Not only did Alaska Thunderfuck just snatch the crown on “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2,” but she has released one of the best full-length albums by one of the queens that RuPaul has released “into the wild” in quite some time. “Poundcake,” named for Alaska’s iconic creation during a mini challenge during her season shows a much more grown up Alaska, but with that same cheeky and overt edge, which is exactly what we love about her.
The lead single “Puppet” has an infectious chorus and razor sharp by Alaska, with “Slaytina” is a club ready dance track that is made for a remix (along with a spoken word name checking a ton of “Drag Race” ladies). Some of the ladies of “Drag Race” do make an appearance to show Alaska some love, with Season Seven’s Miss Fame clucking in on “Chicken” the insanely talented Adore Delano checking in on the overtly honest “The T,” which serves as a post mortem on Alaska’s “All Stars” season. Two of the best tracks on the album have help from some heavy hitters direct from Los Angeles, with Lady Red Couture tossing in some diva vocals on “Let’s Do Drag,” and the iconic Jackie Beat letting the young girls exactly who started what on “I Invented That.” Alaska’s “Poundcake” not only showcases the artist herself, but she is more than secure in giving some other queens some time on the mic as well.
While Phi Phi O’Hara may have been one of the most polarizing contestants on this seasons “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” Jaremi Carey has left that drama behind and released his full length album “Fever Heart,” which is getting a great deal of attention, not just for his vocal prowess, but for his devilishly handsome good looks. We had a hint of what Carey could do with his single on the “Christmas Queens” compilation last season, but “Fever Heart” definitely shows a much larger picture of what he is capable of, no makeup needed. The first single “Play” is a smoothly sexy track (with an equally sultry video), showing off Carey’s falsetto ability as well as his ability to know how way around a verse. “All Mine” is a love letter set to a throbbing dance track, while “I Need You” is an 80’s fueled pop song and “Battle Scars” demonstrates a rawness in the material Carey chooses. An ongoing theme with “Fever Heart” is love, demonstrated not just in the video selections, but in the lyrical content. Carey, while a controversial figure on the “Drag Race” runway, is a true talent in the recording studio, with “Fever Heart” being the first step in a very different and positive direction.
I’ll say it here and now; in my opinion, Ginger Minj should have won “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season Seven. With a combination of raw talent, comedic timing, and sassy runway, she was the gal to beat. Now while she did not snatch that crown, she is a fan favorite, and her new album “Sweet T” shows us that Ms. Minj has oh so much more to show. “Sweet T” is the best kind of mixed bag; from a guitar tinged remake of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” to the Broadway-inspired “You Think You’re A Man” to the torch song inspired “I’ve Gotta Be Alone,” Minj runs the gamut across musical genres, but at the same time stays where she sounds best. Two of the biggest treats on the album come from two very special guest appearances; comedian and activist Margaret Cho appears on the rock anthem “Ride Or Die,” and Wilson Philips member and rock and roll royalty Carnie Wilson joins in on “God Only Knows,” made famous by The Beach Boys (which Carnie’s father Brian Wilson was a member). The history behind this recording makes the simplicity behind it much more hauntingly wonderful. After checking out this package, I do believe the best is yet to come from, as Carson Kressley calls her, “The Minj.”
Lady Gaga released her latest album “Joanne” and the comments and critiques came in before the album had hardly even hit the streets. Sitting down to review this one was a daunting task, while many wondered if it would travel more in the ARTPOP direction or in the “Born This Way” direction. I can report that it is…neither. This is the Gaga that many did not know that played at the dive bars of downtown Manhattan trying to “make it.” Now while her sound has grown, her material is absolutely vintage Gaga.
“Perfect Illusion” shows her complete dedication to Bowie in the most beautiful, guitar filled way, it’s tracks like the title track “Joanne” and the socially conscious track referencing Trayvon Martin “Angel Down” where our girl soars the most. The beer and jukebox ready “A-YO” and the rock ready “John Wayne” are perfect accompaniments to the package as well. While there are tracks that are extremely different for what many are used to, tracks like the 70’s tinged “Hey Girl” with Florence and the Machine head mistress Florence Welch show that Gaga is looking to raise women up throughout this entire album. On no song is that apparent more than on the future classic “Million Reasons.” The meaning behind this is a hybrid of many men in Gaga’s life, but she has made it clear in numerous interviews that this song is for all women who simply want to be heard. Her recent performance on “The Howard Stern Show” of this track, with piano accompaniment, is in a word, spellbinding, even driving co-host Robin Quivers to tears. While I don’t have the aforementioned “million reasons” to give you on this album, it is the kind of inspiring work that can potentially help others fall in love with the not just the art of music, but putting their own unique meaning behind it.