Sound Check: June 2009

Monthly news and reviews of queer women in music.

Queer electro-duo Telepathe are kind of like the White Stripes of their genre: Band members Melissa Livaudais and Busy Ganges reportedly used to be girlfriends, but they don’t really want anyone to know it.

Really, though, it does make you wonder how they manage to spend so much time together on the road and making music with one another. I guess it’s true: Lesbians and their exes can be friends.

Melissa Livaudais (left) and Busy Ganges of Telepathe

While out on the road with Ladytron and the Faint this spring, band member Melissa answered a few of my questions via e-mail.

“It’s not intentional, but I’m sure that it’s subconsciously there,” she says of her sexuality being involved with her music. “My sexuality feels irrelevant to my career. I will say that I have encountered a lot of homophobic a–holes, and guys that just seem to be threatened by me in general, but f— those people! I’m not about to change my songwriting process and focus, because of some ‘bro.'”

Good, because the music Telepathe makes is perfect dance music. As Melissa describes it: “Telepathe sounds like everything else and nothing else at the same time.” It’s kind of true — there are elements of their brand of synth-pop on songs like the single “So Fine” that could easily fit on a playlist between Peaches and tourmates Ladytron. At the same time, their combined vocals and edgy hooks also make their debut album Dance Mother something refreshing and new.

Melissa said the band will be making a new record before hoping to “take over the world.” In the meantime, they are continuing to tour, and live out their moniker, which she said was chosen because they saw it as “the next level of consciousness. Something desirable.”

Releases Reviewed

Every time The Sounds release a new album, they come up from under the radar. It’s not that they’ve necessarily gotten better at what they do, it’s just that they reach people they haven’t before.

The Sounds

Straight up Swedish pop-rock, there is nothing not to like on Crossing the Rubicon, the band’s third full-length release out this month. From out bisexual frontwoman Maja Ivarsson‘s vocals on the very first track, “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake,” the tone is set for an insatiable album of high-energy tunes.

Maja and her four male bandmates all contribute to the lyrics on the album, which has themes of relationships (good, bad, in between), arguments and sexy trysts that don’t necessarily involve relationships at all. It’s a provocative and fun pop album with lots of keyboards and Maja’s trademark accent-tinged vocals.

The Sounds are currently on a tour supporting No Doubt, which means they’ll be getting even more interest from new listeners this year. They’ll no longer be our little secret, especially after an upcoming performance on The Late Show with David Letterman on June 15. Set your DVRs!

Holly Miranda‘s Sleep on Fire EP is only five songs from the out songstress, but none of them disappoint. The 26-year-old singer/songwriter resides in Brooklyn, but has a tiny bit of Southern influence in her slow songs like “Everytime I Go to Sleep.” An ethereal song about dreamy love, it expands on her work with her band The Jealous Girlfriends and shows her range as a vocalist and guitar player.

Holly Miranda

The sultry “Treehouse” is begging for a comparison to indie rock chanteuse Cat Power, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Dare I say Miranda’s music might be a little more accessible and also more pleasant. Even Kanye West shouted out to her on his blog earlier this year, after hearing her collaboration with Kyp Malone called “Slow Burn Treason” (not on the EP, but definitely worth finding on the internet).

I’m with Kanye: I can’t wait to hear more from Holly Miranda.