanne Oberbeck's pornographic, yet disinterested lyrics and minimalist disharmonies have enchanted art and experimental music audiences alike.  Her song Doherfuckher featured in queercore original Bruce LaBruce's film Otto or up With Dead People.  Read DIVA magazine's interview with Oberbeck where she talks about using humor to undermine sexual and gender categories.

6. Former Ghosts - In Earth's Palm

One part Xiu Xiu, the other Zola Jesus and still another This Song is a Mess But So Am IFormer Ghosts are a super trio of visceral synth-pop experimenters. 

7. Austra - Young and Gay

Toronto-based dark-wave dance group Austra recently signed to Domino and are releasing their debut album this May!

8. NO/HO/MO - Fuck the Funk

NO/HO/MO is a Portland, OR-based queercore/synthpunk musical and visual arts group who “seek to expose the absurdity of homophobic phrases, such as no homo and pause.”

9. Purple Rhinestone Eagle - Burn It Down

Portland, OR-based witchy psychrock complete with long hair and fuzz pedals–check out their latest record and tour dates.

10. Girl in a Coma - Yo Oigo

Mexican-American female 3-piece release rockabilly, garage-punk and Texas blues on Joan Jett's Blackheart Records, this song is off their 2010 release Adventures in Coverland.

11. Hunx & His Punx - Lover's Lane

Former Gravy Train!!!! front man Seth Bogart has abandonded electro-trash for the bubblegum-blowing nostalgia of the 1960s, touring his sophomore release Too Young To Be In Love with an all-female backing band accurately titled His Punkettes.

12. Des Ark - Girls Get Ruff

Nocturnal folk songs of singer songwriter Aimee Argote.  Listeners sleepily drift into a dreamworld of broken hearts and slow-motion bar brawls.

13. Les Beyond - Dancing On My Own

Experimental drone of former Shearing Pinx member Erin Ward.  Currently residing in Montreal with a family of rescue animals, you really ought to check out her girlfriend Julie's queer radio show With Gay Abandon.

Thanks friends for helping me put together this mix!  What queer music have you been listening to lately?

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3 Comments Have Been Posted

Hi, Loved the mixtape,

Hi, Loved the mixtape, especially Girl in a Comma. Those Mexicans seem to love the rockabilly. Heres a video that stood out for me a few months ago. I discovered it through Tom Robinson who should really have been in your mix tape 'Glad to Be Gay' an iconic song of its day.

Heres the video, I think by the sounds of your mixtape it will be up your street.

Great information...always

Great information...always loved these music

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