Welcome to the November instalment of Monthly Tune-Up! There’s only one month left until the new year, and as we’re all getting ready for the holiday season, for Twitter to (perhaps?) implode and being embarrassed by our Spotify Wrapped results, hopefully this roundup of music by LGBTQ2S+ artists can give you a head start on some new favourites and acts to keep an eye on in 2023. From Yves Tumor’s enigmatic rock to Christine and the Queens’ electropop and more, here’s this month’s selection of queer tunes.
“God Is a Circle”—Yves Tumor
Sean Bowie, better known as Yves Tumor, is back with a new single following their 2021 EP The Asymptotical World and their 2020 LP, Heaven to a Tortured Mind, both projects where the enigmatic singer-songwriter explored a 1970s-esque psychedelic rock sound. “God Is a Circle” follows in those sonic footsteps, but with a sharper, punkier, moodier edge this time around. With loud shrieks and heavy breathing straight out of a horror movie, a bassline that powers on throughout the track and dark lyrics describing an unhealthy dynamic and the self-doubt that arises from it, “God Is a Circle” oozes sullen style and panache. It’s the type of song that will make you want to get up and strut with confidence just as much as it’ll have you reflecting on some deeper emotions you’ve been harbouring.
This song may only be one minute and 39 seconds long, but the experimental pop/R&B of HAWA’s “MMMM” flip-flops between time signatures and throws in so many fractured beats that it feels like an amalgamation of several different tracks, extending the runtime in the listener’s heads and ears. The tracklist to the Berlin-born Guinean queer rapper and singer’s debut album HADJA BANGOURA is comprised of short songs, but with its explicit lyrics, playful attitude and smooth but complex production, “MMMM” is a definite standout. It comes in strong and hard, but finishes lethargic and soft, breaking down like the churning wheels of a train slowing to a halt. “MMMM” is perfectly vibey and dynamic.
If you’re looking for an easygoing, catchy rock tune, Big Joanie’s “Today” is here to scratch that itch. Coming off of their sophomore record, Back Home, the queer British feminist punk band made up of Stephanie Phillips, Estella Adeyeri and Chardine Taylor-Stone’s sound is pure punk rock goodness with a splash of riot grrrl energy. The meaty, twangy guitars on “Today” are edgy and even lean into a slight country flair, but the lyrics are on the vulnerable side as Phillips sings about missing someone and wondering where she fits into their life. It’s a song that will give listeners a taste of an early-’90s-rock throwback, but framed through a fresh, modern lens.
Rejection and heartbreak have never sounded so tranquil as they have on “Faded” by queer Montreal-based R&B musician Janette King. The follow-up to her debut 2021 EP, What We Lost, “Faded” depicts a withering relationship. King describes the song as “the feelings that follow when love turns into apathy.” A sense of breezy melancholy floats over the track’s softly plucked strings, spacey bells and guitars and the painful tenderness in King’s singing. “Faded” captures the harrowing reality of not having your needs met by a partner in a relationship you’ve been in for a long time, but with beauty and sensuality—it’s a hurt you’ll want to keep listening to.
“la clairefontaine”—Christine and the Queens (Redcar)
French electropop singer-songwriter Chris of Christine and the Queens, also known by the alias Redcar in his current era of music, is back with his third studio album, Redcar les adorables étoiles, which features the hypnotic and spacey track “la clairefontaine.” The pansexual genderqueer musician is an expert at blending nostalgic ’80s and ’90s synthpop with chic modern electronic music, and “la clairefontaine” is the prime embodiment of that sound. The slow pace takes its time unravelling to reveal all of the production’s intricacies: twinkling synths, soft percussion and pristine vocals from Chris. If a starry night sky could speak, it would sound like this.
“Just Come Home with Me Tonight”—Joesef
Cinematic, brooding and lovelorn, “Just Come Home with Me Tonight” by Scottish bisexual musician Joesef is extremely easy on the ears, but sensitive on the heart. The slow-burning pop/soul song is the latest single from Joesef’s upcoming album, Permanent Damage. Joesef sets the scene in both the lyrics and the sombre tone of the track: he runs into an ex at a party and is crushed to discover they’ve moved on, while he remains heartbroken and pleads for that person to come back to him. Warm harmonies and soothing instrumentals bleed into the chorus, bursting with understated emotion, as though Joesef is trying his best to keep his yearning hidden. “Just Come Home with Me Tonight” is a quintessential late fall/early winter song, and it’ll have you in your drunken feelings during this holiday-party season.