Hot new music from Devours, Witch Prophet, Alex Lahey, Jessie Ware and Tafari Anthony

Plus a great non-binary anthem from External Signal

Happy end of May! Welcome back to another Monthly Tune-Up. June is right around the corner, and a plethora of new Pride anthems are undoubtedly imminent—but we can’t forget to shine some light on the amazing LGBTQ2S+ songs that were released this past month. From previous Xtra-featured artists like Devours and Witch Prophet to massive pop acts like Jessie Ware to newcomers like External Signal, we’ve got ample May flowers to listen to.

“Medusa Unleaded”—Devours

Like the folkloric figure herself, “Medusa Unleaded” by Devours is mystical, mysterious and underlined with dark prowess. Self-described “gaylien” Jeff Cancade’s eccentric electropop continues to blossom and evolve on their fourth album under the Devours name. Homecoming Queen is a project detailing the painful nostalgia of returning to one’s hometown as the person they are now instead of who they used to be. “Medusa Unleaded” is big in execution—clanging percussion and an early 1990s synthpop flair—but the vulnerability lies in the details. Story beats of idling on Montreal rooftops and moving on from something (and someone) that Cancade has grown apart from make this standout track from Homecoming Queen feel like a withered Polaroid photo in a cardboard box in the back of a closet, which once looked upon again, floods your mind with visions of the past.

“Dizzy”—Witch Prophet

If the sensation of waking up from a pleasant sleep and having your brain linger in that in-between state of groggy and fully conscious had a sound, that sound would be Witch Prophet’s “Dizzy.” Alt-R&B, jazz and lo-fi influences make up Ayo Leilani’s third album, Gateway Experience, with all elements coming together harmoniously on this floaty track. Accompanied by soft jazz horns, Leilani sings sweetly about being so in love that it feels like the world is spinning around her. The song has a diffused, relaxed atmosphere, even if the emotional, lovestruck state Leilani is in renders her completely dizzy.

“Permanent”—Alex Lahey

 

The uncertainty over whether or not a connection is going to be a long-lasting one is a looming, anxious feeling, and Alex Lahey beautifully bottles that emotion on her song “Permanent.” Coming off of the Australian singer-songwriter’s third LP The Answer Is Always Yes, “Permanent” shows Lahey’s hesitancy at falling too deep into a relationship without knowing if it’s real—and ultimately, not being able to help herself from falling anyway. “Don’t wanna get used to this / Unless I know it’s permanent,” she sings to a raw acoustic backdrop, in true Sheryl Crow fashion. The track goes for a big ending, opting to slow down instead of speeding up to make you feel every drum, every heavy chord, every lyric punctuated with gusto. 

“Nonbiney”—External Signal

Maxwell Moore’s musical project External Signal first came on to the scene when their cover of “Rhinestone Eyes” by Gorillaz in 2020 gained traction on TikTok. Now, Moore is making their own debut with their first self-written release “Nonbiney,” a vibrant bedroom pop/rock celebration of gender expression. An exultant eclectic guitar hook effortlessly worms its way into your head, as Moore’s auto-tuned voice brightly declares their unapologetic embrace of their identity. “Feeling fake again / Put new clothes on my skin / I’ll cut my hair and then / I’m just a little bit closer,” Moore sings. For all of the iconic community-defining gay and Pride anthems we’ve heard over the years, “Nonbiney” is a delightful addition to the non-binary, gender-fluid anthem canon. 

“Freak Me Now”—Jessie Ware

When British pop darling Jessie Ware’s 2020 album What’s Your Pleasure? dropped in the early months of the pandemic, its luxurious disco and homage to 1970s club music uplifted many spirits and garnered Ware a tidal wave of queer fans. It was a new classic. Her latest, That! Feels Good! keeps the sleek production and dance-until-you-drop disco, funk and R&B momentum going strong, and the song “Freak Me Now” is a ’90s house banger that could fool listeners into believing it came directly out of that era instead of the end of April 2023. Frisky panting opens the track before launching into Ware’s powerful vocals and dizzying synths, making it feel like a living, breathing organism with its own pounding heartbeat. It’s bold, it’s horny, it’s relentless and it’s glittering with sensuality.

“Falling Back”—Tafari Anthony

Tafari Anthony airs out his frustrations and grievances with a romantic situationship he can never seem to progress with on his dazzling dance pop single “Falling Back.” The song plays with a tension and release structure—tight rhythms in the verses build up to choruses that are loose and snappy at the same time, overflowing with the zesty energy of a buoyant bass line and Anthony’s silky-smooth runs. It’s a musical illustration of the song’s conflict: intense strain, a brief moment of ease and exhilaration, followed by more strain; a never-ending loop of questioning, but knowing exactly how the power dynamic in a relationship is going to play out. On “Falling Back,” Anthony wants you to dance through the sweat and tears.

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.

Keep Reading

7 queer and trans storylines to watch at the 2024 Paris Olympics

From Nikki Hiltz to the Olympics’ first openly gay male judo competitor

In ‘The Default World,’ Naomi Kanakia skewers the hypocrisy of progressive rich kids

REVIEW: The novel is scathingly funny, painfully realistic and relentlessly critical in its view of the world

‘Fancy Dance’ finally gets the release it deserves

REVIEW: Lily Gladstone stars in the tender and arresting queer Indigenous drama
A close-up of Celine Dion's face, looking emotional, in I Am: Celine Dion

‘I Am: Celine Dion’ tackles the icon’s legacy from her own point of view

REVIEW: The film highlights an icon sorting out her life without the very thing that built her career