Listen Now: The Relix Pride ’22 Playlist
It’s Pride Month 2022 and we’re very pleased to present “The Relix Pride 22” playlist.
LGBTQ+ presence in the American music scene has never been as prevalent as it is in 2022; as social embrace and pronounced musical celebrations featuring queer artists and individuals take place around the world this June. All of this occurring against the backdrop of very real and dangerous ’80s/’90s style anti-LGBTQ+ messaging, legislation and attacks being ginned up in advance of this fall’s midterms by those who wish to muzzle the sentiments of unity, allyship and growing equality the community has relatively recently started enjoying here in the US.
While artists like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, James Booker, Freddie Mercury, Elton John and countless others have had such an incalculable influence on music, it’s been a welcome development in more recent years for queer artists to be able to present their true selves on the stage at all parts of their careers, without reservation or fear of backlash from fans.
Of course, famed queer artists have been around since the beginning of time, but seeing new and burgeoning out artists on today’s scale is a phenomenon that continues to grow and allows fans and fellow musicians alike to feel more seen and accepted, and we’re here to celebrate that.
Contributor Wesley Hodges (with five select contributions from transgender folk artist Izzy Heltai) have compiled a 22-song playlist for Pride 2022 with some context on each below. We hope you enjoy and let love reign this June and beyond.
“You and Me On The Rock” – Brandi Carlile featuring Lucius
A beautiful, escapist love song about moving out to the wilderness from arguably 2022’s biggest LGBTQ+ superstar featuring the lovely ladies from Lucius, this anthem stands tall amongst Carlile’s deep catalog. I’m personally very, very much looking forward to hearing this tune-up on the Red Rocks as summer winds down towards fall in mid-September (where Lucius and Allison Russell (featured below) will join the festivities in support!).
I build my house up on this rock, baby
Every day with you
There’s nothin’ in that town I need
After everything we’ve been through
Me out in my garden and you out on your walk
Is all the distance this poor girl can take
Without listenin’ to you talk
I don’t need their money, baby
Just you and me on the rock
You and me on the rock
“High Class Woman” – Thelma and the Sleaze
Queer female power rock trio Thelma and the Sleaze earned their stripes burning many-a-bar-venue down in the early/mid-2010s in Music City. A can’t miss kickass and brilliant live show you won’t soon forget, “High Class Woman” is a good entrée to Thelma and the Sleaze for the uninitiated.
“Make It Right” – SASAMI
The wildly inventive SASAMI set out to tap into metal influences on her latest album Squeeze as a response to anti-toxic positivity that floods today’s pop station airwaves. The queer experience in 2022 is Inspired by a multitude of sounds Sasami has created a whole new era of experimental metal and rock.
“Color Of Your Soul” – GRiZ, Clozee
Released earlier this year, Denver-based artists GRiZ and Clozee joined forces for a brain-rattling collaboration. “Color Of Your Soul” brings a full onslaught of bass-heavy production, paired with dream-state vocals from Clozee.
“You’re Not Good Enough” – Blood Orange
Since bursting on the scene as Blood Orange in 2013 with his breakout debut LP Cupid Deluxe, R&B/soul/bedroom funk sensation Dev Hynes has gained worldwide fame as a can’t miss live performer, in-demand collaborator/producer (credits include work with Solange, HAIM, Turnstile to name just a few) and one of my personal favorites to burst onto the scene over the past decade or so. While it’s been four years since his biggest (and arguably best release Negro Swan), Hynes has stayed busy and I’ll be waiting with as much anticipation as any release when the next Blood Orange album drops.
“Junco Partner” – James Booker
I’d be remiss to not include an influential titan of New Orleans music from the “the Black Liberace” himself, James Booker. Dr. John once famously described Booker as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.” Even more virtuosic than flamboyant in personality, this after-midnight lighting-in-a-bottle recording was finally brought to light in 2019 and fans of Booker (and classic NOLA music in general) definitely want to check out The Lost Paramount Tapes if they haven’t already. While the James Waynes original has been covered by the likes of The Clash, Dr. John, Widespread Panic, Galactic and Professor Longhair, no one lights the fire under “Junco” quite like Booker.
“C’mon Baby, Cry” – Orville Peck
While certainly nothing new in recent years, queer representation in country music has exploded across the airwaves and on the Opry stage over the past several years and few on this list have grabbed a larger piece of the spotlight than masked crooner sensation Orville Peck, who has been racking accolades while collaborating with artists like ally-iconista Shania Twain.
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” – Joy Oladokun
After featuring Oladokun on last year’s playlist, I feel a smidge bad featuring a cover in this year’s iteration (so do yourself a favor and also listen to 2021’s stunning, complicated and complex LP in defense of my own happiness), but her take on the 80’s classic Bonnie Raitt tune will stop you in your tracks every bit as much as the original, which says a whole, whole lot. The Nigerian-American artist has become a household name in her adopted hometown of Nashville, gaining the adoration of hordes of new fans in recent years, in addition to sharing the Ryman stage with the likes of Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. With a weekend slot at Bonnaroo and several big festival bookings set for 2022, the sky is the limit here.
“These Kids We Knew” – Rostam
An artist needing no introduction in this space, Rostam’s imaginative 2021 tune contextualizes the prevalent intergenerational divide in attitudes towards the climate crisis we now live in. Important and heavy stuff here from an artist who managed to jump out of the enormous shadow cast by his former band Vampire Weekend since setting out on his own as a solo artist years ago.
“Under My Skin” – Tisha Paradis
As a still newish resident of Denver, I can credit the discovery of Tisha Paradis’ soothing and sultry sounds from hearing this loungeful tune on the local indie station 102.3 a few weeks back. While there isn’t much material out there from the artist, I’m looking forward to hearing more in 2022 and beyond.
Learn More about Tisha Paradis:
IZZY HELTAI SONG PICKS
“Kind of Girl” – MUNA
I probably don’t have to say much about this. I’ve admired the songwriting a nuanced throwback production of MUNA since their release of About U in 2017. Lyrically clever, sonically lush, powerful, and unarguably catchy AF. Like everyone else in my world, this is the most anticipated record of 2022 for me, and what a power move dropping it during Pride Month.
“I’d Have to Think About It” – Leith Ross
Short, sweet, direct, and to the point. Leith is incredible and packages so much into a song that’s only 2:30 minutes long. Leith is one of the coolest songwriters I’ve come across this year and I’m obsessed with them. AND it’s a bonus to include a fellow trans person in this list 🙂
“Bad Friend” – Corook
Corook is just AWESOME. The song speaks for itself, she’s so fun and funny and honestly just listen to her.
“Easy” – Chelsea Cutler
Chelsea’s debut full-length has been one of my favorite albums of 2022 thus far. As a junkie for soft pop songwriters, Chelsea’s always been doing something right. I’ve always loved the work she’s done with Jeremy Zucker, but this record takes her to a whole other level. Exploring high energy, big production pop songs as well as her bread and butter, the heartbreakingly somber, slow, pop song that will make you cry every time.
“Persephone” – Allison Russell
A gorgeous homage to first love, Russell’s “Persephone” was the lead single from the veteran artist’s first solo album (released just last year) after serving as the key voice in Birds of Chicago and Our Native Daughters.
Tap tap tappin’ on your window screen
Gotta let me in Persephone
Got nowhere to go but I had to get away from him
My petals are bruised but I’m still a flower
Come runnin to you in the violet hour
Put your skinny arms around me, let me taste your skin
“Wild Turkey” – Amythyst Kiah
Gutting and visceral, Kiah’s plaintive “Wild Turkey” is as heavy as they come, a brooding bare-all take on grief and acceptance, after Kiah’s mother’s suicide. Both cathartic and dreadfully sad, this hits hard for those in grief or remembering someone close who has crossed to the other side.
“Softly” – Arlo Parks
After taking home the Mercury Prize in 2021 for her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams, Arlo Parks followed up earlier this year, continuing her artistic evolution with “Softly,” a bright, upbeat track with lyrical layers to peel back about a dying relationship.
“Be Careful” – Kaytranada feat. Thundercat
Ending a couple years of radio silence, Kaytranada dropped a star-studded EP late last year including this track featuring experimental electro sounds over a thick layer of funky-soul grooves from his friend Thundercat.
“Romance with a Memory” – Oliver Sim
After long being primarily known as bassist and vocalist for 2010’s festival and radio stalwarts The xx, Oliver Sim made his solo debut in the fall of 2021 with his Hideous Bastard LP, produced by longtime collaborator and bandmate Jamie xx.
“Chasing Rainbows” – Big Freedia feat. Kesha
The Queen Diva of New Orleans continues to build towards being one of the most iconic artists and personalities to come out of New Orleans in the last couple of decades and perhaps no other artist has a larger presence when June Pride festivals come around and there’s you already know who they are gonna call.
“Georgia” – Brittany Howard
It’s a bit wild to reflect on the fact that Brittany Howard has been a musical force and evolving legend for over a decade now, and it seems her career is still settling into a groove. As the frontwoman for Alabama Shakes and her side project Thunderbitch, Howard has more recently struck out under her own name, creating deeply personal and equally groundbreaking music. “Georgia” is about a crush Howard had as a kid and channels Sly Stone as much as Frank Ocean, universal music with a queer tilt.
I just want Georgia to notice me. I just want Georgia to notice me. I just want Georgia to notice me. I just want Georgia. Georgia, see you don’t know it, but I’m afraid to tell you how I really feel or show you what I really mean when I’m saying hello or how I feel to watch you come and go. I just want Georgia to notice me.
Enjoy “The Relix Pride 22” playlist below.