Welcome back to Monthly Tune-Up! September’s collection of new songs released by LGBTQ2S+ artists is here to lift your spirits as the days get shorter, darker and chillier. Whether you’re in the mood for some emotional country from Rina Sawayama, hypnotizing techno from rRoxymore or up-tempo pop-rock from The Paranoyds, I’ve got you covered for all your musical needs.
“Send My Love to John”—Rina Sawayama
Starting September’s list off with a tear-jerker is Rina Sawayama’s “Send My Love to John,” a queer country ballad from her sophomore LP, Hold the Girl. The British pansexual pop artist sings a beautifully stripped-down proclamation of love, atonement and forgiveness from the perspective of a mother unpacking her intergenerational trauma and apologizing to her queer child for not accepting them in the past. Sawayama’s crystal-clear voice rings through the mellow and sombre acoustic guitars. The simple setup and execution of the song is all she needs to tell a moving, emotional narrative, and listeners will walk away from it feeling healed and fulfilled.
“Mystical” is the first word that comes to mind upon hearing the music of Vancouver-based artist Tegan Wahlgren, better known as Wallgrin. Their new single “Yolk” from their upcoming album, Yet Again the Wheel Turns is dazzling and enchanting, the type of song one would expect to hear walking through an enchanted forest. A gentle harp, orchestral swells and Wallgrin’s airy vocals, which evolve into feral shrieks by the end, give off strong Joanna Newsom and Florence and the Machine energy, with some 1970s rock influences that give the floaty atmosphere of this track a slight edge. On “Yolk,” Wallgrin appears to be asking for guidance as they make their way through life, but the sounds coming through are strong and sure.
The seven minutes of uninterrupted techno on “Fragmented Dreams,” the lead single from rRoxymore’s upcoming album, Perpetual Now, is a hypnotic take on a traditional club song. The queer Berlin-based artist, also known as Hermione Frank, puts listeners into a trance, seducing them with abrasive, bassy beats and a kaleidoscope of layered synths. Like a lot of electronic music, the song is repetitive and cyclical in order to get those listening to it into a dancing headspace, but rRoxymore embeds just enough lively flourishes to switch up the longer-than-average runtime.
“Be Cool”—Sug Daniels
The bright and sunny country-pop single “Be Cool” by Sug Daniels is a self-affirming reminder for listeners to be gentle with themselves. The queer singer-songwriter and producer incorporates elements of folk, rock and an optimistic country flair on the track, creating a beachy atmosphere with its twangy guitars, humming ukulele and sweet vocals from Daniels. When chasing your goals becomes exhausting, she reminds us to take a breather and trust in ourselves. As the days become shorter while we venture into autumn, it’s a nice remaining tie to those breezy summer afternoons.
“Inarticulation,” by queer interdisciplinary artist Rio Romeo, is a charmingly kooky gender-neutral love song off of their new EP Good God!, and if you’re a fan of quirky, piano-based pop juggernauts like Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor, this is the tune for you. As the song’s name suggests, expressing love to someone can make one feel inarticulate. Romeo’s expressive, unrestrained vocal performance and the clunky, honky-tonk piano chords tinkling away with delight capture that exact sensation. “Inarticulation” is bursting at the seams with personality, and it’s impossible not to fall in love with it.
“Freak Out”—The Paranoyds
Up-tempo pop, rock and a little dash of riot grrrl energy closes out this month’s roundup with “Freak Out” by The Paranoyds. The queer quartet’s song comes off of their sophmore record, Talk Talk Talk, and features a plethora of influences and sounds, including new wave, indie rock and garage pop/rock. “Freak Out” embodies the infectious, almost obsessive way it feels to have a massive crush on someone, and its DIY-like rock-band sound will make you want to jump up and down in a cramped, sweaty pit at a concert with your friends. Zesty and vivacious, “Freak Out” will have you freaking out energetically and joyously.