First Out: New Music From Tegan and Sara, Kelela, Jake Wesley Rogers & More
When you’re not tuning into Taylor Swift’s latest album, take a breather and listen to some new tunes from your favorite queer artists. Billboard Pride is proud to present the latest edition of First Out, our weekly roundup of some of the best new music releases from LGBTQ artists.
From Tegan and Sara’s return to form to Kelela’s smooth-as-butter new single, check out just a few of our favorite releases from this week below:
Tegan and Sara, Crybaby
No, Crybaby may not be the 10th studio album from an established pop act everyone is talking about this particular week — but that doesn’t make it less worthy of your attention. Canadian duo Tegan and Sara took the sounds that have defined the last two decades of their lives — euphoric pop, grungy punk and earnest folk — and mashed them all together into an all-encompassing project that feels like it was specifically engineered to light up your dopamine receptors. The frenetic energy of “I Can’t Grow Up” bleeds seamlessly into the dark-pop vibes of “All I Wanted;” the glitching, chaotic sounds of “Yellow” offer a perfect balance to an early-career retrospective on “Smoking Weed Alone.” Crybaby encourages you to revel in the sounds of a pair who’ve found their sound yet again.
Kelela, “Happy Ending”
It’s not an easy task to create a song that is simultaneously breezy and invigorating, yet Kelela has somehow managed it. On “Happy Ending,” the latest offering from the R&B star after her return to music last month, Kelela’s voice oozes the sensual vibe she’s curated throughout her career. But the production stands in stark contrast — with a frenetic drum pattern and scattered synth line that permeates the new song, “Happy Ending” sounds like self-induced euphoria that keeps your heart rate climbing.
Jake Wesley Rogers, Love
“Escapist” pop music tends to be the kind that removes you from reality so as not to focus on it — but that’s not what Jake Wesley Rogers is doing. Love, the new EP from the rising singer-songwriter, could be more accurately described as idealist pop music; it doesn’t ask you to disregard the darkness of the world we live in (as shown on project closer “Dark Bird”), but instead wonders why that’s the only thing we’re interested in focusing on. Tackling romantic determinism (“Lavender Forever,”) learning from missed opportunities (“Hindsight”) and much more, Rogers paints the world around him in broad, colorful strokes with this heartfelt EP.
Pvris is back, baby. Their latest double single is fueled by contempt and introspection — and while the latter concept is excellently executed on “Anywhere But Here,” it’s on “Animal” that the rock project takes you careening into a rage-spiral with them. Lynn Gunn’s voice seethes with rage on “Animal,” as she furiously fights back against a controlling lover, growling into the microphone that she won’t be told “what I feel, what I do, what I want.” It’s a welcome return for Pvris — be sure to welcome them back with open ears on this absolute banger.
While we would not normally encourage calling your significant other a “Frog,” it does work for Cavetown. The new track from the indie star (which is helping to raise money for LGBTQ organizations) charts his relationship with his girlfriend, and how even after coming out as trans, their love is still the stuff of fairytales. Throw in some double entendres referencing the famed story of a princess and a frog, and you’ve got a bonafide romantic ballad on your hands.
After making headlines with their stunning album After Dinner We Talk Dreams earlier this year, NYC indie-pop collective Michelle is ready to offer fans a coda. “Pulse,” the infectious new single from the band, drips with groove and swagger, as the group details a sweaty night out over chunky house pianos and a bass line that simply refuses to relent. “I feel your pulse from outside of the room/ Feel you radiate a mood,” they sing. “Can you feel my pulse too?” The answer is an assured yes.
Gay Meat, “Bed of Every”
Karl Kuehn’s wistful new song “Bed of Every,” off the upcoming EP of the same name from his new project Gay Meat, is an existential crisis wrapped up into a gorgeously-composed melody. The airy guitars compliment Kuehn’s voice as he croons about moments that have passed him by, intrusive memories of his childhood, and a longing for simpler times. Practically a lullaby for the discontent, “Bed of Every” is the best kind of refrain a weary soul could ask for.