The Dougy Style Club is a monthly column from Q Review guest writer Doug Evasick. Each month Doug gives us his picks for notable releases you need to check out and listen to. Dive in and discover some great new releases chosen to be part of the Dougy Style Club.
Andrea Di Giovanni – Versatile
Andrea Di Giovanni’s latest song is a celebration of gender fluidity. Here Andrea boasts to their lover that they can try different roles, positions, and genders because they are not going to be defined by strict gender roles. Like so much queer pop these days it’s breaking ground on what can be discussed in the context of a pop song while also giving representation and visibility to people who have never had that before in pop music. The best part of Versatile though it how it makes all of this sound sexy and seductive as hell. Plus, it’s fun enough that many listeners will miss the meaning of the song initially because they are too busy bopping along to it in their car.
The Band Camino – Daphne Blue
This song came to my attention thanks to Spotify’s Alternative Nation playlist. It sounds like an 80s pop rock song filter through a post alternative sensibility. Basically, Daphne Blue sounds like a cross between The Outfield and Oasis and that has big appeal for me. If you want a rock song for the summer that is also fun and makes you feel good while you blare it from your car or at the beach then The Band Camino have you covered!
The Black Keys – Eagle Birds
There’s no denying that those who like meat and potatoes rock have been left a bit parched lately but do not fear because the Black Keys are here! Eagle Birds feels like the kind of song that could have easily been slotted between Joe Walsh and the Rolling Stones on mid 70s FM radio. In fact, Eagle Birds reminds me of the bluesy stomp of early ZZ Top. Rock may no longer be at the enter of the music universe anymore but that doesn’t mean there is not good music still coming out of the genre and The Black Keys are proof of that.
Bronze Avery – Anybody Else
I somehow forgot to add Bronze Avery to my last column and that’s a big oversight that I am correcting right now. All of Bronze’s singles are compact RnB flavored pop songs that have appealing production mixed with Bronze’s soulful vocals. Anybody Else is my favorite song of his along with Pressure and it’s because of that appealing production. Like Miss Benny’s Every Boy the production here sounds like a perfect summer day spent outdoors with the sun’s rays shinning down on you. Every time the song starts it gives me this warm feeling inside that makes me feel good. It’s a perfect song for the summer when all you want to do is be outside for as long as possible.
Charli XCX & Lizzo – Blame It On Your Love
Charli XCX & Lizzo are two of the fiercest and most essential voices in music right now. Both acts are breaking ground in different ways for how pop music can be produced and presented while opening up the playing field for different kinds of female artists then we typically get in pop music. Therefore, a collaboration between the two not only feels right but necessary in 2019. This is Charli’s first song since her wonderful duet with Troye Sivan on 1999 and the long wait was worth it because it’s a perfect pop song. Hooks are coming at you from everywhere from the production to the vocals. The fact that it has two of the best personalities in music right now makes it even better!
Cory Stewart – Outta My Head
Cory Stewart seems to be enamored with 90’s club music and there is nothing wrong with that. While Poison seemed to take influence from C+C Music Factory who mixed hard rock riffs with hard hip-hop beats and soulful vocals, Outta My Head recalls the high energy super produced club bangers of the decade like Finally by CeCe Peniston, What is Love by Haddaway and Ooh Ah Just a Little Bit More by Gina G. Cory has been releasing more and more new music recently and the quality seems to go up each time so here’s to what comes next!
Cub Sport – Summer Lover (Remix)
The album version of Summer Lover is mostly a mood piece but the remix transforms it into a bubbly dance song that captures the fun in the sun attitude of early Cub Sport but with more Chillwave and EDM influences. I will admit remixes are not always my thing but this remix is exceptional. This remix, despite having the same lyrics and vocals, feels like a different creation completely. I hope they do a video for this remix at some point down the road. I'm also a sucker for songs about summer so I will be coming back to this song quite often for years to come.
Davy Boi – Foundation
Foundation is for Davy Boi what Wiser was for Jesse Saint John earlier this year. Like Jesse Saint John, Davy Boi’s earlier songs were sexy dance bops made for the clubs and gay bars but with more Disco, RnB and Hip-Hop influences than Jesse Saint John. Like Wiser though, Foundation sees Davy take a hard left into unexpected territory that reveals there are even more layers to Davy Boi’s talent than we originally thought. The strings recall classic Hollywood films, musicals and even classical music a bit while the lyrics deal with Davy Boi realizing his own self-worth and learning to love himself as he is more and more. It’s a great self-love anthem at a time when we need them now more than ever. As usual Davy’s soulful vocals are magnificent and he continues to be one the best and most essential vocalists we have right now.
Dorian Electra – Daddy Like
What is there to say about Dorian Electra that hasn’t been said? Visionary, groundbreaking, and defiantly Queer & flamboyant to the extreme which is just how Dorian Electra likes it. Daddy Like is another catchy gender fluid anthem that also has its tongue firmly planted in cheek. The video drives this home even more. Daddy Like is both hilarious and empowering at the same time and it’s this tricky balancing act that makes Dorian Electra’s music so captivating. Dorian Electra is blazing a trail right now and making no apologies for it and God bless them for it.
Elliot Jones – Emotions
I discovered this song thanks to Spotify’s Out Now playlist. It’s a well-produced pop song with great key changes and enough layering in the production to keep your ear invested the whole time. Elliot also has a very sensual vocal style that is appealing and gives his music strong sex appeal. Of the 3 singles he has released thus far this is his best and hopefully he’s got more coming.
Jared Gelman - Check Your Files
Check Your Files is every inch the bop that Return to Sender was which means it’s an addictively catchy dance song with a chorus that is going to run laps through your head for days! Jared’s music brings out your inner diva and makes you want to strut either in the club or just walking down the street. Jared is quickly making a name for himself and with songs like Check Your Files it’s easy to see why.
Katy Perry – Never Really Over
People are already declaring Never Really Over Katy Perry’s comeback which is slightly unfair. Two years ago Katy released Chained to the Rhythm which went top 5 and stands as one of her best singles. Still the accompanying album Witness didn’t set the charts on fire like all her previous albums had done despite having solid pop songs such as Power and Roulette. We can argue the merits of Witness all day, but the fact remains that the album did derail her momentum on the charts. She needed a strong song to get her back in the game and Never Really Over delivers. Sure, Katy is not the most cutting edge or groundbreaking pop diva like Gaga, Halsey or Charli XCX but there is no denying that has crafted some of the best and most indelible pop hits of the last decade. There’s a reason she was inescapable for a long time there and that’s because her music was pop at it’s best and most pure where hooks and melodies ruled the day. Never Really Over is worthy of being compared to past triumphs. It has hooks for days but it also has an emotional message at its center that can help it connect with even more people the way Roar, Part of Me and Firework did back in the day. Either way it’s good to have Katy back!
Kim Petras – Do Me
In my honest opinion Kim Petras is THE pop star of 2019. Nobody is working harder than she is right now at crafting top notch pop songs. For the last two months she has a released a new song every week and each and every one of them has been a slam dunk! Lest we forget Kim also released 3 songs simultaneously earlier this year that were fantastic as well especially 1,2,3 Dayz Up and If You Think About Me. Do Me is another winner for the new reigning queen of pop music. Kim said Do Me was influenced by 80s hair metal sex jams but done the Kim Petras way. Before the song dropped Kim declared that Do Me was the new anthem for sluts everywhere and I gotta agree with her. Every time I listen to Do Me it brings out my inner slut and I like that! I’m ready to get down with Kim in concert this month. It’s sure to be the most fun I have this whole year!
Kisos – Happily Ever After
Kisos spills his heart out for everyone to hear on Happily Ever After. Kisos describes a relationship where he and his boyfriend were once madly in love, but now they are toxic to one another. Kisos hopes that the two of them can learn from their mistakes and after some time apart can come together again and rekindle the love they once had. Gay or straight this is a message that resonates with anyone who has ever been in a relationship. It’s this emotional honesty that makes Happily Ever After one of the best and most emotionally heartbreaking songs of 2019 thus far.
Nicopop – What U Like
If Nicopop is not your radar already he needs to be. He has been crafting some of the best dance songs of the past year with Elephant, Start Again and now What U Like. The beats and production on this song are sure to get you moving within seconds it’s that great. If this song doesn’t get you moving you might be dead on the inside. Everyone I have introduced this song to loves it instantly including a few openly gay pop stars who are featured on this very list. Next time you need to get the party started reach for some Nicopop. You can thank me later ?.
Live – Hold Me Up
Live released 1994’s Throwing Copper at the height of the alternative nation where it became an across the board smash that ended up being one of the defining rock albums of the decade. Unfortunately, Live had trouble matching that success though their next album, 1997’s Secret Samadhi, has my favorite song by them (Lakini’s Juice) and 1999’s The Distance To Here remains a fan favorite. After the 90s though there is no denying that Live really struggled both commercially and artistically before bottoming out in 2006 with the career nadir Songs From the Black Mountain which is the blandest and most forgettable alternative rock album I have ever heard. The band kicked lead singer Ed Kowalczyk out shortly thereafter but they reconciled recently and just in time for the 25th anniversary of Throwing Copper. The band is hitting the road with 90s rock alumni Bush and Our Lady Peace this summer and they also finished and released Hold Me Up which dates back to the Throwing Copper sessions. Let me blunt this is the best song Live has done since the 90s! Listening to it reminds me why we all fell in love with Live in the first place and why we all thought that Live was going to be the next U2 or R.E.M. for a hot second. That guitar solo especially rocks and is easily the most exciting musical moment Live has had since at least 1997. If Live wants to dust off some more unfinished songs from the 90s I’m all ears.
Michael Medrano – No More Tequila
Michael Medrano is one of my favorite gay pop stars right now because not only his music catchy but it cuts deep and feels real. His songs have a way of conjuring up memories and emotions I have had in the past and present. No More Tequila details a wild night out where Michael let his bad judgment get the better of him and he blames the tequila for his actions. While I didn’t steal my boyfriend’s credit card and get a lyft to Hollywood like Michael does I did have a wild night out with too many margaritas in college. Like the song says I said a lot of shit I don’t remember now and made some poor decisions. Michael is not glamourizing this behavior by any means. In fact, he wants to change and this message of self-improvement resonates. The fact that he also doesn’t hide his queerness by using “he” pronouns and “boyfriend” throughout the song is also extremely refreshing. The song itself is an absolute bop by the way. No More Tequila is arguably the catchiest song Michael has released thus far. It’s meant to be blared in your car with the windows down while you speed down the highway. No More Tequila sees Michael becoming the pop star he has always dream of being. 2019 seems to be his year right now and it feels like he can only go up from here.
Myylo – I Can’t Help But Look
Myylo’s latest single is very Myylo which is to say it is catchy but with a strong sense of humor, fun word play, and it’s super gay! As I said last time Myylo projects so much of his personality into his music that it makes his music feel fresh and new which is extremely hard to do. No one else could have made I Can’t Help But Look but Myylo himself. Myylo is a singular talent right now who knows his way around a hook while being a great storyteller at the same time. His music is fun and universal enough to reach a mass audience while still feeling very unique and personal and that is a tricky balance that Myylo seems to pull off effortlessly every single time. And yes Myylo I too need that Vitamin D :P.
The Ocean Blue – All the Way Blue
The Ocean Blue are one of those bands from the post Smiths/pre Nirvana era of alternative rock that dominated college rock radio in the late 80s/early 90s until Grunge wiped them off the format for good by the mid-90s. Ever since then bands like The Ocean Blue have been forgotten and that’s a shame because like a lot of music from that era The Ocean Blue made some really great alternative rock that was heavy on atmosphere but also had strong hooks and pop appeal. Their biggest hit 1989’s Between Something and Nothing, which hit # 2 in the early days of the alternative rock chart, remains one of my favorite pre grunge alternative rock songs ever and I still listen to it on a regular basis. The band’s latest single proves The Ocean Blue hasn’t lost their touch. All the Way Blue has everything you loved about them and that era of alternative rock with great atmospheric production, smooth vocals, sturdy hooks and a great guitar solo that lifts the song even higher. If you miss the days when The Smiths, The Church, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Blue Nile, The Railway Children and The Mighty Lemon Drops ruled alternative rock and college radio then you need to give these guys a listen. They are also touring again and probably coming to a city near you so check them out!
Paul Michael – Keep
I’ll be honest Paul Michael came to my attention when he started following me on Instagram. When I saw he was an openly gay musician I decided to check out his music. His latest single Keep is his best song yet. He also does not code his lyrics as this is definitely about another man Paul has a complicated relationship with and that always gains points with me. Paul is leaving a man who seems to be a narcissist who never really loved him and just wanted him for the sex alone. This narcissist seems to keep picking up cute boys at the gym but Paul doesn’t care because he is much better without this self-centered Adonis. It’s a good song that I like and I think you will like it to.
Silversun Pickups – Freakazoid
Brian Aubert, the lead singer of Silversun Pickups, has said much of the band’s new album grapples with his recent depression and alcohol addiction. Freakazoid at first seems to recall self-hating/self-destructive anthems from the 90s like Creep by Radiohead and Down in a Hole by Alice in Chains. Unlike a lot of those 90s Grunge songs though Freakazoid feels a bit more adult and complicated. Brian really opens up here and even admits suicide crossed his mind. Like a lot of Silversun Pickups’ songs Freakazoid starts deceptively simple but it builds with the layering of different instruments to give the song more heft and a sense of drama as it unfolds. Like their last single It Doesn’t Really Matter the strings in this song are used effectively for dramatic effect but whereas that song had a strong sense of urgency to it, Freakazoid is much more of a slow burn. Freakazoid may require a few listens before it clicks but like all their other music your patience will be rewarded.
Teenage Wrist – Believe in the Wrong Things
Last time I gushed about how great the latest EP by Teenage Wrist is and guess what I’m about to do it again because these guys are ROCKING my world. Like I said last time Teenage Wrist are not just influenced by 90s alternative, they seem to have recaptured the sound, production and vibe of that era in a way that has eluded most bands since the 90s ended including many bands from the 90s. Believe in the Wrong Things is a bit slower and sludgier than Mary but it’s still freaking great. Like most of their music every time I listen to Believe in the Wrong Things I’m blown away by how Teenage Wrist is able to recapture so much of what made 90s alternative great. While gay pop is monopolizing most of my music listening and concert attending right now I really want to see these guys live at some point. Teenage Wrist did come to D.C. last October but it was the same night as the Troye Sivan & Kim Petras concert so you know…priorities. Nonetheless when they come back to D.C. I am going to try to see them unless it once again conflicts with another gay pop concert. Hopefully that won’t be the case though!
Vardaan Arora – Thirty Under Thirty
Vardaan Arora is a hidden gem that deserves a wider audience. Vardaan agrees with me as evidenced by his latest single Thirty Under Thirty where he laments his own lack of success compared to many of his peers. He’s trying not to be bitter but as he approaches 30 he’s getting more anxiety about his current situation. It’s a song that also speaks to all of our fears as we get older. We start thinking about how we may never achieve our dreams like we thought we would when we were younger and the future felt wide open. The line where he sings “Is this really what I love? Does it give me a rush? What if it’s not enough?” hits hard for anyone who has struggled with giving up their dreams in order to get through life. Hopefully Vardaan does see the success he craves because he has a whole cache of great pop songs that are waiting to be uncovered.
VINCINT – Say
VINCINT is a powerhouse vocalist whose singing can make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck! He’s always been good but his latest single Say may be the one that finally breaks him to a larger audience. Say is just as much an 80s throwback as Cory Stewart’s Outta My Head is a 90s throwback. But where Outta My Head recalls a lot of different songs from across the 90s, Say seems to recall the music that was written and produced by Boy Meets Girl in the second half of the 80s. For those who don’t know Boy Meets Girls were a husband and wife songwriting team who were responsible for Whitney Houston’s two best songs ever, How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me.) Boy Meets Girl also had their own hit with their 1988 top 5 smash Waiting for a Star to Fall which remains one of my favorite guilty pleasures of that decade. Say has the appeal all those songs had and as I said earlier VINCINT is a powerhouse vocalist who can truly be compared to a great like Whitney Houston. The production here is pitch perfect and will get you moving in no time. It’s a perfect summer bop and I don’t doubt that it’s going to be a highlight every time VINCINT performs live now.