By Annie Parnell, Managing Editor
I am back home and beyond excited to bring you this installment of Buried Treasure! This week, we’ve got some bedroom pop-influenced releases from Brian Bulger and Sug Daniels, as well as two gender-defying anthems about being yourself from Ginger Minj and Tony & the Kiki. There’s a real theme here of stepping outside the box and living more truly as yourself — and for many queer people, as is explored in Bulger and Daniels’ music, that may mean leaving behind a beloved church community.
Before we get to the tunes I’d like to highlight some of the people who need help on the ground for the good work they do in Louisiana and Texas. Imagine Water Works and Southern Solidarity have been doing necessary work in the New Orleans area in the wake of Hurricane Ida. AVOW Texas, formerly known as NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, are dedicated to the unapologetic support of women’s healthcare and abortion access. Both these organizations, as well as many others affected by Hurricane Ida and SB-8, need our help now more than ever — if you have the means to assist, please do so.
Brian Bulger — “Bad in a Good Way”
Brian Bulger mixes rootsy strings with an alt-pop beat in this ode to personal growth and unpacking religious trauma. The emotional lyrics are juxtaposed nicely with this easy, upbeat sound. Despite the heavy themes Bulger says, “it’s a song of freedom, joy, and self love.”
Over a Clairo-style guitar upswing, the catchy chorus resolves the song’s tensions of leaving a restrictive past behind: “you and me’ve gone bad in a good way, I promise.”
Sug Daniels — Franklin Street
Sug Daniels’ warm, folk-influenced lo-fi is infectious, something that was already clear on the single “Space & Time” that dropped ahead of this EP. Out now, the full span of four songs dwells in nuance and forgiveness, handling political strife, unrequited crushes on friends, and the isolation that Sug faced after coming out and leaving the church community of her home in rural Delaware. Cozy and tender, Franklin Street takes all this turmoil and focuses on the process of healing and going “back to love.”
Ginger Minj — “Walk Tall”
Coming home after a recent performing stint that included Broadway and the Netflix feature film Dumplin’, RuPaul’s Drag Race album Ginger Minj has penned an inspirational country ballad in “Walk Tall,” the lead single from her upcoming country debut Double Wide Diva. Exploring the tension between an unsupportive father and a gender-affirming mother through the purchase of an important pair of “ruby slippers,” Minj focuses on the positive, urging listeners to “carry on” and be their true selves.
Tony & the Kiki — “Extra Express”
Tony & the Kiki promise and deliver on this bilingual ode to defying norms and following your joy. “I envision The Extra Express as a vehicle that takes us from this very ‘real’ three-dimensional terrestrial place to a land of glamour, joy, love, and light,” says frontperson Anthony Alfaro, whose energetic presence in the song’s psychedelic music video is sure to dazzle. “There’s only one of you, so be true to your dream,” Alfaro insists shortly after the soulful chorus, layered in retro-rock production that pays homage to queer pioneers of color Little Richard and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
“Buried Treasure” is your weekly guide to under-the-radar queer artists in country, Americana, and folk. Know an artist who should be included? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!