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.

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.

Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti

Domestic fiction is one of my favorite subgenres, especially novels that are set in situations that are different than my normal life. Domestic fiction is usually written by, for, and about women. It is also usually told through multiple viewpoints. My latest read fits all the above criteria!

Dava Shastri’s Last Day tells the story of Dava Shastri and her family. Dava Shastri is one of the world’s wealthiest women. Devastated by a brain cancer diagnosis at the age of seventy, Dava is determined to approach her death like she approaches everything else in her life – with planning and determination.

Dava’s reputation has always been important to her. She wants her name to live on for generations. Both her public and private legacies are of utmost importance, but her family members don’t feel quite as strong about keeping the Shastri name alive.

Dava summons her four adult children, their spouses, and children to her private island where she tells them her news. In addition to having a terminal illness, Dava has also arranged for the news of her death to be released early, so that she can read the obituaries and articles written about her before she dies. Since she spent her life dedicated to the arts and to the empowerment of women, Dava expected that the articles written after her death would focus on those topics. Instead she finds the articles to be significantly more scandalous, focusing on two secrets that have the power to destroy her life, secrets she hoped would stay buried forever.

Now that her secrets are published, her children know and the fallout is not great. Dava must use what little time she has left to come to terms with the life she has lived and the various decisions that have led her to this point.  Most importantly she must use that time to talk it out with her family and make peace with their past, present, and future.

This book is also available in the following format:

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.

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.

Black Genius, in its Own Words

Today I’m highlighting several things I’ve recently ordered for the library that I think will add beauty and insight to our collection – focused on the experience of African-Americans, including full measures of joy, grief, hope, shame, love, and vulnerability. Have your own reading or listening suggestions? Tell us in the comments!

 Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers features baritone vocals and piano accompaniment over eight tracks by black composers, many with lyrics by eminent poet Langston Hughes.

 

 

You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience is an anthology curated by Tarana Burke and Brene Brown, meant to act as a counterpart to Brown’s famous works on vulnerability.

 

 

 

Life, I Swear: Intimate Stories from Black Women on Identity, Healing, and Self-Trust by Chloe Dulce Louvouezo is an illustrated collection of essays inspired by a podcast and telling the stories of prominent Black women’s journeys to self-love and healing.

 

 

 

For more recently-published celebrations of the Black experience, try:

Love in Color by Bolu Babalola, a striking retelling of myths, especially from West Africa, but drawing from folklore traditions around the world.

Black Magic by Chad Sanders, on the resilience and confidence the author gained from navigating America as a Black man, and how it contributed to his career success.

We Are Each Others’ Harvest by Natalie Baszile, detailing and celebrating the past and present of African-American farming, including how American culture has been shaped by these connections to the land.

The Disordered Cosmos by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a combination love letter to science and vision for a more inclusive scientific community, criticizing harmful systems which are in place.

Read Until You Understand by Farrah Jasmine Griffin, which dives into historical records of Black genius, from Malcolm X to Stevie Wonder to Toni Morrison, to show the wisdom of Black culture.

Music Hype: Human by OneRepublic

This album has been hovering on the horizon for months now, as I waited to order it until a release date was officially announced. Now, it’s finally here! So let’s talk about OneRepublic: who they are, how they got here, and how we feel about their latest offering: Human.

OneRepublic is an American pop band formed in 2002. I know many of us in the millennial and maybe Gen X camps grew up listening to Apologize and Stop and Stare from their first album Dreaming Out Loud – both of which became massive hits around the world. Apologize in particular became iconic after being remixed by Timbaland.

All the Right Moves was the big hit from their second album, Waking Up, from 2009. Other earworms included Secrets and Good Life. More recently a lot of people found they’d accidentally memorized all the words to Counting Stars, the hit song from 2013’s album, Native. Their fourth album was Oh My My in 2016 and it was a major departure in their sound, producing singles Wherever I Go and Kids.

Human has been delayed a number of times (and I’m sure COVID was part of it), but there have been singles released from it to build hype, including Rescue Me and Wanted. According to some critics, this makes the album feel more like a time capsule than a new release: Rescue Me came out in 2019, which as we all know was a very different emotional moment than 2021. But there’s still a lot to love including the upbeat anthem Run and yearning track Distance, which echoes some of the band’s classic vibes. Speaking for myself, a band than can do soulful, emotional, and danceable all equally well is definitely worth following, and OneRepublic has a very strong track record to recommend them.

If you’re looking for a solid pop album that captures some nostalgia and some optimism, you might want to try OneRepublic’s Human, finally available for checkout.

Key Changes: New Classical Crossovers

I grew up listening to a lot of classical music because of my parents, and only developed a love for pop music later. This has given me a unique perspective on music, and a love for a genre that’s a bit obscure but super fun if you’re a music nerd like me. It’s usually called Classical Crossovers, and it’s what happens when instruments and groups that typically play classical music play… NOT classical music, whether that’s pop music, rock music, soundtracks, etc. How this works depends on the group and the music they’re covering. I like it because the different instrumentation puts a unique twist on a familiar melody. Here are a few examples of this genre, recently ordered for the library.

Disney Goes Classical by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is an album where a symphony orchestra plays beloved Disney songs, from movies like The Lion King, Moana, Frozen, and more. It also features guest artists who are some of the best classical musicians today, including Matteo Bocelli,  Renee Fleming, and more. If you’re looking to relive your childhood or experience the magic of Disney in a different way, check out this album for a classy journey down memory lane.

10 by the Piano Guys probably needs no introduction; The Piano Guys have been an Internet sensation for a long time with their amazing covers of popular songs and mashups with both popular and classical tracks. In this album, they celebrate 10 years of making music with new covers as well as some of their greatest hits. They always adapt the original song to work perfectly with their instruments (piano and cello) and the songs on this album are no exception.

Alive by David Garrett is the newest album from an acclaimed violinist known for his violin covers of rock and popular songs. In this album, he has created a collection of his favorite soundtrack music, which runs the gamut from Disney songs like Beauty and the Beast and Let it Go to dramatic hits like Shallow, all the while staying true to his roots as a classical musician.

Recently Added: Quarantine Music

I think it’s safe to say the last few months have changed a lot of plans. Countless goals and dreams and ways of thinking have been forced to adapt, be revised, or be put to rest. One way, both beautiful and bittersweet, that these changes are expressed is through the art we create. Taylor Swift is a good example of what can be created in these unusual circumstances, but there are several other cases of creative projects altered by pandemic that are worth looking at. All the albums listed have recently been ordered for the library and will be available soon.

how i’m feeling now by Charli XCX is an album that was created in a truly unique way, unlikely to have arisen except in the context of self-isolation. The artist announced (where else?) on a Zoom call  that she would be making an album in self-isolation and that she would use only the tools at her fingertips to create the music, album art, everything.  Moreover, she worked collaboratively with her fans to get feedback on tracks, album art, and more. The result has been highly acclaimed by critics and fans.

In A Dream by Troye Sivan is the artist’s third album, following 2018’s Bloom. According to Sivan, this album represents an emotional rollercoaster, where emotions and feelings are shockingly fresh. Similar to Taylor Swift’s journey with Folklore, this album was made while Sivan was in lockdown in Melbourne, and it was facilitated by the boredom and isolation of the experience. Songs were created day by day and it was an unexpected realization to find that an entire album had materialized.

Here On Earth by Tim McGraw, in contrast to previous examples, was planned and recorded before the pandemic, but was unmistakably altered by it. The tour originally planned to accompany the release had to be canceled, and according to an interview with Rolling Stone, McGraw had to reexamine the record in light of the pandemic to see how its emotional impact had been changed. Some tracks, including I Called Mama, were found to have unexpected emotional weight.

ALICIA by Alicia Keys was also planned ahead of time, but struck a timely chord with its themes. Critics said the album struck a balance between hope and despair, and Keys herself said the album showed the value of introspection – something we’ve all had more time to do lately, right? The album was scheduled for release in March, but was delayed by the pandemic until September. In the meantime, various virtual performances allowed Keys to debut songs from the album ahead of its release, including the iHeart Living Room Concert for America.

Are You Ready To Rock?

Quarantining got you down?  Freegal Music can pep you up!

You can keep those tunes rockin’ throughout the fall, because the good people at Freegal Music have extended their offer of unlimited streaming music through December 31st.  More time for you to check out the playlists on their site.

Just remember to Login (top, right corner) by entering your library card number and then creating a password.  That is all it takes to start jamming to songs that stir your inner soul. Get ready for a toe-tapping, head-banging good time.

All About That Bass.  Performed by the original artists, this playlist of 35 hits includes songs you can rock out to such as Super Freak (Rick James), Crazy Train (Ozzy Osborne), Brick House (Commodores), and Frankenstein (The Edgar Winter Group).

In a retro mood?  Try Classic Cuts, 35 songs that explore the early age of rock and roll.  Tequila (The Champs), Maybelline (Chuck Barry), Louie Louie (The Kingsmen), Book Of Love (Monotones), and The Loco-Motion (Little Eva).

Perhaps disco’s more your thing.  Then indulge with the 80 songs of Boogie Nights.  Dance the night away to Disco Inferno (The Trammps), It’s Raining Men (The Weather Girls), Back Stabbers (The O’Jays), Rock The Boat (The Hues Corporation) or Lady Marmalade (LaBelle).

As performed by the Magical Singers, the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library’s list of Disney Favorites lets you enjoy 15 favorites including:  Be Our Guest, Friend Like Me, Supercalifragilisticexpalidoious, Heigh Ho, and Under The Sea.

If you are ready to mellow out choose Setting Sail: A Yacht Rock Playlist.  78 classic songs including:  “Calypso” (John Denver), “I’m Alright” (Kenny Loggins), “Leader Of The Band” (Dan Fogelberg), and “Brandy” (Looking Glass).

Whatever your mood, Freegal Music has a playlist to match.