A Few Little Bits About Justin Tranter

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Justin Tranter is a rock god in the making.

The deliciously "kunty" frontman of New York glam-rock band Semi-Precious Weapons has been stirring up a sensation in clubs around the country and in the U.K. in anticipation of their debut LP "We Love You." The album will be out on Razor & Tie Records later this year.

I briefly ran into Justin and the band (at an escalator of all places) right before the taping of the MTV Logo NewNowNext Awards on Times Square last week. The group made a quick photo appearance before heading over to play a show at Irving Plaza.

If you're new to Semi-Precious Weapons, I pulled together a few little factoids about Semi-Precious Weapons and Justin Tranter to give you a bit more insight into this phenomenon on the rise.

Tranter likes to hang out at fancy hotel bars, because their managers often "get a little upset when men in full makeup dance around in 6-inch heels in front of all the nice people staying there for the week."

Three albums that had the most influence on Tranter are Patty Larkin's "Perishable Fruit," The Little Mermaid soundtrack and Patty Griffin's "Thousand Kisses""

The singer considers the the entire Mandy Moore catalog his guilty pleasure songs.

If he wasn't a performer, Tranter admits he would be "collecting cans and cashing them in at Key Food, because I actually did that for awhile and I was pretty into it."

Not only did Tranter release his very successful Fetty jewelry line , but he also entered into a partnership with Donna Karen to release his own brand of sneakers.

The first concert Tranter ever saw was a Paula Cole concert: "It was fucking stunning. She wore masks, growled, screamed, and sang her ass off. Actually it was kinda rock ’n roll."

Designing jewelry should come as no surprise as his mother is a designer of engagement rings. "She only does like ten to fifteen rings a year, but when they’re massive diamonds it ends up being a good time."

Head over to the Semi-Precious Weapons web site to stock up on Tranter merchandise, including "fucking gorgeous gloss" and a "genderless hoodie"

Great Britain's Princess Beatrice is a closeted Tranter fan and treated herself to $3000 Fetty ring at Barney's last week.

(Semi Precious Weapons is nominated for the MTV Logo ArjanWrites Brink Of Fame Award. Vote here.)

May 28, 2008 in A Few Little Bits, GLBT Artists, MTV Logo 2008 NewNowNext Awards, Semi-Precious Weapons | Permalink | Comments (5)

Listen to Jake Walden "Alive And Screaming"

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The Advocate features Jake Walden as one of the hot new queer artists to look out for this year in its upcoming annual music issue. The Los Angeles based crooner recently released his debut album "Alive & Screaming," which is filled with intensely personal stories wrapped in moody pop and folk arrangements that are truly compelling.

Walden grew up in Northern California and was raised on a hearty muscial diet of classic singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Cat Stevens, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. After traveling overseas in his late teens, the bright blue-eyed singer moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actor in TV and film. But eventually his passion for music and love for performing made him decide to explore his musical ambitions. He started to perform at Hollywood's famous Hotel Cafe that garnered him a small legion of fans.

"I want to be as raw and truthful as I can," he says in his press biography. "When I'm playing a show, I try and engage myself fully with every person. If I haven't made half of the audience cry, not out of sadness, but out of hope, then I haven't done my job, or lived up to my dream. I am trying to inspire them to remember what it is they are seeking. For hope is so easily swept away by the storms of our lives."

Lead single from his album is "Alive And Screaming, a heartfelt song about getting your heart broken that shows off Walden's knack for personal storytelling. It succeeds to convey an emotion that many people can relate to because it comes from a place that is real and that is true. Listen to it in the audio player below. (Click here to purchase "Alive And Screaming on iTunes.)

March 21, 2008 in GLBT Artists | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Friday Punch: Goldfrapp, Temposhark, Hercules & Love Affair, Mika, Jordin Sparks, Hot Chip

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Temposhark and Goldfrapp are featured on MySpace Music this week. On a related note, the photo above is a very, very rare photo of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory together. So pretty. The group's new album "Seventh Tree" hits stores next week. Expect reviews to pour in this weekend.

J*Davey launched a new MySpace page with a pretty cool way to present themselves. All we need now is a release date of their debut album.

  Streetlab remixes Hot Chip's "One Pure Thought" from their brand-new album. Grab a free MP3 here.

Very cool: My pals over at NewNowNext score an exclusive interview with Mizz Janet Jackson.

The Bird & The Bee release a new digital EP. Check out some new tracks here.

My guilty pleasure track this week is Jordin Spark's duet with Chris Bown, "No Air." Such a feel-good and crisp pop track. I also received a copy of Sparks' debut album this week and I must say that with tracks produced by Cathy Dennis and Bloodshy & Avant this LP might have some longevity.

David Byrn's Luaka Bop's label will be releasing "Brazil Classics at 20: Anti-Aging Solutions Revealed," a 10-track vinyl compilation of music from the tropicalia, samba, forro and mangue beat scene. Get a taste by downloading a guilt-free MP3 of "Claustrofobia" by Martinho Da Silva.

Hottest performance at the Brits? Mika featuring Beth Ditto. This has campy gay goodness written all over it. Yum. Really curious to hear new Mika material soon.

Chester French introduced their drummer. Holy shit! Manny knows how to hit it.

Check out the video for Hercules & Love Affair's "Blind" that features vocals by the always amazing Antony. Definitely hot to hear Antony sing over a kicky disco beat. Single will be released on March 3 on EMI in the U.K.

And yes, I'm joining the hip crowd and will be getting an iPhone today. Any apps you suggest I should download. Other tips?

February 22, 2008 in American Idol, Beth Ditto, Chester French, GLBT Artists, Global Beats, Goldfrapp, Mika, MP3, Temposhark, The Punch | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Promising Acts for 2007: Where Are They Now?

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Last year, you voted for the The Most Promising Act for 2007 in the 2006 ArjanWrites.com Readers' Poll. The winners were the guys from Dangerous Muse with Young Love, Temposhark, Mika, The Feeling and Lo-Fi-Fnk close on their heels. A year has passed, which begs the question: What happend to this "most promising" bunch?

Dangerous Muse
The duo crashed onto the pop scene when they appeared on the cover of The Advocate in the spring of 2006, coming virtually out of nowhere. They were signed to a development deal with the newly-formed Cordless Records and were formally picked up by Sire Records earlier this year. Since then, the two guys from The Bronx, NY have been preparing the release of their full-length album that appears to be slowed down by label red tape or something of that kind. When I met Tom and Mike in their studio in January, I heard almost the entire record. All it needed was a bit more edge, a bit more production and some mixing here and there, but it was nearly done. Let's hope Sire makes up their mind pronto before Dangerouse Muse runs out of momentum and the fans have moved on to new things. (For a good example of how A&R people can frustrate artists, click here.

Young Love
He seemed to have it all. This former American Apparel cashier from Austin, TX had the looks, friends in the right places and was signed by none other than Jay-Z himself to Island/Def Jam. After releasing his debut, he toured his arse off to showcase his radio-friendly, melodic sensibilities. But somehow it just didn't stick. It just wasn't heard and it didn't connect. Too bad.

Mika
Mika is the only one of the bunch who lived up to expectations. The Lebanese singer who now lives in London truly became a global pop sensation with number one hits all over the world. In the U.S., he catered to gay fans and graced the cover of Out Magazine even though he refused to open up about his own sexuality. I confronted him about when I interviewed him in November 2006 and then again last May, but he simply opted to keep his private life to himself.

The Feeling
Let's face it. They came, they impressed but they didn't go anywhere in the U.S.. Even with the mainstream support of VH-1 and a fantastic showcase at Coachella, The Feeling's high-grade, '70s inspired pop didn't stick to the masses. The good news is, however, that they are about to release new material, which could make The Feeling 2008's Snow Patrol. Seriously. Of course, The Feeling's Dan Gillespie-Salles gets major props for being openly gay. He told me in an interview in December 2006 how important it is for him to be an "alternative gay role model."

Temposhark.
You gotta love them. After a successful U.S. tour in 2007 with Darren Hayes, Temposhark printed a few copies of their debut "The Invisible Line" and announced they would finally release the album in the summer. However, the response to the disc was so good that they decided to wait a little longer and prepare a major release in 2008.  So if it wasn't 2007, then 2008 could surely be a very good year for Temposhark.

Lo-Fi-Fnk
They might not be sweet enough for American mainstream pop radio, but they are crunchy enough to make the indie kids dance. What I respect about Lo-Fi-Fnk is that they brew an exciting new pop-electro sound that isn't slick and easy to swallow. Instead it is a little rough, almost unfinished, which makes it a bedroom effort that remains fun, whether it is hit-worthy or not. After touring Europe, they are currently taking a break. I predict that they will be signed to Modular Records in 2008. They fit their roster.

December 18, 2007 in A Few Words, Dangerous Muse, GLBT Artists, Mika, Temposhark | Permalink | Comments (3)

Colton Ford Covers Alicia Keys' "No One"

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Openly-gay singer and former adult film star Colton Ford pours his heart out on a totally unplugged cover of Alicia Keys' "No One." The video of his gutsy acapella performance left me a bit puzzled at first but a press release clears a few things up.

The bathroom scenes, toe-tapping and the glory hole shots in the video turn out to be "a big wink to the recent Larry Craig 'toe-tapping' scandal" and not just an easy nod to Folton's porno past. The video was shot by Bart Everly, who directed last year's acclaimed indie documentary "Let's Get Frank," about Congressman Barney Frank.

Ford will be releasing a dance version of "No One" as a single on December 11. His debut album, titled "Tug Of War," will be released on February 19 on Outsider Music. Get more information about Ford on his MySpace page.

Watch Colton Ford "No One" on YouTube.

November 28, 2007 in GLBT Artists | Permalink | Comments (3)