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Kickin' it, indie style: more fun CDs from unsigned queer musicians.

Bored by the Grammys? Mortified by the American Music Awards? Then try doling out your own awards this winter. We nominate these six new releases from unsigned out artists for your consideration. They'll give you enough heat and energy to get you through the winter doldrums.

They Call Me Mr. Free * Scott Free * Leather/Western Records

Chicago-based Free has a lot to say and a deep musical vocabulary with which to say it. Favoring hard-edged growls and rough new wave settings, Free targets music icons ("When Queers Be come Rock Stars," "Disco Divas"), warmongers ("Never Again and Again"), and cops ("Fair Trade"). Aping Eminem's style, Free offers empowerment to bullied queer kids ("Another Day of the Cruelty"). But when he switches to a sweet, jazzy love song ("Who Do I Thank?"), you believe he means it.

Maybe Maybe Maybe Baby * Cheese on Bread * Luv-a-Lot Records

Oh, perfect first love, when quirky-smart gay boy bonds with quirky-fun straight girl over bad dorm food. Antifolk sweet hearts Dan Fishback and Sara FitzSimmons capture the moment with toe-tapping perfection, letting listeners eavesdrop on their banter as they deconstruct boyfriends ("Where the Fuck Are They?") and slag the vapid ("[You're Just a] Gucci Model"). Just don't call them postmodern.

Down That Road * Green & Root * Cozy Goat Records

Green & Root create smooth folk-pop leaning toward '70s country-rock. Partners in life as well as music, the duo's voices blend to create gorgeous harmonies. The CD makes a perfect soundtrack for a relaxed Sunday at home with someone special. Lyrics like "Now every time I think of you, I cry a little longer / And every time I dream of you, I wake a little stronger" (from the title track) reach out and grab you.

Change Partners * Craig Rubano * Prosody Records

Broadway's Rubano puts together a set of standards that avoids sounding standard issue--14 songs, and not one Sondheim. Rubano combines a performer's chops with an archivist's enthusiasm for the material. King-Goffin's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" is a bit stiff, and despite a noble effort, Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Unexpected Song" (originally written for solo cello) still sounds aimless and unsingable. But the rest of the disc is a delight, particularly "Lookin' for Another Sweetie/I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)."

These Things We Say * Ms. Led * Fish the Cat Records

Ms. Led's Seattle-style, queercore, stripped-down feminist sound is reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney. This combo's fourth release has a message, sure, but it's also got a great beat, and you can dance to it. "And Now We Know" dares you to try and sit still. "No. No. You're Right" is a bluesy rockabilly rave-up, while "It Took Until April" offers tasty surf guitar.

Frolic & F*** * Ariel Aparicio With the Hired Guns * Bully Records

Cuban-born Aparicio leaves the salsa behind and flexes a wide range of musical muscles for his third release. "Punk Rock Girl" opens the disc with plenty of guitar feedback. "Get Happy" is bouncy reggae. Aparicio delivers "The Pill" with a sexy, nasty snarl, and "Brenda Lee" gets a country-rock treatment. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Find Web sites for all these artists and information on how to Order these CDs at www.advocate.com.

Davis is editor of UCLAlumni magazine.
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Author:Davis, Mark
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Feb 15, 2005
Words:535
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