Five musicians you need to know

Mal Blum, Allison Weiss, CocoRosie, Meshell Ndegeocello and Hannah ThomasBY HEATHER SMITH
Creator and producer Rubyfruit Radio

You’ve filled your phone with the latest Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, Indigo Girls, Brandi Carlile, and Tegan and Sara. So that’s it? You think you’re all set in case there’s a spontaneous queer music party on the next block? Not even close. While those more mainstream artists certainly have their place in the lesbian music collective, the multitude of new artists is growing by the day and the level of talent isn’t lacking. Don’t get overwhelmed. I’m here to get you started with a look at five artists that are sure to expand your listening horizons. Whether you’ve got a broken heart or you want to dance around, there is something for everyone on this list. Your ears will thank you.

Meshell Ndegeocello
Meshell Ndegeocello has always pushed the envelope with her music. From blurring the lines of musical genres by incorporating rock, jazz, R&B, funk and hip-hop into her sound to writing songs about provocative topics like race, sex, politics, religion and feminism, Ndegeocello, over the course of the last 20 years has consistently put out some of the most authentic and honest songs possible.

She has a new album called, “Comet, Come To Me” coming out in June. Here is one of the new tracks, “Conviction.”

Mal Blum
With quirky, self deprecating lyrics along with perfect melodies, it’s easy to connect with Mal Blum’s music. Her 2013 release “Tempest In A Teacup” manages to show vulnerability and be funny at the same time. It’s this characteristic that has given this album earworm status for me. It also helps that she is friggin’ adorable.

One of my favorites off the album is “Valentine’s Day (Let’s Stop Cheating On Each Other),” which highlights Blum’s sense of humor.

Allison Weiss
Allison Weiss’ “Say What You Mean” is full of songs that say the things you wish you could say, but you just can’t find the words. Weiss does this without an overabundance of analogies and platitudes. The songs lament about broken hearts, but over a catchy beat with completely relatable scenarios.

The skill with which Allison Weiss is able to articulate the angst over a broken relationship without sounding depressed is quite a feat and even if you’re not in the midst of a breakup, the album says something and remains fresh. This album has been in a constant rotation for me since it came out last spring, even though I was not suffering from a broken heart. Weiss is, however, saying some of the things I wish I had during my last breakup.

Check out this acoustic version of her song “Making It Up” from her latest album “Say What You Mean”.

Hannah Thomas
Georgia girl Hannah Thomas can’t be pigeonholed. Part rock and part country, she brings an energy to her music that cannot be contained. She’s been touring and writing relentlessly since she was 16, kicking ass and taking names along the way. I think that her talent truly shines when she performs live, so if you get a chance to see her perform, take advantage of it.

One of the highlights from her last release, “Goodbye On Wasted Time” is “Watch Out For the Deer,” a fan favorite that makes hanging out in a parking lot sound like a hell of a lot of fun.

Sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady, form the core of this group whose music has been described as “freak folk” and “New American Weird.” Their sound, at first listen can sound a bit baffling, but the more you listen, the more haunting and lush it sounds.

What I love about CocoRosie is that they pay no mind to what they think others might want to hear and are doing this for themselves and seemingly, loving every minute of it. I had the chance to see them in New York knowing very little about them. My first thought was that it was a cacophonous spectacle. Then I really listened to them and paid attention to the layers of their sound and saw it for it’s beauty.

Check out “After the Afterlife” from their latest release, Tales of a GrassWidow.

Heather Smith is the creator and producer of Rubyfruit Radio, a podcast featuring the best in female artists.

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