"HARDCORE GLAMOUR": A TASTE OF PEPPERMINT!
2010 might be the Year of The Tiger, but it's also gonna be The Year of Peppermint! The award-winning drag artist is one of the most visible gender-bending nightlife personalities in the Gay City. She's certainly one of the busiest too, which she playfully acknowledges in her song "Working Girl". Her recent triumphs include being named one of the "100 Most Beautiful People" by the popular counterculture NYC mag "Paper". Peppermint's latest artistic endeavor is "Hardcore Glamour", an album of original tunes sung in her own voice. This is not a revolutionary concept; drag queens have been bucking the lip-synching tradition for well over a decade to gain more respect for their craft. Yes, the girl we see on the glossy CD cover art is really the voice that we hear on "Hardcore Glamour"-- but the question is: Can the artist formerly known as "Peppermint Gummybear" really sing? The answer is, "Yes, bay bay!" Her delivery is smooth and sassy with a good dose of street-smart attitude-- although the listener will have to wait until the grand "Before Your Eyes" (a drag "power anthem" if ever there was one) or "Tip of My Tongue" to hear the soulful side of this diva's voice. Peppermint accessorizes her indulgent lyrics and her playful persona with some expert musicians. This queen may have found her celebrity status in the club scene, but the sounds on "Hardcore Glamour" are not just the thumping, alienating, distant beats you may be guessing it'll be. The music's influences are the sexed-up funk 'n' soul of the '70's, the freestyle sound of the late 80's/early '90's, and pure pop-- spiced up with some hypnotic retro rhythms and some innovative new beats. The funk 'n' soul element is clearly the contribution of Peppermint's friend and collaborator Adam Joseph, an appraised out 'n' proud singer/songwriter/DJ in his own right. Joseph co-produced the album, co-wrote eight of the CD's 11 songs, and does guest vocals throughout. "Servin' It Up", co-written by Jonny McGovern (The Gay Pimp), is tasty pop/dance candy: Peppermint sings, teases, flirts, raps, and squeals with pleasure... and she's clearly having fun with it. ("Check the mirror one more time, Miss Peppermint's goin' out tonight!") The next track, "Excuse My Beauty", may become the drag star's most emblematic single. With lyrics like "Excuse my beauty... If you don't like it, you have the right to kiss my booty!", it's impossible to get this song out of your head once you hear it. "If U Wanna" is a high-energy track with a spirit of bona fide abandonment, peppered (ahem...) with some rapping by Adam Joseph. The harder-edged "Lechuhavit!" features some rock guitar work courtesy of Matt Katz-Bohen, combined with some heavy beats and some delicious rhythms for an all-out explosion of serious musical attitude. The rock-flavored "Straight Boy", also featuring Katz-Bohen on guitar, gives us a rare guest appearance by openly gay British rapper/music guru Q-Boy.
There are more sweet treats as well: "Working Girl", featuring a subtle homage to The Members' 1981 new wave hit of the same name, is a guilty pleasure. Peppermint and her gang also serve up a reworking of Kool and the Gang's 1985 megahit "Fresh" for the album's closer. Most of the songs on "Hardcore Glamour" (which, incidentally, sold out its first pressing. Really!) are about kicking up your high heels and having a great time... but there are also some important messages about both loving and expressing yourself. Peppermint, it seems, knows a thing or two about that!
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