Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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CQ Roundup, April 27

By Christopher Treacy

This week’s roundup is an embarrassment of riches that showcases some serious musical diversity from Tennessee, California, Minnesota, and Texas… even the UK. From Boston by way of Canada and Vermont by way of Boston. Included are two tracks from CQ alums, our first look at work from Diane Coffee (a.k.a. Foxygen’s Shaun Fleming) and an ode to being single from Zack Joseph, plus a transfixing new tune from Chastity Brown. Have at it!


Song of the Week: Zack Joseph – “Better Off Alone”

Nashville-based Joseph returns this week with this bright, jaunty twirler about being single, an Exclusive Premiere for Country Queer.  Sitting, thinking, drinking… Joseph weaves a familiar tale, but he makes a less common assertion. “Is it really that bad? Is it really that sad? I’m beginning to think I’m better off alone,” he sings, skipping past the depression and heartbreak in pursuit of the truth: is it really worth all this recurring disappointment just to not be single? Each situation is different, obviously, and all relationships require work and sacrifice. But it’s a worthwhile conversation. Surely we all know folks that seem desperate to avoid flying solo, but maybe being coupled is overrated. Or, conversely, maybe some of us give up too easily. Check this space tomorrow when we’ll have a short Q&A with Zack Joseph about this very topic.

Chastity Brown – “Wonderment”

It begins like an otherworldly hymn. Then, the slightest murmur of an electric guitar helps build the subtle groove that eventually bursts open this powerhouse tune, the first from Brown’s forthcoming album, Sing to the Walls, coming June 17th. With her distinctive voice multi-tracked and way out front, Brown sings of finding freedom in letting go of what she can’t control. The song continues surging into an edgy, rocking apex and then suddenly recedes, revealing a soulful organ buried beneath… strange and wondrous, indeed.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

Diane Coffee – “The Great Escape”

The latest single from former Foxygen touring drummer and sometimes Disney voice actor Shaun Fleming’s musical project, Diane Coffee, is a breezy ride… in a Nissan, Honey. Fleming takes to the road, “…looking for a lifeline, hoping that somebody’s around.” Their forthcoming new album, With People, finds Fleming mining their upbringing for, “a collection of diaristic ruminations and contemplative observations of the people in their life,” but taken on its own, “The Great Escape” is just a great road trip tune that reminds of a certain Traveling Wilburys song. Plus, the dogs in the video are totally adorbs.

Kristian Montgomery & The Winterkill Band – “If I Live to See Virginia”

Toothy and direct, Montgomery whips up a fine electric blues here, lamenting a past love that won’t leave him alone. “If I can’t close my eyes and make you go away,” he croons, “If I live to see Virginia, I might find my way.” This track comes from A Heaven for Heretics, the third pandemic release from Montgomery, who recently relocated from the South Shore of Massachusetts to Vermont. We’ll see if farmhouse living mellows him any—another new album is already in the works.  

Danni Nicholls – “Little Fictions”

“Can’t blame the stars for not aligning/Can’t blame the path for how it’s winding,” the UK-based Nicholls sings with resignation amid swelling strings and strummed guitars on this plaintive, mournful ballad. A bold, cinematic tune that showcases her voice, “Little Fictions” is a self-produced one-off, but Nicholls is due to release a new full length soon—her last, The Melted Morning, arrived in 2019. Stay tuned.

Secret Emchy Society – “Think I Do”

The latest from former CQ Editor in Chief Cindy Emch and her Secret Society is a classic country ditty about… your trashy neighbors! Simultaneously hilarious and depressing, Emch pulls no punches with this dim view of the alcohol-fueled backyard drama most of us have witnessed (and, let’s face it, some of us have also participated in).  It’s all good fun in the name of… well, in the name of good fun. Find out more when we post our new interview with Emch later this week and be on the lookout for Gold Country~Country Gold in late May.

Joel Brogon – “Little Warbler”

Most of the songs on Brogon’s new Unlock the Doors EP feature images of birds, flight, and freedom. “Little Warbler” finds Brogon channeling indie-John-Denver vibes, admiring an avian visitor, envious of the bird’s ability to fly away from our troubled world. A Texas-based organic baker who also dabbles in photography, Brogon’s appreciation for nature is touching enough to make you wonder if you’re caught up in things that just don’t matter.

Sara Gougeon – “Sick”

Our former CQ Roundup editor’s new album, The Long Road, arrived last week and “Sick” is just one in a handful of stunning tracks. Gougeon’s guitar work keeps you guessing as she repeatedly lands in surprising places while creating a mysterious narrative that seems to be about the false comfort of emotional dependency—something she manages to make sound quite lovely.

Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He lives in Buffalo, NY.

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