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Cait Brennan delivers on classic-sounding new album

Retro-leaning project is tighter, more polished than previous efforts

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Cait Brennan, gay news, Washington Blade

Cait Brennan delivers the goods on her classic-sounding new album ‘Third.’ (Photo by Greg Allen)

If you’re gonna record at the legendary Argent Studios in Memphis and call the resulting album “Third” (an homage to the 1978 classic of the same name by power-pop heroes Big Star), you better have the goods to back it up.

Fortunately, up-and-coming singer/songwriter/musician Cait Brennan has delivered an album worthy of its historic birthplace. It has not been an easy road for Brennan, who’s transgender, and her life experience has provided rich material for compelling songwriting, although she certainly knows how to tell a story as well. “Third” is consistently entertaining from start to finish, a well-crafted retro-leaning collection of rockers and ballads that will never leave you bored.

Brennan’s musical trajectory has gone nowhere but upward since her debut effort “Debutante” from last year. Her songwriting is more confident and self-assured, the arrangements are tighter, and the mixing, which was an issue on “Debutante,” is vastly improved. Overall “Third” is more polished and professional. Brennan once again works with collaborator Fernando Perdomo, and together they’ve crafted a highly melodic collection of guitar-based power pop that’s at once personal but also highly accessible.

There is a definite retro feel to “Third.” Songs like the infectious “Shake Away,” with its ultra-tight harmonies, and “Benedict Cumberbatch,” with its ‘70s arena-rock vibe, would sound fantastic on classic rock radio, fitting right alongside bands like Cheap Trick, the Knack, the Rubinoos and of course Big Star. “Shake Away” and the hard-driving “The Angels Lie” are also fast-paced retro-rockers with prominent harmonies, all with strong melodies. Just about any track on the album, apart from a few of the more intense ballads, are catchy enough to be potential singles.

Album opener “Bad at Apologies” is an edgy and intensely personal blues rocker that’s probably the strongest track on the album. It opens boldly with the memorable line, “Yeah I’m the asshole who stole your boyfriend.”

“Stack Overflow” has a manic energy and “He Knows Too Much” goes even deeper back into musical history than late ‘70s power pop, touching upon late ‘50s and early ‘60s influences.

“At the End of the World,” an epic rock waltz with an ambitious full-band arrangement, practically screams to be performed live. “A Hard Man to Love,” with its insanely catchy chorus and delightfully swirling string arrangement, is a cleverly built number that unexpectedly ends with a bit of Caribbean flavor.

Perhaps the most achingly personal track is “Catiebots Don’t Cry.” Placed mid-way through the set and stretching to nearly six minutes, it might be considered the album’s centerpiece. Brennan begins with a beautiful falsetto wrought with vulnerability before her multi-layered self-harmonizing begins over bluesy guitar licks. It’s a heartbreaker on an album that runs a full range of human emotion.

After the raucous “The Angels Lie,” the album eases into a more generally downbeat direction, winding down from a set of high-energy rockers to show a different side to Brennan’s musical identify. “Collapse” is a wrenching baring of the soul, the expression of an individual spiraling into a period of personal crisis.

“Perish the Thought” is Brennan’s typically thoughtful reflection on the state of our current political situation. The album closes with the somber waltz “Goodbye Missamerica,” with Brennan channeling classic Elton John as she’s accompanied by a mournful organ accompaniment.

Cait Brennan is a rising talent. “Debutante” showed a great deal of promise and “Third” delivers on that potential. Perhaps a bit of sameness creeps in on some of the straightforward harmony-heavy power-pop numbers, but they are so entertaining that it hardly matters.

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Music & Concerts

New dance single pays tribute to Town Danceboutique

Local musicians pen ‘Town’ in honor of shuttered club

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Bryce Bowyn (Photo by Clarissa Villondo)

The closing of the LGBTQ nightclub Town Danceboutique in the summer of 2017 was heartbreaking to local musician Bryce Bowyn. He and his Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter friend Lexie Martin decided to honor its legacy in their new single, “Town.”

For Bowyn, who moved to the District about a decade ago to attend school at American University, the memories he has from Town Danceboutique are endless. And when it closed, it was a massive loss to Bowyn and many others. 

“It was such a cool space,” Bowyn said. “It was just disappointing to see a place that brought so many people together become part of the landscape again.” The building Town Danceboutique used to be housed in is now home to upscale apartments and a CVS. 

Town Danceboutique was a formative place for Bowyn and Martin, and it was Bowyn’s first experience in an open and accepting LGBTQ environment. His favorite memories at the club were always on Halloween, he said. Patrons, including Bowyn, would go all out with their costumes to look their very best. 

Bowyn and Martin met while they were both in the musical theater program at American University. Despite their years-long friendship, “Town” is the first song they have written together. They sat down over FaceTime and got to work. It was Martin’s idea to pay homage to Town Danceboutique, and the song follows the story of pre-gaming, going out, and hitting the dance floor. 

But the single also serves as a hype song for going out in any city, at any place. 

“It was important to me for the song to remain relatable and accessible,” Bowyn said. “So the whole foundation of the chorus, ‘Let’s go to town,’ can either mean Town Danceboutique, or painting the town red and having the night of your life.”

Bowyn started writing and producing his own music in 2018. He released an EP titled “A Rosy Retrospect” in 2022, and most recently released a single “A Bridge Burned Down” in June. His music is inspired by late 2000s pop and ‘80s synthpop, influenced by stars like Madonna and Charli XCX. Lexie Martin released her self-titled EP in 2019 and most recently came out with her single “SUPERPOWER” in 2021. 

Bowyn has been a lifelong pop music enthusiast. He distinctly remembers watching Britney Spears perform “Oops!…I Did It Again” at the MTV Video Music Awards when he was a kid and thinking “That was what I wanted and what I was set to do in life.”

“My heart was always with pop music,” Bowyn said. 

“Town” is available now for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud.

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Music & Concerts

From Monáe to Madonna, fall will rock in D.C.

Local venues hosting array of queer artists in coming months

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Madonna’s delayed tour is slated to hit D.C. Dec. 18 and 19. (Screen capture via YouTube)

The D.C. area has many LGBTQ musical acts to look forward to this fall. Starting with pansexual and nonbinary actor and R&B singer Janelle Monáe, performing at the Anthem on Sept. 24-25 with ticket prices ranging from $135 to $301 on StubHub.

Janelle Monáe comes to the Anthem later this month. (Screen capture via YouTube)

Singer Hozier’s “Unreal Unearth Tour” is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 26-27. Tickets are available on StubHub starting at $324.

On Sept. 28 the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore will see lesbian pop artist SZA’s “SOS Tour” with tickets starting at $165 on Ticketmaster. 

Queer indie pop singer Ashnikko is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 29 to perform their “Weedkiller Tour.” Tickets available on StubHub range from $49 to $279.

Coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., is the All Things Go Festival. Performing are lesbian singers Tegan and Sara, alt-pop singer Lana Del Rey, pop singer Carly Rae Jepson, and more. The festival will take place Sept. 30-Oct. 1 with two day passes starting at $397 on SeatGeek.  

Rock band Queen will perform “The Rhapsody Tour” at the CFG Bank Arena along with Adam Lambert on Oct. 4-5. Tickets are starting at $181 on Ticketmaster. 

Pop star and trans woman Kim Petras’ “Feed the Beast World Tour” will reach the Anthem on Oct 12. Tickets range from $72 to $817 on StubHub. 

Kim Petras brings the ‘Feed the Beast World Tour’ to the Anthem in October. (Photo by Thom Kerr)

Queer pop singer Kesha is coming to the Anthem on Oct. 29 to support her new album, “Gag Order.” Tickets go from $86 to $261 on Event Ticket Center. 

Queer pop rapper Shygirl is co-headlining with bisexual singer Tinashe for the “Nymph” tour at the Anthem on Nov. 5. Tickets range from $45 to $145 on Ticketmaster.

Indie band Men I Trust is performing at Echostage on Nov. 15. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster for $30. 

Nonbinary rapper Lil Uzi Vert’s “PINK TAPE TOUR” will be at the Anthem on Nov. 21. Tickets start at $90 on StubHub. 

Doja Cat’s “The Scarlett Tour” will reach Capital One Arena on Nov. 27. Tickets start at $100 on Ticketmaster. 

Madonna will bring her highly anticipated and delayed “The Celebration Tour” to the Capital One Arena Dec. 18 and 19. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster starting at $110.

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Music & Concerts

Tom Goss to perform at Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend

Out singer entertains at the Sands Hotel

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Tom Goss (Photo by Dusti Cunningham)

Out singer Tom Goss will perform at the Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Sands Hotel. 

He will sing his memorable songs like “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Bears,” as well as tracks from his new album, “Remember What It Feels Like,” where he sings about being a 42-year-old gay man still reeling from his husband’s infidelity who was recently conned by a lover with a secret life now serving time in prison. 

Tickets to Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend start at $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

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