Sound Check: December 2007


Just in time for Christmas, Melissa Etheridge released a live DVD performance of her album, The Awakening. The footage is from her Sept. 25th performance at the Hard Rock Café in New York, where she played the entire album in order, from beginning to end.

"Sometimes you got to look back … and start forgiving yourself," Etheridge said in between songs. "Look back and find the wisdom, find the truth, and learn the lessons."

Unfortunately, her preaching from the stage was ultimately a distraction. With multiple mentions of God, fame and how love is the only thing that matters, the music was interrupted frequently. The music itself was only as good as the album, which is lackluster compared to her past work.

With two female backup singers and a crew of male instrumentalists, Etheridge played joyfully, but still came across as quite bland. Perhaps if she’d played a couple of her older hits, it might have made things a little more exciting. However, the song "Threesome" made for a few entertaining minutes as she blushed while singing lyrics such as, "I don’t need an affair with a friend/I don’t want to have a threesome ever again."

The Awakening: Live is a two-disc set that includes the album, the live concert video, a making-of video and Q&A.

Releases Reviewed

Boston singer-songwriter Charo Sofia‘s Montreal is an acoustic album that is all about the voice. It isn’t to say her guitar playing isn’t fair, but Sofia’s deep tone is the attention grabber from the beginning of the first track, "Perfect." It’s especially appreciated when considering the fact that she’s only 20 years old.

With only six songs, Montreal comes up a little short, and those who find Sofia’s folk acoustic music as good as the usual suspects like Catie Curtis and Chris Pureka will probably like the idea but feel shortchanged by the short disc. If you’re not interested in songs lacking drums, bass or lyrical content besides love-gone-wrong, look elsewhere.

San Francisco quartet Excuses for Skipping isn’t afraid to use feminine pronouns. Unlike other musicians who shy away from the use of "she," "her" or songs that are explicit about same-sex loving, these queer ladies are quite open about their preferences.

Their first full-length release, Out of Work Early, is a dreamy, Cure-esque pop and rock blend. In the same vein as Boyskout, Tegan and Sara, and Sleater-Kinney, Excuses for Skipping creates songs that encourage handclaps and sing-alongs. Definitely check out "Gravity" and "Rule One," if not the whole album.

K Records has established itself as a home for gay indie rock stars like Mirah and The Blow, and the release of solo gal Tender Forever‘s new album, Wider, continues in that vein.

Tender Forever is Melanie Valera, an Olympia, Wash., resident who moved to the States from Bordeaux, France, and her French electro pop is a fresh new sound. While her ukelele-laden cover of Justin Timberlake’s "My Love" isn’t on the album, sex-and-relationship gems like "Doves vs. Pigeons" and "Heartbroken Forever" can be universally understood and appreciated.

News and Notes

Whether you call her Bitch or Capital B, you know who she is. The eccentric folk performer has taken some time to contribute words to Alix Olson‘s new book, Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution. Her girlfriend, Daniela Sea — who was once part of punk bands Cipher in the Snow and the Gr’ups — was solo, however, when she performed some songs at a recent ENDA protest on the campus of University of California at Santa Barbara.

Kaki King has announced the release date of her new album, Dreaming of Revenge. The follow-up to her 2006 album, …Until We Felt Red, will be released on March 4 by Velour Music Group.

Out Scottish vocalist Horse has scored a digital distribution deal in the United States for her album Red-Haired Girl. The album was previously only available in the U.K. as an import. It will be released through Kosmic Music U.S. Inc.

Uh Huh Her was recently featured on SpinDaily’s style segment. It was filmed at a Los Angeles show at the Knitting Factory where attendees included Leisha Hailey‘s L Word cast mates Katherine Moennig, Rose Rollins and Rachel Shelley, as well as the show’s executive producer, Ilene Chaiken.

Gossip front woman Beth Ditto is the cover girl for the December issue of Bust magazine. Inside, she poses for an outdoor fashion spread and dishes on rumors and her home life.

Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara can be heard on a song by Canadian band The Reason. The track, "We’re so Beyond This," also has an accompanying video that features Sara. She sings about being in a straight relationship with the lead singer, but it’s just not working out.

Queer British band Electrelane has announced they are going on indefinite hiatus. Front woman Verity Susman is recording on her own as Vera November, and she recently released a 7" on record label Too Pure.

On Tour This Month: Catie Curtis, Dresden Dolls, The Cliks, Girl in a Coma, Nicky Click, The Shondes and Chris Pureka.

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