Super Monster by Claud

Support a non-binary artist and discover some catchy new music on Super Monster by Claud.  How to describe their style? Well, here’s what they say on their website: “claud mintz (they/them) makes the kind of pop that goes well with a late night snack.”

If that doesn’t clear it up for you, here’s my take: this is a pop sound similar to twin icons Tegan and Sara, and the California band Muna, but also with shades of Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish. With simple hooks and honest lyrics, Claud combines soft, musing ballads with more fast-paced, playful tracks for a mix that is overall optimistic, affectionate, vulnerable, and proudly queer. Listeners will be drawn in by bright, quirky album art and intriguing song titles including “Cuff Your Jeans” and “That’s Mr. Bitch to You”.

Incidentally, “That’s Mr. Bitch To You” is probably my favorite track for its light-hearted energy in response to hate (definitely my new personal anthem) – but most tracks are relaxing and enjoyable to listen to. I also recommend “Overnight” and “Falling with the Rain” for more romantic vibes, and “Ana” for a lost-love story.  Most tracks will leave you humming for the rest of the day, and the lack of cynicism will keep you coming back for more.

Silver Lining Suite by Hiromi

The Silver Lining Suite by Hiromi is a fascinating set of original pieces by a rising Japanese star of piano and jazz composition, which come together in a suite that defies categorization. Here’s how a publisher describes it:

Hiromi’s latest album pairs her virtuosic and emotive piano with a string quartet assembled by violinist Tatsuo Nishie, concertmaster of the New Japan Philharmonic. Devised for a series of live-streamed concerts at the Blue Note Tokyo during the Covid pandemic, the results blur the lines between classical music and jazz, crafting a vibrant hybrid possessed of the fervent, rock-inspired energy and cinematic beauty that Hiromi has always instilled in her music.”

I found this an engaging album with appealing and melodic instrumentals, executed with energy and thoughtfulness. The quintet was well-balanced, giving enough focus to the piano but not skimping on the strings. Best of all it really is a genre-blender, both dignified and playful, classical and jazzy, but all-around an original.

You can experience this CD as a discovery of a skillful modern jazz and classical composer, or use it as an interesting background to your everyday activities (not recommended for car trips, because road noise makes it a challenge to fully experience the nuances).

Don’t miss this clever and relaxing jazz fusion album!

A Beautiful Time by Willie Nelson

Confession time: I’m a late convert to Willie Nelson, because I’ve been known to fall into the trap of thinking all country music is created equal. Little did I know, Willie Nelson’s outlaw country is a far cry from the “bro country” or “boyfriend country” music that just doesn’t work for me. (Side note: I HAVE been known to like the feminist/”woman kills her no-good husband” country music.) Luckily, I have seen the error of my ways and am getting familiar with Willie’s large body of work, and in my opinion his newest album, A Beautiful Time, is an excellent and enjoyable addition to his canon.

There’s an even mix of toe-tapping tracks, melancholy ballads, and wise insight here – from the heartfelt loss of “Dreamin’ Again” and the playful “We’re Not Happy (Till You’re Not Happy)” to the both thoughtful and light-hearted “I Don’t Go To Funerals”. The overall message seems to be about aging with grace and being honest about death; songs like “Dusty Bottles” directly suggest that age comes with advantages, blessings, pleasures, and of course pains, all its own; it’s clear Willie sees the passage of time but doesn’t fear it, and he sings about it with heart.

I highly recommend this album as the soundtrack to your summer road trips – and if anyone has specific Willie Nelson songs or albums to recommend, send them my way!

A Beautiful Time is Willie’s 72nd solo album and has been well-reviewed by critics; it’s available from the library as both a CD and through our music streaming service, Freegal.

In Defense of My Own Happiness by Joy Oladokun

Raw emotions and deep insights are combined with catchy, hopeful melodies to make truly captivating music in Joy Oladakun’s (oh-LA-da-koon) most recent album, In Defense of My Own Happiness.

24 unique tracks are packed into the album, each with its own viewpoint delving into love, society, struggle, beauty, or some combination thereof. What all the songs have in common is Oladakun’s signature singer-songwriter style. She’s described on her website as “a new kind of american troubadour” and her music reflects that – while your toes are tapping, head bobbing along to the beat, your mind and heart are absorbing deeply intentional lyrics. Particularly powerful is the specific perspective she brings on the world.

“i feel like it’s not an accident i’m a queer black woman writing and making music,” says the Nigerian-American singer. Her singles criticizing religion and systemic racism, among other topics, have been widely acclaimed. However, as the album’s title suggests, the music at its core is about hope and happiness wherever and however it can be found. “when you listen to me, i want you to feel like you’ve taken an emotional shower. that’s what i’m trying to accomplish for myself. to me, music is a vehicle of catharsis. i write a lot of sad songs, but i always push for a sliver of a silver lining or glimmer of hope it could be better. that’s why i’m writing in the first place. i want you to be changed when you hear me, and not because i’m special, but because i make music with the intention to change myself.”

I was surprised, touched, and fascinated by this album; I kept expecting to find a track that didn’t hook me, something that I didn’t like, that I’d skip past, but I never did. Every song was gentle on the ear but persistently catchy, with lyrics that kept you waiting to hear what came next. There was nothing superficial or frivolous going on, and everything felt like an authentic, intentional celebration of life – the good and the bad. Whether you’re into the singer-songwriter style of folk music or not, I definitely recommend you give a listen to this powerhouse album.

Freegal Music Celebrates Mother’s Day

It’s the time of year when everyone starts thinking about their parents, as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, National Parents Day (4th Sunday in July), and Non-Binary Parents Day (3rd Sunday in April) help us kick off the spring and summer seasons. This May, Freegal Music, the digital music service we subscribe to as a library, has made a special playlist to help you celebrate the mothers in your life.

A refresher on Freegal: it’s available both on our website (linked under Digital Content) and as a downloadable app for your smartphone. On its website, once you log in with your Davenport library card it’s free to stream any available songs, albums, playlists, or audiobooks, but you can also download five songs per week for offline listening.

The mother’s day 46-song playlist includes a variety of artists, genres, and styles, from pop (Meghan Trainor) and country (Carrie Underwood) to R&B (Alicia Keys) and international music (Bad Bunny). So however you and the mothers you know like to jam, there’s something here to put you in a grateful, celebratory mood.

Music Buzz: International

Travel around the world (including the heart of the USA)  with these hit albums from international musicians!

Italy: Teatro d’Ira by Måneskin

This is the second album from the wildly successful, Eurovision-winning Italian band, and features the hit that Americans will recognize the most: I Wanna Be Your Slave.  The band originally formed in Rome, Italy in 2016, and – fun fact – the band name is drawn from the Danish word for moonlight. You may also have heard their rendition of the song Beggin’, which was originally popularized by the band The Four Seasons in 1967. That song doesn’t feature on this album, but you can hear the song that won them the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest – Zitti e buoni.

Colombia: Dharma by Sebastián Yatra

If you’re a Disney fan or have kids, you may have seen the Disney film Encanto – and if you have, you’ll remember the pivotal song Dos Oruguitas. Sebastián Yatra is the performer of that song, both in the Spanish and English versions, but he’s also a highly successful musician in Latin America, known for romantic ballads and reggaeton influences. Born in Medellín, Colombia and raised in Miami, he released two previous albums and has collaborated with artists including Daddy Yankee, Ricky Martin, and the Jonas Brothers.

Puerto Rico: LA 167 by Farruko

Farruko first broke into music as a collaborator to J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Nicki Minaj, and others, before launching his solo career his first studio album, El Talento del BloqueThis most recent album features his wildly popular song, Pepas, which is in his signature Reggaeton style mixed with an electronic dance style called Tribal guarachero. You won’t want to miss this album particularly because it may be the last of this kind – at an event in February he announced his retirement from urban music in an emotional speech.

USA: Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton

Both Dolly Parton and James Patterson are juggernauts of mainstream American culture, and now they’ve pooled their talents in a special project that feels uniquely American. Run Rose Run is both an album and a novel, and in both cases it tells the story of a young country music star trying to make it big despite a dangerous past catching up to her.  The album doesn’t require you to read the book, since the tracks are universally appealing statements in a number of styles, from bluegrass to ballads, pop and more.

Hidden Music Gems: Global Edition

You may not know that our “global” genre of music CDs incorporates not only great music from around the world, but also great folk music groups from the US. Here are some great albums you can find under Global:

Appalachia Waltz , with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O’Connor, which honors the legacy of fiddle and folk music in America. This is just one example of eminent American cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s dedication to folk and global music; he’s also made an album called the Goat Rodeo sessions, collaborating with Edgar Meyer and others, as well as several albums with the Silk Road ensemble, an intercultural collective of musicians, artists, and storytellers, tracing the trade routes and the impacts of the Silk Road, which ran from the Mediterranean to China and beyond.

The Civil Wars‘ self-titled album was the indie folk duo’s second and final, featuring Grammy-award-winning song “From This Valley”. Fun fact: the band’s name was not a historical reference, but actually referred to the battles each of us is fighting within ourselves – based on the quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” The pair met in a songwriting workshop, and got early success when their song “Poison and Wine” was featured on Grey’s Anatomy in 2009.

Foreverly, featuring Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day duetting with jazz singer-songwriter Norah Jones, honors traditional Americana and folk music as recorded by country icons the Everly Brothers, while remaining true to the singers’ distinct styles. The Everly Brothers recorded Songs Our Daddy Taught Us in 1958, and it was their second studio album. When Billie Joe Armstrong fell in love with the album, he decided to remake it to make more people aware of it, and wanted to add a woman’s vocals to deepen the meaning. It was actually Armstrong’s wife Adrienne Armstrong who suggested he invite Norah Jones to partner with him – and their voices turned out to complement each other perfectly.

Album 1700 by iconic folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary was the band’s seventh album, featuring their last big hit, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” (a John Denver cover). If this cover looks familiar, you might recognize that it’s styled after a promotional photo for the 1967 movie Bonnie & Clyde where the gang held machine guns. It’s an eclectic mix of tracks, standing outside the contemporary trends at the time. As well as the John Denver cover, there’s also a Bob Dylan cover and a song which was eventually turned into a children’s book, “I’m In Love With a Big Blue Frog”. The group itself was a big part of the 1960s folk music revival in the US after their debut album topped the charts for weeks after its release in 1962.

Songs of Our Native Daughters – a collaborative album by four Black female artists highlighting historical issues that influenced black women, using mostly the banjo to echo historically Black minstrel music. Rhiannon Giddens had the original idea for the project, after visiting the  Smithsonian’s  National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and watching Nate Parker’s 2016 Birth of a Nation, in which she felt the suffering of enslaved women didn’t receive enough focus. She then invited other Black female artists to collaborate, resulting in the final team of Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell. A major part of the album is devoted to songs about different aspects of slavery and its aftermath.

Filling Gaps: expanding our LGBTQ music offerings

When ordering music CDs, I aim to have something for everyone so that our collection represents our whole community. Lately I’ve been working on expanding our LGBTQ CDs with these hidden gems that may have been overlooked when they were first released. If you’re looking for a new dance, pop, or singer-songwriter obsession, look no farther than these underground classics. (And if you’re disappointed Lil Nas X isn’t on this list, I’m still waiting for a physical CD to be released, but never fear – Montero is available now on our Freegal digital music service! It’s free to log in with your library card and PIN number, so don’t miss out on all the great offerings there as well.)

If I Could Make it Go Quiet is the third album by Girl in Red, the musical project of Norwegian singer-songwriter Marie Ulven. Her passionate following considers her a prominent voice of lesbian and sapphic women in music. She has an indie pop sound and has focused primarily on songs about romance and mental health; this album apparently focuses on the idea that there are things you’d like to say to others but say only to yourself instead.

 

Chris by Christine and the Queens is the sophomore album from Christine and the Queens, alter ego of French singer Heloise Letissier. It was released in both English and French versions (ours is only the English version) and is a defiant, though emotionally nuanced, exploration of Letissier’s identity as a queer feminist woman claiming her feelings of power.

 

About U is the debut album by Muna, another iconic group for lesbian and sapphic women, well-known for tracks like I Know a Place. It’s pop vibe is dark and 80s-inspired, using strong hooks and lyrical melodies to trace life’s sometime’s dramatic ups and downs. Muna as a band portrays real life experiences of its LA-based trio of LGBTQ women and doesn’t shy away from political statements.

 

Bold by Mary Lambert is a pop album by the honest, unapologetic singer featured on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ famous track Same Love – an unprecedented song explicitly arguing for marriage equality which also acted as a major break in Lambert’s career. She later used it to develop her own song She Keeps Me Warm. Bold is her third EP, bursting with bright, danceable tracks.

 

99.9% by Kaytranada is the highly-rated 2016 debut album for the gay Haitian-Canadian producer and DJ, also known as Louis Kevin Celestin from Montreal. All 15 songs on the R&B album were written by the artist, and almost all were produced by him as well. A wide range of guest artists appear on the tracks, and Kaytranada also included samples of several other works in his tracks.

 

Choreography by Bright Light Bright Light is an energetic dance album by the Welsh-born, NYC-based artist (also known as Rod Thomas) which features collaborations with Elton John, Alan Cumming, and the Scissor Sisters. Bright Light Bright Light’s work has been called electropop, house, or nu-disco, and this album is just a tiny sampling of the performer’s prolific body of work.

Lojo Russo: Discover Local Music!

Lojo Russo recently, generously, donated copies of her most recent CD Fresh Oil – Loose Gravel to the library for circulation! If you’re not familiar, Russo is a local musician who has lived in California and Minnesota, but currently calls the Quad Cities home. She’s influenced by folk, funk, jazz, jam, Irish and indie music, creating a unique folk rock sound. Learn more about her here.

Here are some other QC musicians whose CDs are in our collection:

The Candymakers

Centaur NoirLet’s Start A War

Three Years Hollow Ascension

Meth and GoatsLeisure Time

Lewis KnudsenJoy, Pain, Love, Songs

Broken Social SceneHug of Thunder

MetrolitesIn Spy-Fi

Pro Tip: you can also search the term “local music” in our online catalog to get a list of all the local musicians’ CDs available at all the Rivershare libraries. Don’t forget to use the filters along the left side of the results page – if you check the box for “Music CD” you’ll narrow your results down to just the music.

Can’t play CDs? Then make sure to check out QC Beats, our online streaming audio collection including the original music of Quad Cities musicians and artists. If you’re a musician, submissions are open once a year to add  your music to the collection, so please share!

Upcoming Albums from LGBTQ Artists

Don’t miss these albums from iconic artists of the LGBTQ community, coming soon!

The Lockdown Sessions by Elton John is a collection of collaborations that the British singer recorded remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Stevie Nicks, and many more. The tracks cover a variety of genres and moods for a truly eclectic mix. Personally, I can vouch for this album because I’ve already heard a few of the tracks, including Chosen Family (absolutely gorgeous track with a great message) and Nothing Else Matters (gives me chills every time). If you, like me, spent time in quarantine singing along to everything and making playlists, you might relate to this album!

Broken Hearts and Beauty Sleep by Mykki Blanco is the new album from non-binary boundary pusher Mykki Blanco, melding hip hop and rap with club and trap sounds as well as experimental elements. I’m excited for this one because I love more publicity for non-binary artists, AND I just recently discovered this artist through their essay in The Queer Bible (an excellent book!).

 

To discover other LGBTQ artists, try:

Halsey’s If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power – their most recent album which was accompanied by a film released on HBO Max, and which wrestles with the suffocating side of love, pregnancy, creation, destruction and how we claim and use power.

 

 

Brandi Carlile’s In These Silent Days : the 2021 offering from a country and folk rock staple. Encompassing both intimate contemplation and defiantly rollicking tunes, it’s an album exploring the full breadth of Carlile’s skill and power, with echoes of Elton John and Joni Mitchell, according to critics.