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Date

June 28, 2020

Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdicke Pride-Filled Playlist: 5 LGBTQ+ Artists to Get Your Party Started

I lived in San Francisco for over 15 years. June was, of course, the big kick-off of summer for those lucky days we got sun; I lived in Glen Park for most of my time in the city by the bay, the fog so thick at times that we nicknamed our apartment Skull Mountain for the refrigeration-like temperature drop that occurred in our neighbourhood ecosystem compared to the rest of the metropolis. Besides the chance to maybe have a barbecue — again, weather permitting — June also marked the big shindig of the year: Pride.

The whole month was a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, with a long weekend specifically dedicated to parades, parties, talks, concerts, and overall revelry. Everyone went, from leather daddies to former sorority girls, all giddy with the festive atmosphere, glitter, and most likely a couple alcohol libations. Tidal waves of folks from the outer boroughs (or as we often deridingly called them, the maligned “bridge and tunnel” dwellers) of the Bay Area travelled in. Airports were flooded with those wanting to celebrate the occasion in ground zero of all things weird, wacky, and freeing. San Francisco, up until the last year or so I was a resident, still was the land of the dreamer, maverick, and rebel, a place where you could let your true, unbridled authentic self be safely on display in a public way. The technology goldrush and Silicon Valley giants were right on the brink of arguably making things too expensive and doing a real-life Dr. Seuss Lorax-ing of much of the funk and flavor, but all of that was forgotten during what we just referred to as Pride. The commemoration of the brave protestors and participants of Stonewall riots in 1969 was literally completely inclusive, far before the term had become the buzzword battered and batted around as it is today.

This year, the traditional schedule of Pride in San Francisco has been moved “online” to adhere to safe social distancing while still being festive. However, if you feel like being in the party Pride mood via your own turntable, here is a short round-up of some LGBTQ+ artists to check out and listen to as you throw your own extravaganza.

Bessie Smith

The Empress of Blues, Bessie Smith spent two decades at the turn of the 20th century as one of the most popular female performers of the genre, providing influence for legions of artists in the genre as well as a blueprint for jazz vocalists. Smith certainly had plenty of painful life experiences to infuse her work with. By the time she was nine, the young girl was orphaned and impoverished, turning to busking on the streets to earn money. This allowed her to hone her talent, eventually seeing Smith signed to Columbia Records, where she made over 160 recordings for the label.

Songs like “Downhearted Blues,” “Gimme a Pigfoot (and a Bottle of Beer),” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” helped Smith become the highest-paid Black entertainer of her time. Thanks to the aide of a new invention -– the radio — even audiences in the segregated south became fans of Smith as her songs quickly became high rotation staples.

Big Freedia

Freddie Ross, known publicly as Big Freedia, came to mainstream prominence when Queen Bey herself used a vocal sample of Freedia’s on the searing 2016 song “Formation.” At the time, Freedia had already garnered a sizeable fanbase for her work in bounce music, a genre of call and response hip-hop first made popular in New Orleans. With the help of multiple television performances and public appearances, including leading a crowd of several hundred in New York to set a Guinness World Record for twerking, Freedia’s reputation as the formidable performer grew.

With the help of several albums — 2003’s Queen Diva, 2010’s Big Freedia Hitz Vol. 1, and 2014’s Just Be Free — Freedia’s fanbase expanded even further. Her 2018 single with Lizzo, “Karaoke,” is arguably one of the best summer anthems of the decade. Most recently, Freedia has dropped a regular slew of singles, including 2019’s “Raising Hell” with Kesha and 2020’s “House Party” collab with New Kids on the Block, written during social distancing.

Anohni

I first was introduced to Anohni via her band Antony and the Johnsons when the group’s self-titled debut LP was released by Secretly Canadian in 2004. Filed under the intriguing genre of “baroque pop,” this first offering garnered a dedicated fan base, among them Lou Reed, who appeared on the follow-up album, 2005’s I Am A Bird Now. The record’s themes of transformation, love and longing — perfectly captured by the haunting cover image of Warhol superstar Candy Darling literally on her death bed — brought much-deserved praise, including a 2005 Mercury Prize. I dare you to listen to horn-heavy album track “Fistful of Love” without feeling a stab of melancholy deep in your gut.



Three other releases with Antony and the Johnsons followed: 2009’s The Crying Light, 2010’s Swanlights, 2012’s live album Cut the World, and the live DVD soundtrack Turning in 2014. In 2015, Anohni announced the release of Hopelessness, the first album to be put out under the name she had been using for some time in her personal life. If high-energy dance music is more your thing, make sure you check out Anohni’s 2008 collaboration with Hercules and the Love Affair, the infectious “Blind.”

Rob Halford

As lead singer of the iconic heavy metal band Judas Priest, Rob Halford could be the original leather daddy. Formed in 1969, the group went on to be pioneers of the headbanging genre, with Halford often embodying the very definition of masculinity. From the heavily studded belts and bracelets to the zealous love for Harley Davidson, Halford was as rough and tough as they come.



Songs like 1978’s “Delivering the Goods” from the 1979 classic album Hell Bent for Leather, “Heading Out to the Highway” taken from 1981’s Point of Entry, and, of course, the eternal classic “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,” the single from 1982’s Screaming for Vengeance, helped bring the singer to icon status amongst his peers. When he came out publicly on MTV in 1998, he broke down in tears while simultaneously forcing legions of fans around the world to reimagine traditional assumed gender roles.

Le Tigre

This band must be mentioned, as their lyrics — often dealing with issues pertaining to feminism and the LGBTQ+ community — are rallying cries for change while being total dance floor fillers. Originally starting as the back-up band for Kathleen Hanna’s solo project Julie Ruin, Le Tigre went on to release three full-length albums: 1999’s Le Tigre, 2001’s Feminist Sweepstakes, and 2004’s This Island. While the trio of records all have strong songs of empowerment and politics, the first self-titled debut is a must-have for its wide array of sing-along classics and cultural references.



Lead track “Deceptacon” will have you dancing around your living room, with its clapping drum loop and be-bop chorus; who can refuse the brilliant couplet “I can see your disco disco dick / Is sucking my heart out of my mind?” “Hot Topic” is a groovy finger-snapping number, listing off badass women and pioneers. Favourite track though has to be the timeless “Eau d’Bedroom Dancing,” a homage to the unparalleled therapy a solo session with a favourite song can provide. The first time I heard this played out at a club was in San Francisco. My friend Omar had a warm-up DJ slot and dropped the cut. It stopped me in my tracks — totally epic.

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Ron Hart 10 Classic Albums from Grand Royal, the Beastie Boys’ Record Label

With all this talk of Beastie Boys in the context of the Spike Jonze-directed 2020 documentary, Beastie Boys Story, there isn’t a better time to revisit one of the most underrated facets of the band’s legacy.

Launching with their seminal third album, Check Your Head, Grand Royal would become a full-fledged boutique label by late 1992. The Beastie Boys promised to listen to each and every unsolicited demo tape sent to the Grand Royal post office box. In an approach similar to The Beatles’ Apple Records or Groovy Records, the imprint run by Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks in the early 1980s, Grand Royal served as a creative playground for not only Mike D, Ad-Rock, and MCA, but their circle of pals as well.

In the process, the trio helped to create a revolution within the revolution during the alternative 1990s, pushing the boundaries of rock, hip-hop, hardcore, funk, and electronic beat music in bold new directions under the casual guise of dicking around.

Grand Royal as a label only lasted until 2001 when the business went bankrupt and met its ultimate demise in 2004 on the auction block on the site Bid4Assets.com.

“Our intentions were always simply to create a home for exciting music and the people who were passionate about it,” Mike D, who did most of the A&R for the label, told Billboard in 2001. “It really sucks that we can’t continue to do that.”

However, the unglamorous demise of Grand Royal should not overshadow the incredible discography amassed during the label’s eight-year run, offering a snapshot of how the Beasties kept the currents of innovation alive in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death. Well, at least in their own way.

The best part about revisiting the Grand Royal catalog, be it as a longtime fan or as a total noob discovering it for the very first time, is that the majority of these titles are still affordable and in circulation on the used market, both on vinyl and the still-relevant CD.

Here are 10 Grand Royal classics worth seeking out and why they deserve your investment.

Luscious Jackson – In Search of Manny (1992)

Luscious Jackson In Search of Manny

The Beasties launched Grand Royal as a label beyond their own vanities when they released this gorgeous graffiti wall of an EP by their sister act, Luscious Jackson. Featuring former Beastie Boys drummer Kate Schellenbach, In Search of Manny was not as streamlined as the band’s full-lengths that followed, but it instills a gritty swagger that feels like walking down a bustling 4th and Broadway on a hot summer day. Broad City, Princess Nokia, and Ruth Langmore all owe a debt to Manny.

DFL – My Crazy Life (1993)

dfl my crazy life album cover

Nothing gave the hardcore community a bigger shot in the arm in the early ’90s than the Beasties returning to their roots on 1992’s Check Your Head with that monster cover of “Time For Livin’” by Sly Stone. At the time, it was only right and natural for Grand Royal to drop the debut LP from Dead Fucking Last (DFL), a group that counted Ad-Rock amongst its ranks at the time. On 1993’s My Crazy Life, DFL leap right into it with 20 minutes of pure pummel, backing up their claim to be “America’s Most Hardcore” — that’s 20 minutes total for the whole album. Plus, the distinctive way by which Adam Horovitz plays guitar across this record really makes My Crazy Life of a piece with the Beasties’ own hardcore material at the time, like 1995’s Aglio E Olio EP.

µoɩsτβoψζ (Moistboyz) – µoɩsτβoψζ (1994)

Moistboyz

Moistboyz, Mickey Melchiondo’s scuzz-rock combo with Guy Heller, a fellow son of New Hope, Pennsylvania, has been around for nearly as long as Melchiando’s more famous project, Ween. By the time we got to Moistboyz V in 2013, this one-trick pony of a debut is coughing up his lung behind a tree trying to catch up to the rest of the catalog. However, in 1994, Mickey and Dickie Moist turned in a tight and relentless EP that remains the sole essential in the group’s canon.

Noise Addict – Meet the Real You (1995)

noise addict meet the real you

One of the most publicized signings to Grand Royal was Australian pop wunderkind Ben Lee, who was all of 16 when his band, Noise Addict, caught the attention of Mike D via “I Wish I Was Him,” their 1993 paean to Evan Dando. And while their sole full-length, Meet the Real You, was preceded by the June 1995 release of Lee’s solo debut, Grandpaw Would (also on Grand Royal), the group’s scrappy blend of garage punk abandon and Lou Barlow-esque charm helped this record hold it’s own against such power-pop classics of the time as Matthew Sweet’s 100% Fun and Grand Prix by Teenage Fanclub.

Butter 08 ‎– Butter 08 (1996)

butter 08 album cover

In 1996, the scene surrounding Grand Royal proved to be the height of New York City cool, and Butter08 was The Dirty Mac of that era. The brainchild of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion drummer Russell Simins, the group featured director Mike Mills on guitar, along with Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto and Rick Lee of Skeleton Key. Their sole self-titled LP was a hot mess of fuzzed-out dance-funk and broken punk-soul that served as the hidden gem of this particular era of Grand Royal dominance, albeit one a listener could only appreciate if they went whole-hog into the scene that existed around this imprint.

BS 2000 ‎– BS 2000 (1997)

bs 200 album cover

Short for Beat Science 2000, this short-lived project between Ad-Rock and former Suicidal Tendencies drummer Amery “AWOL” Smith dove into an electronica-enriched ’97 with this EP that remains one of the sleeper gems of the Beasties multiverse. AWOL was a member of DFL alongside Horovitz, and the drummer also played on both Beasties’ Ill Communication and Aglio E Olio. On this EP, they slip in and out of phenomenon like vintage Liquid Liquid, whose complete works were once reissued by Grand Royal. It’s a little pricey on the used marketplace, but very well worth the investment.

Mr. Lif ‎– Farmhand (1999)

mr lif farmhand

Twenty years before Lil Nas X nicked Nine Inch Nails’ gothic banjo for “Old Town Road,” Mr. Lif turned out a bluegrass lick as a means to exhibit his dazzling wordplay honed from freestyle battles in the Boston underground rap community. “‘Farmhand’ and ‘Settle the Score’ were songs made under considerable pressure as I was racing to meet a deadline to be a part of a vinyl single series called ‘The Blowup Factor,’” Lif writes on his Bandcamp page about the song. “I met [with Grand Royal], and I was excited that they expressed interest in releasing my music. I like working under pressure and this was another great opportunity to get my music in front of more ears.”

Sean Lennon – Into The Sun (1998)

sean lennon into the sun

The Beasties played such a key role in helping Sean Lennon emerge from the enormity of his parents’ collective shadow when they signed John and Yoko’s only son in 1998 in the midst of his time as the bassist for Cibo Matto. Produced by his bandmate and ex-girlfriend, Yuka Honda, Into The Sun remains an auspicious debut from Sean as his own artist. With the backing of most of Cibo alongside such downtown Manhattan jazz luminaries as Dave Douglas and John Medeski, it relishes in the freedom of collaboration, much like his dad during those Pussy Cats days with Harry Nilsson. It was the first missive in a long and adventurous career that still continues to surprise and charm at every turn.

Various ‎– At Home with the Groovebox (1999)

Various At Home with the Groovebox

Before GarageBand, there was the Groovebox. And in 1998, the latest transfiguration of the device was Roland MC-505, which combined the forces of a MIDI controller, a music sequencer, and a drum machine; it also contained analog synth amalgamations including the arpeggiator, oscillators, voltage-controlled filter, control of attack, decay, sustain, and release. In 1999, Grand Royal, in conjunction with music merch giants Tannis Root, put together this compilation of the coolest of the cool in modern pop trying their hand at the Groovebox, including Sonic Youth, Pavement, Will Oldham, Beck, Cibo Matto, Air, and early synth pioneers Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley, among others. This album is pretty much like a copy of Grand Royal Magazine in a listening format in the best possible way.

At The Drive-In – Relationship of Command (2000)

At The Drive In Relationship of Command

There was not a hotter band in the year 2000 than El Paso’s At the Drive-In, and their signing to Grand Royal for the release of their third LP, Relationship of Command, felt like one of those magic moments of pure music biz kismet, like The Stooges signing to Elektra in 1969. When you listen to Command 20 years later, that urgency in their delivery and precision in their playing bursts out of your speakers with an immediacy that still slams of revolution. No other band was able to bring together the influences of Fugazi and Faith No More with the passion of At the Drive-In in 2000. Unfortunately, they broke up seven months after Relationship of Command came out, the first of several proverbial cannonballs that sent Grand Royal crashing into the sea in 2001. But as the label’s last classic title, this record ensured this creatively rich and unruly stomping grounds the Beasties built for themselves went out with a bang.

Interested in seeing more articles like this one?
Don’t miss a beat!
Subscribe to Discogs Newsletters for music news, contests, exclusive vinyl & more.
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The post 10 Classic Albums from Grand Royal, the Beastie Boys’ Record Label appeared first on Discogs Blog.

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Ron Hart 10 Classic Albums from Grand Royal, the Beastie Boys’ Record Label

With all this talk of Beastie Boys in the context of the Spike Jonze-directed 2020 documentary, Beastie Boys Story, there isn’t a better time to revisit one of the most underrated facets of the band’s legacy.

Launching with their seminal third album, Check Your Head, Grand Royal would become a full-fledged boutique label by late 1992. The Beastie Boys promised to listen to each and every unsolicited demo tape sent to the Grand Royal post office box. In an approach similar to The Beatles’ Apple Records or Groovy Records, the imprint run by Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks in the early 1980s, Grand Royal served as a creative playground for not only Mike D, Ad-Rock, and MCA, but their circle of pals as well.

In the process, the trio helped to create a revolution within the revolution during the alternative 1990s, pushing the boundaries of rock, hip-hop, hardcore, funk, and electronic beat music in bold new directions under the casual guise of dicking around.

Grand Royal as a label only lasted until 2001 when the business went bankrupt and met its ultimate demise in 2004 on the auction block on the site Bid4Assets.com.

“Our intentions were always simply to create a home for exciting music and the people who were passionate about it,” Mike D, who did most of the A&R for the label, told Billboard in 2001. “It really sucks that we can’t continue to do that.”

However, the unglamorous demise of Grand Royal should not overshadow the incredible discography amassed during the label’s eight-year run, offering a snapshot of how the Beasties kept the currents of innovation alive in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death. Well, at least in their own way.

The best part about revisiting the Grand Royal catalog, be it as a longtime fan or as a total noob discovering it for the very first time, is that the majority of these titles are still affordable and in circulation on the used market, both on vinyl and the still-relevant CD.

Here are 10 Grand Royal classics worth seeking out and why they deserve your investment.

Luscious Jackson – In Search of Manny (1992)

Luscious Jackson In Search of Manny

The Beasties launched Grand Royal as a label beyond their own vanities when they released this gorgeous graffiti wall of an EP by their sister act, Luscious Jackson. Featuring former Beastie Boys drummer Kate Schellenbach, In Search of Manny was not as streamlined as the band’s full-lengths that followed, but it instills a gritty swagger that feels like walking down a bustling 4th and Broadway on a hot summer day. Broad City, Princess Nokia, and Ruth Langmore all owe a debt to Manny.

DFL – My Crazy Life (1993)

dfl my crazy life album cover

Nothing gave the hardcore community a bigger shot in the arm in the early ’90s than the Beasties returning to their roots on 1992’s Check Your Head with that monster cover of “Time For Livin’” by Sly Stone. At the time, it was only right and natural for Grand Royal to drop the debut LP from Dead Fucking Last (DFL), a group that counted Ad-Rock amongst its ranks at the time. On 1993’s My Crazy Life, DFL leap right into it with 20 minutes of pure pummel, backing up their claim to be “America’s Most Hardcore” — that’s 20 minutes total for the whole album. Plus, the distinctive way by which Adam Horovitz plays guitar across this record really makes My Crazy Life of a piece with the Beasties’ own hardcore material at the time, like 1995’s Aglio E Olio EP.

µoɩsτβoψζ (Moistboyz) – µoɩsτβoψζ (1994)

Moistboyz

Moistboyz, Mickey Melchiondo’s scuzz-rock combo with Guy Heller, a fellow son of New Hope, Pennsylvania, has been around for nearly as long as Melchiando’s more famous project, Ween. By the time we got to Moistboyz V in 2013, this one-trick pony of a debut is coughing up his lung behind a tree trying to catch up to the rest of the catalog. However, in 1994, Mickey and Dickie Moist turned in a tight and relentless EP that remains the sole essential in the group’s canon.

Noise Addict – Meet the Real You (1995)

noise addict meet the real you

One of the most publicized signings to Grand Royal was Australian pop wunderkind Ben Lee, who was all of 16 when his band, Noise Addict, caught the attention of Mike D via “I Wish I Was Him,” their 1993 paean to Evan Dando. And while their sole full-length, Meet the Real You, was preceded by the June 1995 release of Lee’s solo debut, Grandpaw Would (also on Grand Royal), the group’s scrappy blend of garage punk abandon and Lou Barlow-esque charm helped this record hold it’s own against such power-pop classics of the time as Matthew Sweet’s 100% Fun and Grand Prix by Teenage Fanclub.

Butter 08 ‎– Butter 08 (1996)

butter 08 album cover

In 1996, the scene surrounding Grand Royal proved to be the height of New York City cool, and Butter08 was The Dirty Mac of that era. The brainchild of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion drummer Russell Simins, the group featured director Mike Mills on guitar, along with Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto and Rick Lee of Skeleton Key. Their sole self-titled LP was a hot mess of fuzzed-out dance-funk and broken punk-soul that served as the hidden gem of this particular era of Grand Royal dominance, albeit one a listener could only appreciate if they went whole-hog into the scene that existed around this imprint.

BS 2000 ‎– BS 2000 (1997)

bs 200 album cover

Short for Beat Science 2000, this short-lived project between Ad-Rock and former Suicidal Tendencies drummer Amery “AWOL” Smith dove into an electronica-enriched ’97 with this EP that remains one of the sleeper gems of the Beasties multiverse. AWOL was a member of DFL alongside Horovitz, and the drummer also played on both Beasties’ Ill Communication and Aglio E Olio. On this EP, they slip in and out of phenomenon like vintage Liquid Liquid, whose complete works were once reissued by Grand Royal. It’s a little pricey on the used marketplace, but very well worth the investment.

Mr. Lif ‎– Farmhand (1999)

mr lif farmhand

Twenty years before Lil Nas X nicked Nine Inch Nails’ gothic banjo for “Old Town Road,” Mr. Lif turned out a bluegrass lick as a means to exhibit his dazzling wordplay honed from freestyle battles in the Boston underground rap community. “‘Farmhand’ and ‘Settle the Score’ were songs made under considerable pressure as I was racing to meet a deadline to be a part of a vinyl single series called ‘The Blowup Factor,’” Lif writes on his Bandcamp page about the song. “I met [with Grand Royal], and I was excited that they expressed interest in releasing my music. I like working under pressure and this was another great opportunity to get my music in front of more ears.”

Sean Lennon – Into The Sun (1998)

sean lennon into the sun

The Beasties played such a key role in helping Sean Lennon emerge from the enormity of his parents’ collective shadow when they signed John and Yoko’s only son in 1998 in the midst of his time as the bassist for Cibo Matto. Produced by his bandmate and ex-girlfriend, Yuka Honda, Into The Sun remains an auspicious debut from Sean as his own artist. With the backing of most of Cibo alongside such downtown Manhattan jazz luminaries as Dave Douglas and John Medeski, it relishes in the freedom of collaboration, much like his dad during those Pussy Cats days with Harry Nilsson. It was the first missive in a long and adventurous career that still continues to surprise and charm at every turn.

Various ‎– At Home with the Groovebox (1999)

Various At Home with the Groovebox

Before GarageBand, there was the Groovebox. And in 1998, the latest transfiguration of the device was Roland MC-505, which combined the forces of a MIDI controller, a music sequencer, and a drum machine; it also contained analog synth amalgamations including the arpeggiator, oscillators, voltage-controlled filter, control of attack, decay, sustain, and release. In 1999, Grand Royal, in conjunction with music merch giants Tannis Root, put together this compilation of the coolest of the cool in modern pop trying their hand at the Groovebox, including Sonic Youth, Pavement, Will Oldham, Beck, Cibo Matto, Air, and early synth pioneers Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley, among others. This album is pretty much like a copy of Grand Royal Magazine in a listening format in the best possible way.

At The Drive-In – Relationship of Command (2000)

At The Drive In Relationship of Command

There was not a hotter band in the year 2000 than El Paso’s At the Drive-In, and their signing to Grand Royal for the release of their third LP, Relationship of Command, felt like one of those magic moments of pure music biz kismet, like The Stooges signing to Elektra in 1969. When you listen to Command 20 years later, that urgency in their delivery and precision in their playing bursts out of your speakers with an immediacy that still slams of revolution. No other band was able to bring together the influences of Fugazi and Faith No More with the passion of At the Drive-In in 2000. Unfortunately, they broke up seven months after Relationship of Command came out, the first of several proverbial cannonballs that sent Grand Royal crashing into the sea in 2001. But as the label’s last classic title, this record ensured this creatively rich and unruly stomping grounds the Beasties built for themselves went out with a bang.

Interested in seeing more articles like this one?
Don’t miss a beat!
Subscribe to Discogs Newsletters for music news, contests, exclusive vinyl & more.
Want to join the Discogs community of music lovers?
Sign up for an account.
––––

The post 10 Classic Albums from Grand Royal, the Beastie Boys’ Record Label appeared first on Discogs Blog.

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