By Christopher Treacy
Tomorrow, July 14, is International Non-Binary Day, and CQ is celebrating with a trio of exclusive premieres from non-binary artists in this week’s Roundup that collectively showcase how diverse the queer talent pool has become. Actually, the talent pool has always been diverse, the difference is that we’re now openly discussing it and heralding it for what it is. The pronouns may shift, but the emotions described in songs are universal, which is why music is so penetrative – it transcends! Except, maybe, if you’re thinking about killing a bunch of people because you got snubbed… more on that tomorrow. Enjoy!
Song of the Week, Exclusive Song & Video Premiere:
Tall Poppy String Band – “The Train That Carried My Man From Town”
Tall Poppy String Band’s debut album arrives on streaming, digital, and CD July 29 with vinyl to follow in early 2023 (pre-order all formats here). Today, we’re thrilled to exclusively premiere a track from the album and a live video performance from this year’s Wintergrass Festival, which took place in Seattle this past February. The clip shows off the group’s gift for tight harmony and each member has a moment to shine individually with their instrument.
With 2 out of 3 Tall Poppy members identifying as non-binary, it seemed like a no-brainer to premiere this barn-burner on the eve of International Non-Binary Day, but TPSB’s treatment of the song also begs discussion. Vocalist and claw banjo ninja Cameron DeWhitt flipped the script on this traditional tune with the shift of a pronoun, but it’s not necessarily for the reasons you might assume! Want to know more? We did too, so we’ve got a Q&A with Cameron coming tomorrow that’ll dive into this topic a bit deeper. In the meanwhile, here’s Tall Poppy String Band… come for the old-timey feel, stay for the train sounds!
Exclusive Song Premiere: Jacklen Ro – “Side by Side”
“Just think of me/That’s all I need, Darlin,” Jackie Giroux croons in the new Jacklen Ro track, premiering exclusively at CQ this week. A song about a love being tested by distance, Jackie Giroux and Caelen Perkins have once again delivered a single with a lyrical twist that gives pause. The last line of the tune seems to indicate that the relationship doesn’t survive the test, throwing a bittersweet cloud over the scene, but there’s no darkening those hollered harmony vocals on the chorus.
Exclusive Video Premiere: EVVAN – “Craving”
No, you’re not experiencing déjà-vu. We included EVVAN’s new single in the CQ Roundup for June 29th. But we’re running it again this week because of their new self-directed video clip for the tune, which premiers below, exclusively on Country Queer, in honor of International Non-Binary Day.
Here’s what we said two weeks ago: EVVAN’s latest is a follow up to their Mother’s Day single, “Mama, You Taught Me,” which was a Song of the Week. “Craving” rocks significantly harder. Beginning with some light percussive touches, the track builds into a tribal groove before completely blowing up at the chorus and later, giving way to an electric guitar solo. En route, EVVAN tackles issues of gender identity and expression. “‘Craving’ came from a point of confusion and frustration over the gender binary,” the New York-based artist explained. “I want to tell those who don’t experience it themselves about the real life difficulties in understanding how the world isn’t as simplistic as man and woman. The spectrum is much more expansive and not only involves gender, but gender expression and sexuality.”
Mariel Buckley – “Driving Around”
Buckley’s new single comes on with a more delicate approach than the propulsive “Shooting at the Moon,” giving us additional insight to the sound of her forthcoming full length, Everywhere I Used to Be, produced by Marcus Paquin, (out 8/12 on Birthday Cake). Contemplative but strummy, she offers scenes from her youth, juxtaposing local sites against a recurring romantic/sexual image in the chorus: “When the lights come on/And the sun goes down/I’m gonna lay you down/In the backseat of whatever I’m driving/Driving around,” she sings. The subtlety of the musical delivery is deceiving: Buckley has taken what’s considered a somewhat innocent rite of passage for heterosexual teens (i.e., making out in the back of the car) and thrown a gay twist on it while upping the contrast with glimpses of fixtures from her formative years. And then there’s the idea of a car symbolizing freedom. Perhaps the backseat is the only place they could be alone, a place where things felt “normal,” whatever the hell that means. The car itself? Not nearly as important, as Buckley is content to be with her love in whatever she’s driving around. The specifics of the car don’t matter, just that it keeps her life moving. Check out this new performance video of the song!
Valerie Rose Lohman – “Easy to Love”
The clang of and electric guitar and a breathy, swooping vocal fuel this track from VRL, an L.A. based voiceover artist that’s dabbled in theatre and is now producing her own music, which she refers to as ‘witch-rock.’ Using powerful images from the Tarot deck, Lohman serves up a track brimming with outlaw snarl and sinister overtones. “Love is an act of bravery, regardless of its outcome,” she said about the song. “I wanted to capture the beauty and pain that can come out of the end of a relationship. Imagery of classic tarot cards also heavily inspired the piece, which was incredibly important to me.”
Kristen Ford – “Lisa Frank”
This contagiously scrappy rocker from Kristen Ford, “…is a song about life being messy, colorful and packed with surprises,” according to the author. “It’s a pride anthem and nod to the 90s culture which helped raise me. This video was a mostly women-led, queer crew, the drums were tracked by D Flood at The Bomb Shelter (Alabama Shakes) in Nashville TN.”
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 Waitsfield, VT.
Got new music? Submit it to CQ.