Band/Artist Profile

Queer Artist Spotlight: Limp Wrist

As we usher in this year’s Pride Month, I think about how frightening it has become to exist as a queer person in the United States.

Amid a sudden resurgence of anti-LGBT rhetoric, expressed both through discourse and legislation, I feel far removed from the corporatized and polished version of Pride that has been offered to us in recent years.

Thus, I have decided to spend this month highlighting aspects of queer history the mainstream often finds unpalatable. I aim to cast a spotlight upon subversive queer artists and the often-obscured dynamics of queer music history.

Photo by Rodrigo Curi on Unsplash

The best place to start is with a band whose audacious queerness empowered its fans to live their lives unapologetically and with radical self-love in the face of an often-stifling heteronormative society.

In staunch opposition to the concept of “queer marketability,” this group expressed the crux of the queer experience as something deeply emotional, often sexual and ultimately transcendental.

Limp Wrist, Raised Fist

Limp Wrist emerged in 1998 from a Philadelphia basement.

Their first performance a year later at Stalag 13, a now-defunct venue in West Philly known for its status as a punk powerhouse, carried them into the subcultural consciousness.

Cover for “Thee Official Limp Wrist Discography”

Following the dissolution of Chicago-based band Los Crudos, singer Martin Sorrondeguy and guitarist Mark Telfian decided to form Limp Wrist as a means of addressing dynamics affecting the queer community.

The band’s first release was “Don’t Knock It Till You Try It,” a self-released demo featuring savage drums and guitar and barely-comprehensible lyrics about men-loving-men.

Following this release, the band put out the single “What’s Up With The Kids” before releasing their first LP, “Limp Wrist.”


Limp Wrist’s songs are hard, fast and irreverent.

Beyond that, they’re unabashedly queer.

Their most well-known song, “I Love Hardcore Boys, I Love Boys Hardcore,” validated the presence of queerness within the hardcore punk scene, with the song’s lyrics illustrating shameless themes of sexual attraction.

I love hardcore boys, it’s too good to be true
One on one or the whole damn crew
It’s all exciting for us so lets give it a whirl
I love hardcore boys cuz they make my toes curl

Limp Wrist, “I Love Hardcore Boys, I Love Boys Hardcore”

An all-gay band, Limp Wrist stands as a pioneer of the punk queercore movement.

Also known as “homocore,” queercore emerged as an offshoot of the punk subculture in the 1980s in response to societal hostility towards the LGBT community.

Cover of the American magazine Homocore, edited by Tom Jennings and Dick Nigilson. Image depicts Jennings and Nigilson in an embrace. Demonstrates the DIY nature of the Queercore movement through production of magazines.
Cover of the American magazine Homocore, edited by Tom Jennings and Dick Nigilson. Image published by Деніел Ніколлета (Deniel Nicolleta) on Wikimedia Commons, licensed CC BY-SA 4.0

Bands associated with the subculture produced songs exploring sexuality, gender identity and the intersection of queer identities with systemic oppression.

The queercore movement primarily expressed itself through the DIY convictions of the punk movement, with members producing zines, films and other forms of art.

Limp Wrist’s contribution to the queercore subculture lay in its musical content.

With lyrics decrying homophobia and the straight hegemony as well as tounge-in-cheek quips about corporatized homosexuality, Limp Wrist created a space for unrestrained male queerness.

Don’t be the world’s punching bag
A defenseless queer open for attack
Thick Skin –They can’t get through
Layer upon layer they can’t get through

Limp Wrist, “Thick Skin”

Submissive tired f—ing scene
Boring predictable queens
Absorb and swallow what’s being pushed
Individuality is crushed

Limp Wrist, “Fake Fags”

During live shows, band members implored queer men to “stop hating their bodies” and “stop imitating Daddy.”

At one performance, frontman Martin Sorrondeguy told the audience “there’s not nearly enough guys in here with their shirts off right now,” a statement reflecting the band’s staunch philosophy of sexual expression and self-love.

Limp Wrist Today

A self-proclaimed project band, Limp Wrist’s inactivity is largely due to the fact that none of its members have ever lived in the same city as one another.

In a way, this makes it all the more special when they finally come together.

Cover for Limp Wrist’s album “Facades”

The band’s most recent activity includes a 2018 show at The Regent in Los Angeles and a 45-minute radio show with NTS Remote Utopias in May of 2020.

While the band still remains inactive on all platforms, hope prevails that current political tensions may compell them to rekindle Limp Wrist’s unique spark.

Recommended Songs

Music Education

Disco’s Revenge: The Birth of House Music

House music began in the underground clubs of 1980s-era Chicago.

Defined by its signature four-on-the-floor beat and classical tempo of 120 beats per minute, house served as the foundation for contemporary pop and dance music.

Despite house music’s significant cultural impact, its history is rarely addressed in discourse.

Not only was house music instrumental in the development of many contemporary music genres, but it was rooted in unequivocal Black queerness.

Photo by Sam van Bussel on Unsplash

The Death of Disco

Before house, there was disco.

Emerging in the 1970s, disco formed with influences from the LGBT community, Italian Americans, Hispanic and Latine Americans and Black Americans.

The genre was known for its four-on-the-floor beats, syncopated basslines, string sections, brass and horns, electric pianos, synths and electric rhythm guitars.

Though its elevaton to the mainstream distanced the genre from its roots, disco’s inception was starkly countercultural: a response to the aggression (and subcultural hypermasculinity) of rock and the social stigma surrounding dance music.

Photo by Katie Bonilla on Unsplash

Derived from within marginalized communities, disco represented a richness in history and culture far removed from the straight white hegemony of the twentieth century.

Disco centered on vivid, unapologetic self-expression rooted in the era’s overarching sexual revolution. Groups like Earth Wind & Fire and Kool and the Gang emerged, bringing disco — and its message — to a broader audience.

However, such popularity also garnered enmity.

Disco Demolition Night, an event often marked as the death of disco, occured July 12, 1979 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.

During the event, originally marketed as a Major League Baseball promotion, a crate of disco records was blown up on the field. Chaos ensued as thousands of audience members rushed out after the explosion in a riot.

This brazen display of hatred for disco music riveted the nation, inflaming the stigma already surrounding the genre. In the years following the event, disco’s popularity nosedived.

The once-bustling scene faded into virtual obscurity.

The Birth of House

In the decade proceeding the death of disco, queer Black DJs in Chicago’s underground club scene began developing something new, something that expanded upon the danceability and expressivity of disco.

Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

Among these DJs was the openly-gay Frankie Knuckles, whose impact on the genre’s development earned him the moniker “Godfather of House.”

Knuckles defined himself in the scene by playing unique mixes, blending together tracks and experimenting with different sounds and speeds. He also pioneered the practice of adding a drum machine and reel-to-reel tape player to create new tracks.

In the background of Knuckles’ musical innovations, a darkness was brewing. In June 1981, the first cases of the illness now known as AIDS were identified in five young gay men in Los Angeles.

House as a Home

While some argue that Knuckles was not the founder of house (in fact, the source of the name “house” is even contested) as a genre, it’s undeniable that his passion for the craft helped transform house into an international phenomenon.

Like disco, house was born from the creative influences of queer people of color. Its vibrance reflected a desire for freedom, autonomy and actualization.

Photo by Simon Noh on Unsplash

Dance halls were unifying spaces in which patrons could exist without fear. They became sanctuaries for individuals cast out of their broader communities on the basis of their sexual and/or gender identities.

Additionally, house reflected a bold response to the “murder” of disco at the hands of (majority white and heterosexual) detractors.

House rose from disco’s ashes a stronger, more sensational being. And it still goes strong today.

Additional Reading

New Album Review

Album Review: “Memento Mori”

Depeche Mode, formed in 1980, revolutionized the goth scene with their distinctive sound.

Now they stand behind their most recent album, “Memento Mori,” released March 24, 2023.

In the wake of Andy Fletcher’s death in May of 2022, this piece serves as a testament to the band’s unique spirit.

It manages to capture Depeche Mode’s signature style even in the absence of one of its founding members.

Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash, used under Unsplash License

“Memento Mori”

Memento mori, a Latin phrase meaning remember you must die.

Ironically, also the subject of my most recent tattoo.

This phrase, adored by the Victorians, stands as a reminder of every individual’s inherent mortality. Its interpretation varies across cultures and individuals.

In Depeche Mode’s album, I see “memento mori” as an invocation of sensation: a narrator lays himself bare before an audience, succumbing to self-doubt and despair.

Through an assortment of carefully-woven sounds, the audience enters the narrator’s “mind palace” (“My Cosmos is Mine”).

An almost smoky synth arrangement coalesces with the dismal energy of Dave Gahan’s vocals. An undercurrent of gloom stripes the band’s characteristic sensuality, painting a romantic picture of misery and yearning.

For an opening track, “My Cosmos is Mine” does an excellent job of setting the auditory scene.

However, the album’s second track, “Wagging Tongue,” is a sharp stylistic pivot. The song is comparably upbeat, though still decidely morose with the lyrics “watch another angel die.”

Compared to its darker predecessor, the song strikes a New Wave tone with a brighter, more colorful energy.

Synths function to produce vibrant electronic beats while Gahan harmonizes with bandmate Martin Gore, whose angelic voice obfuscates the song’s pessimistic lyrics.

Following “Wagging Tongue” was “Ghosts Again,” originally released as a single Feb. 9, 2023.

The song features ebullient synths and a danceable beat, again far removed from the deep gloom seen in “My Cosmos is Mine.”

Together, “Wagging Tongue” and “Ghosts Again” complement each other. However, they fail to connect to the album’s opening song.

As a fan of Depeche Mode’s more woeful sounds, (and a passionate hater of “I Just Can’t Get Enough”) I began to worry about my compatibility with the album moving forward.

I had expected something mournful and dark, but the album appeared to be moving towards the figurative “light.”

I almost considered canceling my review and selecting an album from a different artist, accepting the disappointment of “Memento Mori.”

However, everything changed as the album’s fourth track began to play.

Image of a human skull on a table.
Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash, used under the Unsplash License

A Return to Darkness

Don’t Say You Love Me,” the fourth track on “Memento Mori,” marks a drastic tonal shift away from the colorful New Wave beats of “Wagging Tongue” and “Ghosts Again.”

One may argue that the track represents a return to the style that first garnered Depeche Mode’s admiration within the goth subculture, a melange of cold industrial sounds and Gahan’s reverent voice.

Listening to Gahan wax poetic about tumultuous and toxic love was enough to restore my faith in the album. Each track moving forward continued to capture the often-theatrical melancholia of Depeche Mode and the idea of beautiful darkness.

Final Thoughts

My first introduction to Depeche Mode was through “Violator,” an album they released a decade before I was born.

I didn’t discover the album until around 2015. By then, mainstream discourses surrounding the release had long since faded.

With no point of reference, I consumed the album without an ounce of criticality (arguably one of the best ways to experience albums).

Eight years later, I approach “Memento Mori” with a wholly different perspective.

For individuals unfamiliar with the works of Depeche Mode, “Memento Mori” may not be the best place in the band’s discography to start listening.

While the album is ultimately satisfying, it maintains distance from what I would consider to be the schematic Depeche Mode.

For those just getting into the band, I would recommend starting with “Violator” or “Music for the Masses” before visiting “Memento Mori.”

Recommended Songs

Music Education

“You just think it looks cool.” Straight Edge and the Hardcore Punk Scene

I love record stores.

There’s something unparalleled about walking into a brick-and-mortar shop and seeing rows upon rows of crates and shelves, the walls papered with posters and zine covers and collages. It’s the best kind of liminal space.

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash, free to use under the Unsplash License

I went to a local record store last weekend for the first time in years. In fact, it was the first “real” record store I’d ever been to.

As I perused the crates, I was delighted to find a copy of Minor Threat’s 1981 EP, “First Two Seven Inches.”

The EP was a primary contributor to the soundtrack of my late teens. At the time, I lived in a beach town still recovering from the previous year’s hurricane.

A primier vacation spot for many middle-class families, the town fell to ruin in the off season. Homelessness, drug addiction and violent crime underscored the area’s stark wealth disparity.

The “clean” coastline was peppered with million-dollar beach homes and luxury condos. Ten miles inland, average citizens struggled to make ends meet amid a stifling job market.

Many turned to drugs and alcohol as a means of making life bearable. Among these individuals were friends, coworkers and bosses.

It was during this time that I became first acquainted with Minor Threat. The band’s jilting, ragged strains mirrored my own consternation with the building chaos in my inner circle.

Classic Album Review

Album Review: “Leidensmelodien”

Theatre’s Kiss, a self-described “depressive post-punk” artist who I discovered entirely by accident, has fundamentally changed my life with their newest album.

Leidensmelodien“, released Dec. 30, 2022, was the best belated Christmas gift a goth could ask for. This transcendental musical experience is like walking through an arctic, sobering dream.

Theatre’s Kiss

I discovered Theatre’s Kiss in the fall of 2022 while attempting to compose a setlist for my then-radio show, “The Superego” (currently on summer hiatus).

At the time, the extent of the artist’s discography was a single album — Self Titled — and six short tracks.

Those half-dozen songs fully ensnared me.

I was one of about sixty-eight monthly listeners on Spotify. And like those like-minded peers, I absolutely adored the tracks “Vulnerable” and “König.”

There was something about the style of the songs that really got to me.

As a (guilty) fan of the The Smiths for their heart-twinging melancholia, the plaintive voice of the (unnamed) vocalist struck a similar chord.

And with the gothic undertow of spectral synths and a depressive guitar added to the mix, I had found my new favorite band.

Album cover for Leidensmelodien by Theatre’s Kiss


As the creator of Theatre’s Kiss explains in a vague tagline at the end of their Spotify profile:

“It’s all about the atmosphere, nothing else matters.”

And “Leidensmelodien” is purely atmospheric.

The album’s opening track, “Downfall,” is entirely instrumental.

A sullen guitar-synth combo engages in a morose conversation, the spaces between sounds growing smaller and smaller as the song progresses and the two “voices” seem to overlap.

By the end, we’re left with a single sensation before the instruments fade out and a distinctly medieval arrangement ushers us into the next track, “Schizo.”

This five-minute song is insanely complex.

The vocals are brooding and occasionally layered to create a hazy, ominous effect.

Throughout the song, a crisp scream reminiscent of Doom Metal echoes the words of the vocalist — an elusive individual known only as “Fassse Lua” — much like screeching wind.

The contrast between these two voices, one pleasantly soft and the other jagged and rough, creates a vivid and uncanny harmony.

Though it stands as the second track of the album, “Schizo” certainly sets the tone for the rest of the piece as existing somewhere between nightmares and dreams.

The experimental combination of different ghostly and foreboding sounds means that every track on this album is a new and unique experience.

It’s almost operatic.

Album cover for Self Titled by Theatre’s Kiss

The Bigger Picture

“Leidensmelodien” is an album about grief.

Or rather, “melodies of suffering.”

And as the mind behind Theatre’s Kiss teases, this album (as well as Self Titled) is but a single chapter in a larger project.

I, for one, cannot wait to see what comes next.

Recommended Tracks

Self Titled

  • Konig
  • Vulnerable


  • Schizo
  • Cleansing Ritual
  • Imbalance of Love
  • Katharsis

Band/Artist Profile Blog

Harsh Symmetry: Artist Profile

Harsh Symmetry comes from the mind of Julian Sharwarko of Sacramento, California.

Debuting Jan. 20, 2022 with the single “Mirror Twin,” Sharwarko’s “synth-driven solo project” is consistently dark, danceable and melodic.

Harsh Symmetry’s discography draws from the classic sounds of 80s post-punk and new wave with the influences of contemporary gothic genres like darkwave and minimal wave.

The resulting sounds are both nostalgic and ethereal.

Band/Artist Profile

Obscure Artists: Douglas Für

Douglas Für, based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, presents one of the most compellingly raw and unhinged folk-punk sounds in the genre.

A former member of anarchist folk punk band Ramshackle Glory, Für is no stranger to neurotic rhythms and irreverent lyrics. With a solo career spanning between July of 2015 and August of 2016, Für plumbs the depths of his psyche to produce a curio collection of sounds across three solo albums.


Für’s three albums, the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow, Curses and Spells of Protection and Death Has 1000 Ears illustrate a strange sort of continuity in his independent work.

The jagged, lilting melodies of his first album carry into the energy of his second, where the only marked difference in sound is the album’s elevated production quality.

However, where the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow functions well as a standalone project, Für’s last two albums are directly connected.

Both share the songs “Curses” and “Sugar on Your Teeth,” though with distinctly different sounds. Curses and Spells of Protection presents a slower, almost sluggish narrative. 

In “Curses,” Für’s rust-tinged vocals seem to snag upon the edges of the accompaniment, an assortment of string instruments whose melodies seem to churn as the song progresses.

Conversely, “Sugar on Your Teeth” is frantic, maddened and markedly discordant. 

While the lyrics to “Curses” and “Sugar on Your Teeth” are the same in Death Has 1000 Ears, the delivery is completely different.

With a cleaner, clearer production quality, the album lacks the rugged edge of its predecessors. The tone is strongly jovial throughout with tinges of theatricism, a strong incovation of classic barroom ballads.

“Curses” is virtually unrecognizable between the two albums, with Death Has 1000 Ears presenting the song with a faster tempo and more lyrical delivery.

The same can be said of “Sugar on Your Teeth,” which presents a far tamer iteration of its original source material. 

Cover for the album the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow

Bad on Purpose

All the same, the entirety of Für’s work embodies a uniquely savage sound.

And by all technicalities, the music is bad. The vocals are coarse, the instruments often sharp or wailing. With the exception of Death Has 1000 Ears, the production quality is starkly lo-fi.

But therein lies what makes Für’s music so compelling. The self-made feel of Für’s work perfectly captures the core of the folk punk movement. His experimentation with the energy of classic folk sounds and the roughness of punk gives way to a strange, beautiful offspring.

His chaotic, discordant sounds express the basest of human sensations: rage, grief, passion and despair. He captures ultimate catharsis in what can only be accurately labeled as purposeful cacophony.

Douglas Für’s music is but a means of expression channeled through folk punk, a movement solidified in unyielding self-expression and imbued with a long history of tumult and resilience.

For fans of AJJ, or those who simply enjoy “bad” music, I cannot recommend Douglas Für enough. 

Recommended Songs: 

  • “Dead Twin,” “Sugar on Your Teeth” and “Shallow Cut” from Death Has 1000 Ears 
  • “the phantom wants to know” and “the phantom speaks” from Curses and Spells of Protection (ultimate favorites)
  • “cold steel” and “o’ nothing” from  the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow
Music Education

Live From the Clink: Bad Brains and “Sacred Love”

I Against I

While Bad Brains’s debut studio album, aptly titled “Bad Brains,” is indisputably iconic, “I Against I” possesses a special kind of charm.

Bad Brains, considered among hardcore punk’s original pioneers, released “I Against I” in November of 1986.

Despite the band’s original background in jazz fusion, the album presents a riveting blend of various musical elements including funk, alternative metal, rock and hardcore punk.

Consisting of ten songs, “I Against I” traverses a broad scope of musical sensations.

Unlike “Bad Brains” or the band’s demo album “Black Dots“, each song in “I Against I” has a unique feel, making for a truly dynamic listening experience.

The cover of Bad Brains's album, I Against I
Cover of Bad Brains’s third album, I Against I

“Sacred Love,” the album’s eighth song, is particularly special. Unlike the album’s other tracks, “Sacred Love” has strikingly lo-fi vocals. The song sounds like a fuzzy, crackly voicemail, the lyrics barely comprehensible.

Upon first hearing “Sacred Love,” I assumed the audio effects were a stylistic choice. However, further research revealed the truth.

The Recording of “Sacred Love”

According to testimonies from the album’s producer, Ron St. Germain and Anthony Countey, the band’s long-time manager, “Sacred Love” was performed from a D.C. correctional facility.

An excerpt of an interview from Howie Abrams and James Lathos’s novel, “Finding Joseph I: An Oral History of H.R. From Bad Brains” details the circumstances which led to the song’s unorthodox recording:

Shortly before Bad Brains was set to record I Against I, D.C. law enforcement arrested lead singer H.R. (short for Human Rights) for marijuana distribution.

According to St. Germain, the band successfully recorded nearly all of the songs in I Against I’s discography before H.R. was due to enter jail.

All songs, that is, but “Sacred Love.”

With an unfinished album and an incarcerated vocalist, Germain and Countey had to improvise.

In what St. Germain referred to as a “communal effort,” the band organized for H.R. to perform “Sacred Love” through a collect call at the jailhouse.

The setup for the recording was makeshift at best. When the initial plan to facilitate a direct patch from the phone to the recorder failed, St. Germain undertook a more DIY-style approach.

According to St. Germain, he ended up taping an Auratone monitor to an analog telephone and swaddling both in a sound blanket.

In the studio, a second phone connected H.R. directly to the rest of the band. On that phone, St. Germain taped a microphone over the receiver.

The whole process took less than two hours. The result?

Listen for yourself.

– J