By Christopher Treacy
Here in the Northeast, it took an unusually long time for spring to have sprung. When it arrived, it felt more like summer. Which is fine with me since I spend most of the year anticipating summer. Although most of the month of June is technically still spring, I associate Pride with summer, and so this week’s CQ Roundup has me filled with summery sensations. These unabashedly queer tunes bring the heat, especially the new Mya Byrne single and the latest from Corner House, a Boston-born quartet with astounding musical chops.
Springtime is a time of renewal and rebirth. The ground warms, and everything around us comes back to life, but the mornings and evenings are still a bit chilly. That contrast keeps me thankful for the seasonal shift, before it becomes hot all day and I start taking summer for granted. It’ll be over all too quickly; the music helps me stay in the moment.
Song of the Week: Mya Byrne – “Where the Lavender Grows”
Kicking off ‘Pride Season’ a couple weeks early (nothing wrong with that!), trans-Americana heroine Mya Byrne serves up this strident new track as the debut single for Kill Rock Stars Nashville, a new imprint of the stalwart indie label that helped launch artists like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, The Gossip, and Elliot Smith. “It could be days, it could be months, it could be weeks/Just wait for winter to fade,” she sings in real time—she began the recording process less than a month ago. Within the song’s narrative she creates a safe space where queer folks can gather in their own time… when they’re ready. There’s no pressure, no reason to hurry. The message is supported by a buoyant melody that’s both reassuring and hopeful, lyrically mirrored by two natural processes: the shift of seasons and the growth of flowers. For folks often told their very being is unnatural, this is nothing short of an anthemic balm.
Emma Ayres – “So It Goes”
Azorean-American folkie Emma Ayers delivers this mesmerizing taster from their upcoming full length, Hard Work, out 6/4. With a video made from old-school, hand drawn animation, directed and animated by Gaia Alari, the track depicts a looping memory of lost love… and it aches. It also stuns with jazzy undercurrents and a jaw-dropping bass solo from Asher Marino that travels way up into the melody. Sometimes simplicity triumphs: the video has been shortlisted by Short To The Point international film fest as Best Music Video.
Corner House – “Angel Falls”
Born of Boston’s Berklee School of Music, Corner House’s progressive bluegrass-pop will appeal to fans of the Nickel Creek/Punch Brothers/Crooked Still sound, but the delightfully assertive queer sentiment of “Angel Falls” is something all their own. A reflection of a conversation with cellist Casey Murray, as told by sole lyricist Ethan Hawkins, the song doubles down on our inalienable human right to love the way we choose. “I am human / I have choices / To love who I want to love / I have a right,” Hawkins sings on the chorus of a track that’s rife with powerful imagery and a video clip that features lovely vintage photos of same-sex couples. Featuring Maeve Gilchrist, producer of the band’s forthcoming full length, on the harp.
River Westin – St. Tropez
A dreamy amalgam of vintage production and modern sensibilities runs throughout Westin’s Candy Cigarettes EP and “St. Tropez” picks up right where it left off. Brimming with romantic overtones, the song charms as a snapshot of a love he continues pining for. As was the case with previous single, “Maraschino,” the track projects eroticism mixed with a slight hint of bitterness. Perhaps it just wasn’t meant to last, but it sounds hot. “Let me feel your love baby, kissing in the rain/Let me feel your love baby, crashing in the waves/Dreaming of our summer in St. Tropez.” Can you smell the suntan oil?
Jon Campbell feat. Luminous Crush – “Edward”
An American born artist living in Berlin, Jon Campbell’s latest is a collaboration with dream-pop duo Luminous Crush. The song’s rhythm begins with stomps and claps before establishing itself with more of a western swing while Campbell’s lyric portrays emotional complexity: how do we reconcile hurting someone we love? Campbell likes to use brass and woodwinds to flesh out his songs, and “Edward” is no exception, featuring Merav Goldman on French horn.
Kimayo – “Becoming Untamed”
“Becoming Unatmed” finds New England’s Kimayo reveling in an animal spirit, getting back to nature with her feet dancing in the soil. Think of this new-to-us track released last year as a reclamation and a celebration all rolled into one. “Kimayo’s new single is a quest of re-wilding, a re-claiming of your authentic-self,” press materials explain. “This song expresses Kimayo’s journey of shedding expectations and old belief systems to awaken intuition, curiosity, and self-love.” You can definitely feel the fervor.
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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