New hits from Claud, APW, Troye Sivan and more

Plus the glorious return of Anohni and the Johnsons

Happy end of July, queers, and welcome back to another installment of Monthly Tune-Up. While you’re all recovering from your Barbenheimer double feature hangovers, allow these tunes newly released this month from queer and trans artists to cleanse your pop culture palette, from an Anohni and the Johnsons comeback to bedroom indie rock from Claud and Palehound to heartfelt hip-hop from Kimmortal and more. 

“Scapegoat”—Anohni and the Johnsons

After 13 years since their last album, Anohni Hegarty is back with her band the Johnsons for their fifth studio LP, My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross, and its captivating soul, gospel and chamber pop is well worth the more-than-a-decade wait. On the phenomenal “Scapegoat,” the trans artist confronts transphobia, speaking from the perspective of a bigot who just wants to scapegoat people they see as lesser than themselves for all their hatred and fears. “It doesn’t matter who you are/ Or where you come from/ It doesn’t matter what you’ve got to give/ Or why you want to live/ You’re my scapegoat/ It’s not personal,” she sings. Hegarty’s thick, wavering vibrato mimics the sound of sobbing, and a slow escalation that erupts into a piercing guitar solo cuts straight through the heart. My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross is about many things—climate change, the end of the world, transphobia amidst the constant anti-trans legislation being pumped out right now. If the album cover, a photo of legendary trans activist Marsha P. Johnson (who is also the band’s namesake) doesn’t make that immediately clear, the songs undoubtedly will. “Scapegoat” is a forever song for the times that came before ours, and for the ones we’re living through now.

“Glass Wall”—Claud

Non-binary singer-songwriter Claud’s DIY bedroom pop/rock sound has evolved into a more defined version of itself on their sophomore album, Supermodels, and single “Glass Wall” shows Claud flexing their ability to craft a grungy ’90s banger. Whiny guitars chug along as hazy, blown-out percussion thrash in the choruses, giving off a messy garage band rehearsal vibe in the best way. Claud sings of a disconnect between two people, an emotional separation that, even in close proximity, feels as though a glass wall is wedged between them. Claud injects the right amount of charm into this track to give it an uplifting quality, even if its lyrics suggest the contrary. 

 

“Run”—Kimmortal

Kimmortal’s “Run” is an ode to immigrant mothers and their mothers, a glimpse into the intergenerational trauma that second-generation immigrants and their complicated family structures carry. Released as part of the new album Shoebox from non-binary rapper/singer Kim Villagante, a Filipino-Canadian, the song delves into family mental health struggles and the ways in which pain is passed through bloodlines. A minimalistic hip-hop beat allows Villagante’s emotional poetry to be the focal point of this track. “Run” is powerful and raw storytelling, a full recount of a life—and the many lives that came before it—told in three minutes.

“Estrogen”—Knife Girl

Gender euphoria is boundless and glittering on “Estrogen” by trans Finnish musician and producer Knife Girl, aka Lili Aslo. For fans of SOPHIE, the pioneering trans godmother of hyperpop, “Estrogen” will scratch that insatiable itch in your brains. Knife Girl’s production on this track has a similar sleek, metallic and futuristic sound, with bubbling and warped synths that pop and drop like water droplets, and a dark dance-pop attitude that consumes you wholly. It’s a glorious celebration of transness, trans people and their trans friends and trans bodies. “I love my tits/ I love my dick/ I fill my body up with estrogen,” Knife Girl speak-sings over a stylishly chaotic beat. 

“Learnt Behaviour”—APW

It’s horny sad hours somewhere in the world! Using sex to cover up heartbreak or dissatisfaction with yourself usually won’t make you any less lonely, but it sure is tempting, and that’s exactly what British queer R&B artist APW is all about on his new single, “Learnt Behaviour.” This one is definitely a favourite of mine that I’ve been listening to in July—a lethal combo of jazzy horns, fiery but mellow R&B production and APW’s sky-high falsetto and ridiculously smooth runs make for a stellar song. The track has just enough of a sensual edge mixed in with some gentle melancholy to make it suitable for both breakup scenarios and mood-setting for hooking up—we’ve got ourselves a song that can do both! 

“Head Like Soup”—Palehound

On “Head Like Soup” by Palehound, moniker of non-binary indie rock musician El Kempner, there’s rich imagery of delicate dinner plates and heavy glass in the palm of one’s hand as metaphors for a fragile relationship—but the song itself is one you’ll want to violently smash those dinner plates and heavy glasses to. A sluggish melody, a scattered rhythm section that pounds like an irregular pulse and Kempner’s oddball lyrics (“My head like a pot of thick soup/ Stirred and tasted”) make for a unique song in the Palehound canon. Anyone who’s felt like a pot of soup in a relationship gone sour—used to fill someone else up and left to burn unwatched, in Kempner’s own words—will want to hear this one.

“Rush”—Troye Sivan

Is Troye Sivan’s “Rush” about poppers? Is it about falling in love and lust in the midst of a bustling party scene? Perhaps a little bit of both? No matter your stance, this pop party anthem with an exhilarating house beat is sure to be on heavy rotation at queer festivities and gatherings this summer—I’m shocked it wasn’t released during Pride Month. The Australian pop star’s usage of lively rhythmic pianos and a masculine chorus chanting the hook, “I feel the rush/ addicted to your touch” are impossible to get out of your head once you’ve heard them. This tune will make you feel reckless and want to cause a little mischief with your queer posse. May we all have hot gay summers, LGBTs!

Jordan Currie (she/her) is a writer and Xtra's Associate Editor, Audience Engagement. She has written for Xtra, Exclaim!, New Feeling, Wavelength Music and others.

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Culture, Music, Monthly Tune-Up, Trans, BIPOC

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