Sound Check: December 2007

News and reviews of queer women in music.

At the end of the year, fewer new albums tend to be released, and instead there are more holiday albums or tours. Luckily, the beginning of a new year signifies the beginning of a slew of new releases to look forward to. While there aren’t a ton of queer artists recording their versions of "Feliz Navidad" this holiday season, there are plenty who are ending their year on the road, and a few choice albums to take a listen to as well.

There are times when music feels like a solitary experience, as if it’s just you, your iPod and your "Winter Romance" play list. Other times, you realize you’re part of a community — whether online or at a concert — that shares the same common love. In either experience, music means something, and certain queer bands and artists may mean even more.

Thanks to those of you who emailed me after the first Sound Check column to let me know who is worth a listen. I trust your judgment and will do my best to highlight them in future columns (if not in this month’s).

Live Onstage

Sarah Bettens has been solo since 2003, but she can’t seem to shake her past as the front woman of alt-rock band K’s Choice. Bettens came to Martyr’s in Chicago as part of her tour in support of her new album, Shine. She played to a supportive crowd that appeared to be dedicated fans, whispering words along with her and enthusiastically applauding each song from the new album and from her previous album, Go, which included the be-who-you-are anthem, "Come Over Here."

Bettens’ vocals are a perfect blend of femininity and sexy raspiness. Her instrumentals for songs like her newest single, "Daddy’s Gun," are full of catchy, rhythmic bass lines and great guitar skills. Unfortunately, the lyrics and song matter can come off a little cheesy.

Watch the video for "Daddy’s Gun” by Sarah Bettens below:


She’s well-meaning with the single about gun control, as well as the gay pride song "Pave the Way," but she fares better on Shine‘s first track, "I Can’t Get Out." Second to her performance of the K’s Choice hit "I’m Not an Addict," it was the crowd’s favorite track, and Bettens seemed much more passionate about playing the new tune as opposed to rehashing the ’90s single.

Later that week, it was a hip-hop themed evening at a bar famous for its mechanical bull called Hogs and Honeys. The straight bar plays host to lesbians on Sunday nights, and performing in November was Filf Dos, a male/female duo that recently moved to the Midwest from New York.

Out MC Filfy is a Dykes in the City model who has some tight MC skills. She flowed about her graffiti tagging skills in "Graphic Masterpieces" and her exes in "Forget Me Now." They don’t have an album available yet, but they do have tracks posted on their MySpace for a taste.

Filf Dos opened for God-Des and She, who did their best with a small stage and some mic issues. Being so close to the crowd, God-Des interacted by getting as close as possible to the front row, and She crooned her choruses in a low-cut dress.

They performed new tracks from the recently released album Stand Up, which included a song a lot of girls enjoyed screaming along to. The chorus was simple: "I hate your ex-girlfriend!" They also performed their single "Love You Better," which God-Des mentioned had gotten a lot of play on Logo.

Certainly the duo has a following from their performance on The L Word and the 2006 homo-hop documentary, Pick Up the Mic. God-Des is one of the most well-known lesbian MCs, and it seems to be because of her self-promotion as much as her performance skills. With as many gimmicky songs as there seem to be good ones, God-Des and She are an act to keep an eye on for future improvement, and hopefully less for songs like the sexually explicit "Lick It."

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