"Patrick Haggerty is the REAL OG gay country artist." – Trixie Mattel, star of RuPaul's Drag Race
"[Lavender Country] is a tremendous feat, a remarkable act of bravery and honesty as well as a statement on the universality of love and lust and belonging." – Pitchfork, Best New Reissue Review
"Though Lavender Country has been out for 45 years, Haggerty has only recently found the level of awareness and subsequent queer-conscious dialogue around the album that he was hoping for when he first wrote (it)." – Rolling Stone
Couldn't be more excited to announce the (50 years in the making!) sophomore album from foundational queer country band LAVENDER COUNTRY. The album is called Blackberry Rose and it will be released on February 18th.
Led by principal songwriter Patrick Haggerty, it is the band's first album in nearly fifty years. Their debut self-titled album released in 1973 is universally recognized as the first ever country album to be released by an openly gay artist.
While Lavender Country was little known outside the Pacific Northwest in their time and only released one self-distributed album in 1973, they created a genuine cultural milestone; the first openly gay country album. Sponsored by the original Stonewall activists of the Gay Community Social Services of Seattle, Lavender Country's self-titled release was the brainchild of Patrick Haggerty, whose experiences as a gay liberation activist during the Stonewall era shaped him into a tenacious political savant. Radically defying the conservative norms of country music, Haggerty turned to Seattle's gay community for song topics that addressed a wide range of political and social concerns, including institutionalized oppression and divisions of the working class, as well as more personal subjects such as the complications of intimacy and sexual identity. The album marked the genesis moment of creation for the entire queer country movement that today is booming with the likes of Lil Nas X, Orville Peck, Brandi Carlile, Paisley Fields and more.
Lavender Country was recognized in 1999 by the Country Music Hall of Fame for its contribution to the history of country music, and the self-titled album was re-issued in 2014 to much acclaim and fanfare, including a Best New Reissue review by Pitchfork, features in RuPaul's Drag Race, and a full modern ballet being choreographed and performed based on Lavender Country's songs.
Photo by Calvin Lum
The first single from Blackberry Rose is out today, and is a full-band Nashville Sound reimagined version of LC's classic "I Can't Shake The Stranger Out Of You" which was covered by RuPaul's Drag Race icon Trixie Mattel on her Grammy-nominated 2020 album, Barbara. The song is one of longing, a love song about missing intimacy in the most intimate moments.
Mattel described working on the song with Haggerty in a 2020 NPR interview as:
"Patrick was like 'well you have to understand, I was part of the first batch of gay men to actually come out. So we didn’t know how to be intimate and love one another, and look each other in the eye and be honest, we only knew how to hook up.' It’s an homage to those who paved the way."
In 1954, 12 year old Jerry Williams, then performing under the name Little Jerry Williams, made his first recording for Mechanic Records, a blues stomp with a shockingly mature vocal performance. Through the 60’s Williams’ career developed with a number of successful singles, including “I’m the Lover Man” and “Baby You’re My Everything”, as well as writing and producing hits for Dee Dee Warwick, Doris Duke, and Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles.
It was in 1970, however, that the full extent of Williams’ eccentric creative genius was unleashed on the world for the first time, with the birth of his musical alter-ego, Swamp Dogg. Created to “occupy the body while the search party was out looking for Jerry Williams, who was mentally missing in action due to certain pressures, mal-treatments and failure to get paid royalties on over fifty single records,” the SwampDogg alias, still in use today, allowed Williams to create music that was bolder, raunchier, and more honest to his creative instincts. The Dogg’s cult classic debut Total Destruction to Your Mind struck a powerful blend of Williams' classic soulful sensibilities and the blooming psychedelia of the time. Infused in the swirling brew is Swamp’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it humor, a number of acid odes, and a heavy dose of sharp political insight. Though the psychedelic strangeness alienated R&B fans of the time, and the authentic R&B infrastructure prevented it from clicking with hippie audiences, it has retroactively received legendary status in cult music circles.
Polaroids by Matthew Dilmore
Swamp Dogg is at his most earnest on lead single “Soul to Blessed Soul” - out now across all streaming platforms. The song is a wholesome yet triumphant tune about the divine power of love. Paying tribute to the kind of connection that overcomes the deepest hardships and brings out the best in a person, SwampDogg can only think to thank God for his good fortune. Anchored on a head-nodding lick from Guitar Shorty, “Soul to Blessed Soul” is a slow-burning serenade that’s sweet, soulful, and at times, a little sexual.
At 78, SwampDogg is as sharp of a singer and songwriter as ever. His raunchy yet charismatic sense of humor takes a more forward role on I Need a Job… So I Can Buy More Autotune, with earnestly delivered lyrics about all day sex and an entire song dedicated to the perils of “Cheating in the Daylight.” Many of the record’s most charming moments emerge from the juxtaposition of Swamp’s left field humor with genuine messages of love, such as “She Got That Fire”, which weaves descriptions of imagined sex acts, including but not limited to an encounter involving edible underwear, in between relatively wholesome proclamations like “she must be an angel on earth,” and “when she looks at you, it’s like sunshine from her eyes.” I Need a Job... does more than prove that Swamp's still got it, it proves he’s still getting better.
I Need a Job… So I Can Buy More Autotunewill be released on February 25, 2022. It is available for pre-order now, along with an exclusive t-shirt designed by Perry Shall.
Living next to each other throughout the pandemic, Goren and Sokel's neighborly interactions led the two to try writing music together, just to see what it would sound like. One song quickly became three, and soon they were recording what would come to be the self titled debut release from Dead Best. Dead Best takes the raw pandemic expressions of two punk veterans and refines them into a ripping 13 tracks. Exhuming deep anxieties through pummeling guitars and frantic, distorted vocals, the LP is a brief but clear profile of Goren and Sokel’s combined creative voice
Sharing their first single, "Life Love and Liberty", Dead Best announced their debut self titled LP, out December 10th on Don Giovanni Records. Simple punchy drums cue in the LP's opening track, inciting a barrage of aggressive guitar work and heavily distorted vocals. Capturing the duo’s explosive sound in under a minute and a half, Life, Love and Liberty is an introduction to the fast paced world of Dead Best.
Portals is an ambience album at the intersection of blended sounds. Earth, native flute, guitars, bass, drums, and percussion were used to record the music on this album. Portal is a connection to the other side. A bridge you can cross only if you promise not to look down. Notes are shaped into waves, conjugations of sound. Cosmic music echos, coaxing pitch, dragging stars, rhythm of the angels. Take a ride while guitars cling to form. Songs of the moon relax your mind, soul journey through Belt of the Pleiades, portal of birth. What is the key of the waters, night creatures, spin of the Earth? What do the birds sing? Uncertainties certain to be known interspecies communication will teach us this knowledge. Through the portal of understanding is a rite of togetherness. I will hold what you give me in the highest honor; this is the meaning of thank you, miigwech
"Had MarissaPaternoster emerged in my era she would be a household name by now. Trouble is, the world is currently not very kind to guitar heroes. In favour instead are the ten a penny stage schooled pop stars. Nevertheless, Marissa’s talents are such that she endures and indeed continues to flourish despite our stubborn idiocracy. She is a true alt treasure. Ignore her at your peril." – Shirley Manson (Garbage)
After a handful of releases under the moniker Noun, Peace Meter is the first ever recording to be released under Paternoster's name, a deliberate choice making it stand on its own as a unique statement from the prolific guitarist.
MarissaPaternoster began writing Peace Meter immediately after arriving home from a west coast tour cut short due to COVID. Alone in her deceased grandmother's empty home, Paternoster sent the skeleton of a song to Andy Gibbs from the metal band THOU with the hopes that he might be able to extrapolate on the original idea. Andy sent his accompaniment back, and that process continued for the bulk of the first wave of quarantine.
As the songs developed, Paternoster decided to include two other musicians whom she admired: long time friend Shanna Polley of the NYC-based band Snakeskin on backup vocals, and the cellist Kate Wakefield from the Cincinnati-based band Lung. All parties recorded their parts within their respective homes. Once the songs seemed fully realized, they were mixed by Eric Bennett, one of Marissa's oldest friends and closest collaborators, who was also quarantined at home alongside his mixing studio.
This LP is the final project of that collaboration, between four US states, a year of isolation, panic, and uncertainty - all the while never writing together in the flesh.
Album opener "White Dove" - streaming now across all digital platforms - is a very simple song, both in structure and content, about observing something or someone you love endure pain and trauma. The entire song is basically two major chords, played over and over, a tonal mantra. Sonically, dynamics guide this song through its high peaks and low valleys, hauling the listener up to the summit within the refrain of the last chorus.