Now Hear This!Special independent gay music edition

Ari Gold – Transport Systems
Gold 18 Records
Grade A+

Moving forward is the theme of blue-eyed R&B looker Ari Gold’s third independent release and never was an album so aptly named. Transport Systems is a pop music masterpiece chock full of grooving rhythms that are equal part modern pop and classic R&B. This is without a doubt Gold’s most ambitious project yet. Like the first single suggests, Gold seems truly dedicate with this album to “Go Where the Music Takes You” no matter if it’s in a direction that is indefinite or scary.

Gold’s upbeat attitude and powerful presence is at the forefront of every track no matter what the subject matter involved. Standout tracks on the album include the innovative Mr. Mistress and the funky anthem Soul Killer.

Ari Gold is at the top of his game with Transport Systems, and it will be a great experience seeing what he manages to come up with next.

Brian Kent – Breathe Life
Solid Sound Records
Grade: B+

Brian Kent has just about done it all. From appearing on television to backing up Kristine W as a dancer and now he is venturing out into new territory by releasing his first ever dance album.

The album is a pulsating collection of deeply personal experiences set to driving dance beats and high energy, up tempo musical accompaniment. The title track Breathe Life sets the tone for the entire album encouraging the listener to take it all in.

Club-friendly from beginning to end, the biggest drawback of the album is that at points it seems to be trying too hard to be both club music and popular dance music. Kent is an able songwriter and the addition of a bevy of big names from the dance world certainly helps, but lets face it: Kristine W he’s not, but one would be hard pressed to discern from the musical arrangements that Kent was going for anything else. However, he could do much worse than to emulate Ms. W.

Joshua Harrell – Brighter Day
Red Diamond Records
Grade: B-

Joshua Harrell’s first full length album is a collection of infectiously catchy electronica mixed with good-old fashioned neo-soul and trip-hop influences giving the album an eclectic feel without sacrificing continuity of the music.

While it is apparent that Harrell is new to songwriting (as a couple of the tracks feel a bit forced and even somewhat dated [Touch My Body] and his vocal range is somewhat limited in places), Harrell does a great job working around his limitations even if he doesn’t completely overcome them. With a little work and some tweaking of his sonic palette, Harrell could well become a contender for well-crafted pop-centric dance music. As first albums go, this is a daring and mostly well rendered offering that deserves a listen.

Look for Joshua Harrell to refine his sound and release more tempered and focused work as time goes on and he grows more steadily into his role as a recording artist.

Read extended interviews online with Ari Gold, Brian Kent and Joshua Harrell at in the Now Hear This! section.

National Margarita Day

A lot of us have really picked up an interest in tequila and it's no wonder. Its popularity is soaring in the U.S. and doesn't look like it'll be slowing down any time soon. The only contender would probably be whiskey. Meh, but they have their own day. Now, it's National Margarita Day and we put together some of the best margarita recipes around so you can pick one or maybe even all of them to try.

We have a few surprises in there too. Maybe it's not all about tequila but it certainly has a theme going on. Take a look at some of these great tequila brands and start making some amazing margaritas today!

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Gender-Inclusive Universities and Student Privacy

For many students, attending university is a profound, often life-changing, transition. It is often the student’s first time living on their own without parental supervision. This lifestyle is also accompanied by a period of self-discovery, of defining and redefining a sense of personal identity largely independent of the influence of family and friends from home.

For students who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, this rite of passage can also be a deeply empowering one. Indeed, attending university may be the student’s first real opportunity to explore their gender identity in a safe, comfortable, and accepting college.

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José Cuervo's Reserva de la Familia agave fields

Disclaimer: My trip was provided courtesy of a press trip but all opinions about the trip and events are my own. Please note there are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you make a purchase.

I had the opportunity to visit Mexico for an event José Cuervo was putting on, the unveiling of their premium tequila brand, Reserva de la Familia. The trip was all about tequila, how to drink it properly, how to pair it with food, and of course, visiting various points of interest in Guadalajara while tasting tequila along the way.

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