A Hanging delivers three extremely tight and effective bangers on their side of this split 7”—at 45 RPM no less. “Document” is the standout track, featuring a spicy breakdown and surprise ending from this otherwise meat-and-potatoes (or should I say red-beans-and-rice) Southern style thrash/hardcore band. If A Hanging is like slamming shots of Fireball on a Saints game Sunday, WOORMS (from Baton Rouge) is more like stuffing your face full of mushrooms and playing hooky on an overcast Monday. A slow drone buildup gives way to sludge, which devolves into noise, all on WOORMS’ single track, “The Math Says Yes.” This 7” is one of those fun releases where a bunch of shit falls out when you open up the jacket, including stickers and a download code. A nice sweet and salty mix of contemporary Louisiana hardcore (But which one is which?). —Dan Fox


If you’ve lived in New Orleans for more than a year, and you still haven’t heard of The Bills, you’re probably a narc. They’re famous for blasting no-frills surf rock tailor-made for seedy bars. Check’s in the Mail follows The Bills’ established script: high octane blues progressions and straight ahead rock riffs. Vocals are either mixed low or done away with altogether; some of the strongest tracks are instrumental. A ghoulish organ drives “The Fly” while “The Maggot” features a gin-soaked harmonica. There’s a comforting familiarity to surf and psychobilly communities like the one The Bills champion. They carry the torch for the 1950s greaser archetype: sideburns, big body Cadillacs, and blue-haired flappers. This record may not break any new ground, but it’s perfect for turning your next backyard barbecue into Satan’s banquet. —Michael Kunz


Tomorrow Problem is a three-song release from local proto-punk band Casual Burn. Their explosive energy and muddy resonance have hypnotized crowds of all cliques. New Orleans has seen a surge of similar garage punk such as Gland and Waste Man. And while Casual Burn fits in among these groups, their sound is far less whimsical. Tomorrow Problem is full of straight-hitters flooded with distortion and billowing riffs, courtesy of David Sabludowsky. And even though engineer Jasper Den Hartigh (known for his band Heat Dust) isn’t featured instrumentally, his influence is obvious in the band’s overall gritty tone. “Normopathy” opens the release as Nathan Bluford pounds on his toms in suit with Sabludowsky. Amid the wreckage, Monet Maloof howls, her voice strutting across the songs front and center in suit with Kathleen Hanna. “Decline” offers a catchy lead-in riff while Carlos Knoop drives the song forward on bass VI. The track’s kinetics move the listener back and forth, keeping things interesting. The release closes with “Channel 52,” perhaps a reference to the TV channel where youngsters of the ‘90s could catch squiggly porno. The song opens with oozing distortion and a tumbling beat but quickly launches into tight and fast rhythms. Tomorrow Problem serves as an excellent springboard for Casual Burn, hopefully signaling a well-crafted full-length in the future. —Robert Landry


Much has been made of Donovan Wolfington’s sudden disbanding before the official release of their new album, mostly because they chose to go out on a high note. They stay rooted in the melodic punk they’re known for but expand to incorporate everything from dissonant grindcore to ambient dream pop. Each song tries to cover as many genres as possible. Tempos change on a dime without warning. Amidst the chaos, the hooks feel unforced, almost effortless, especially in the plaintive “Empty Space.” It’s hard to imagine the band being pulled apart by increasingly disparate tastes, but the breakneck change-ups may have more to do with compromise than spontaneity. The music sounds free, while the band is moving in different directions. One wants to go heavier. One wants to be more accessible. And one is gravitating toward electronic music and hip-hop. This record feels like punk rockers on the verge of discovering something new, and it could become an important transition piece for countless skater kids looking to broaden their horizons. —Michael Kunz


This collection of ten pleasant electronic instrumentals is the debut from the somewhat mysterious Grounding, and was produced by the equally mysterious Record Office Records’ Michael O’Keefe, who may have one of the most eclectic collections of analogue synths and recording gear in the city. Despite that arsenal at Grounding’s disposal, however, this album feels pretty sparse and clean, with no more than a handful of distinct sounds on each song, making for a smooth—almost too smooth at points—listen. You won’t find any of the brooding minor chord atmospheres that seem popular with the Netflix Generation these days, but more of a happy, easygoing soundtrack (see “Drug Beach,” for example, which has a corresponding soft-focus video on YouTube). Overall, it’s not the kind of album that will blow your hair back, but would be good for driving around, studying, cleaning, or really any time you need to low-key hypnotize yourself and just float. —Dan Fox


Superstar tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington has transcended our mortal plane. His newest release, Heaven and Earth, is a two-hour double album jam-packed with symphonic glory. Washington has explained it as an attempt to underscore the dichotomy between the inner and outer modes of existence. With such a complex premise, Heaven and Earth has a lot to live up to, and in most respects, the record doesn’t disappoint. On side Earth, Washington experiments with a unique pastiche of sound, combining classic jazz, salsa, and Afro-Latinx percussions. On side Heaven he lightens things up, letting listeners breathe with the free-flowing cinematic elements of the opening track, “The Space Travelers Lullaby,” and the futuristic depth found on “Journey.” Both sides of the album sport smooth, feminine vocals that add volumes to its texture. Unfortunately, many songs on this album are overly complicated and get lost in translation, so listening to the full-length can sometimes feel like attempting to decipher the chaotic language of an extraterrestrial. Skip around and find the moments that give you the least anxiety—it will help you decode Washington’s encrypted messages. —Maeve Holler


Five years after the release of the amazing Amygdala, DJ Koze is back after taking a break, having released only a few remixes here and there in between. Once again he proves he is a master of his craft with the ability to transcend multiple genres at the same time. A perfect example is on “Colors of Autumn,” which features a very surprising appearance by Speech (of Arrested Development fame). Floating over a gentle beat that Koze tops with a funky guitar loop, Speech raps about the beginnings of a relationship that wouldn’t sound out of place on a grade school playground. The album’s real standout and perhaps the best introduction to DJ Koze’s discography as a whole is “Pick Up.” Going back to the basics of electronic DJing, Koze uses only three elements for the song: a melodic sample, a kick drum pattern, and the voice of Gladys Knight fading in and out. While seemingly simple to put together, it’s hard to imagine any other producer generating the results that Koze ends up with here: an instant classic dance record that is melancholic yet euphoric and is sure to be played at the end of many a DJ set for years to come. —Brandon Lattimore


Shannon Shaw is the frontperson of Shannon and the Clams and bassist of  John Waters’ favorite band, Hunx and His Punx. Shaw’s work with Shannon and The Clams—with its ‘60s bubblegum, garage rock, girl group swagger—has been compared to the likes of Wanda Jackson. Shannon In Nashville, Shaw’s solo debut, was produced by Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) with Aretha Franklin’s studio band, and it reminds me of Leslie Gore or Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis. The lyrical content on the track “Broke My Own” dives into heartbreak headfirst: “But don’t worry about this heart of mine / It’s been busted for a long time / You’ll only find static on that line / So hang up the telephone / Cause I already broke my own.” In other words, Shaw is not the type to get broken up with—she is the one who breaks up with you. This record is a far cry from the four track recording of Shannon and The Clams’ demo I first heard. Shaw is now a seasoned musician who has rightfully earned her keep as an artist, and Shannon in Nashville conveys sophisticated bittersweet ballads of grown woman shit. —Nessa Moreno


Cash Askew and Kennedy Ashlyn of Them Are Us Too were an emerging young dream pop shoegaze duo with comparisons to legends like the Cocteau Twins. Tragically, TAUT came to a definite halt on December 2nd, 2016: Askew was one of 36 victims of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. After her devastating loss, Kennedy continued with music, carrying on as SRSQ. Amends is the result of collaborative efforts between Cash Askew’s family and her loved ones to assemble a collection of unfinished demos. Wedged between thank you and farewell, this is TAUT’s final release. This brief and touching record provides a sense of closure both from grieving and the traumatizing displacement many residents of DIY spaces suffered in the aftermath of Ghost Ship. Listening to Amends with intent and empathy, you can feel the stages of grief within these six songs: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and ultimately acceptance. Amends is a heartbreaking, harsh, somber, and beautiful production. Rest in Peace, Cash. —Nessa Moreno


Waste Man’s first full length is immensely thrilling. A New Type Of Worry sports a flirtatious and barefaced exterior in how the songs jolt the listener, but its core is rooted in internal misgivings. This emotional context, joined with highly fused song structures, makes for an imaginative punk release. Songs like “Chuff” and “Wanting Ones” display rapid, grimy guitar riffs complementary of Jack Riley and Christian Borges, who shoot notes through the dancing rhythmic maneuvers of Gabriel Borges’ drums. “Stick Em’ Up” and “Night Dripper” are less intense, leaving room for lead vocalist Jack Long to showcase some different vocal styles aside from his scratchy yelling, and Dylan Siegelman on bass provides more introspective moods moving to congruent notes. The aesthetic of the band could be compared to Shellac or Rapeman in terms of overall attitude. However, their production is superior to other bands of this nature thanks to Mike Saladis—Big Mike as they call him—the former drummer of Donovan Wolfington who recorded the album. Saladis’ ear for clean sounds makes the album as enjoyable as a pop album but with the attire of a punk band. —Robert Landry


Philly rapper Tierra Whack’s debut album, Whack World, is exactly 15 songs and 15 minutes long. The reason for this is pretty simple: Whack World was made with the videos in mind (which you can find on YouTube as one long visual album) and she wanted each video to be posted on Instagram, which has a limit of exactly one minute for videos. While this seems like an awkward way for an artist to roll out their first LP, Whack World is filled with so many creative ideas in such a short amount of time, you’ll barely notice. During the album’s short runtime, Whack effortlessly switches from a silky R&B anthem on “Hookers,” to a sweet tribute to the passing of her pet on “Pet Cemetery,” to a trap-laced brush off of an ex on “Sore Loser.” The whole time, her sharp wit is on point, whether it’s on the aforementioned “Sore Loser” (“Had a few in the past / But them boys ain’t last / Where them boys with the cash / Ex dead if you ask me”) or when she makes new abbreviations for cable network stations to describe an awkward friendship on “Cable Guy” (“It goes like / ABC / all boys cry / MTV / men touch vaginas / BET / bitches eat tacos / You wanna be seen with me”). Whack world reminds me of when I heard Madvillainy for the first time. Like MF Doom before her, Tierra Whack realizes she doesn’t have to linger to impress you. And once the last note of somber album closer “Waze” hits, you will find yourself immediately hitting play again. —Brandon Lattimore



Boots Riley’s debut feature Sorry to Bother You is a work of hyperreal speculative satire that has been compared to Idiocracy and Brazil, though it has more gravity than the former, more levity than the latter, and more velocity, bravery, and style than the two combined. The film is a series of fearless escalations, focused around a telemarketing office in a late-capitalist dystopia where housing is scarce, basic rights are unprotected, and existence itself is so precarious that workers are incentivized to live and work in labor camps for massive corporations. Sorry to Bother You is composed of rich, layered, self-contained vignettes that stand out in our memories as though they were shorts. While the topics may sound dry—the pitfalls of union organizing, racial realities of class mobility, biopower, necropolitics, global trade, white consumption of Black culture—they are made vivid with skillful, ruthless humor. The soundtrack heavily features The Coup, Riley’s hip-hop group and an Oakland fixture since the ‘90s, as well as Tune-Yards, experimental musicians who are newer Oakland residents. The visual style carries and propels the story, recalling the Crass slogan, “Be warned! The nature of your oppression is the aesthetic of our anger.” Tessa Thompson’s wardrobe and accessories alone are iconic—surely the market will soon be saturated with bootleg “The Future is Female Ejaculation” shirts and “Murder Murder Murder/Kill Kill Kill” doorknockers. Playful stylistic elements expand the emotional range of the film, serving as a perfect counterpoint to the depths of depravity. Lakeith Stanfield stars as an avatar for Riley, and the whole cast is stacked, complete with cameos from every cool Oakland culture-bearer. Oakland itself is a character, appearing in all its vibrant, contentious glory—a community fighting the forces of tech to survive on contested land. This movie could be challenging for those who are unable or unwilling to surrender to the ride. For the daring, willing, and agile, though, this visionary film will be the most refreshing thing you’ll see all summer. —Beck Levy & Beau Patrick Coulon



Vibrating smartphones and endless Facebook feeds sap our attention spans and happiness. They’re getting us hooked, until we’re spending hours a day mindlessly tapping through apps. That’s A.N. Turner’s argument, supported by a thorough survey of scientific research into the Internet’s evolution and its addictive properties. Turner once worked for an online ad firm, but he’s since drastically curbed his media consumption (especially pornography), and he’s much happier for it. Less convincing are his thoughts on how others can follow. Their practical limitations emphasize how Internet overuse is a societal problem to solve, not just an individual affliction to conquer. Muting notifications and only reading emails and texts a few times a day just isn’t compatible with many people’s social and professional obligations. Not checking a smartphone first thing in the morning sounds relaxing, unless you really do need to check your email or calendar to plan your day. Turner’s lengthy diatribe on porn melds a personal account of his efforts to taper and quit watching with science suggesting that sexualized media promotes bad behavior, plus some folk wisdom about how masturbation makes people lazy and vulnerable to disease. Overall, while informative, the book’s usefulness is limited by Turner’s tendency to broadly generalize from his own personal experiences. —Steven Melendez


Today, E-Z UP Tents shelter people injecting and smoking illicit drugs in alleys and parks across Canada. That country, like this one, is facing a fentanyl and carfentanil poisoning crisis of epic proportions. People equipped with naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote, staff the tents and stock them with supplies to help prevent injuries, wounds, and infectious disease transmissions. None of these lifesaving sites would be possible without the almost 40-year organizing efforts in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Shaped by the tensions that intensify and recede repeatedly between the drug user’s union, stakeholder communities, and The State, Fighting For Space is an intense deep dive into the very human and flawed act of movement building. High points include experiments in safer drug consumption spaces, with names like “Back Alley,” “Thunder Box,” and “Hair Salon”; protests and occupations with a syringe, a casket, and “Killing Fields” of epic scale; and a high court decision in favor of Insite, North America’s first authorized safer injection facility. But the book’s source of spirit is the cast of real-life characters, unashamedly described at times as charming and obnoxious, saintlike and scandalous. In the moments when Lupick’s heroes behave like toddlers in parallel play, fractured by ideological opposition and big personalities, the author inserts essential philosophical and practical lessons from the global resistance to the war on drugs. With a journalist’s—rather than comrade’s—perspective, the author is encyclopedic in his research, but inadequately addresses inappropriate disclosures and stigmatizing language. Ultimately, the lesson learned from Downtown Eastside’s luminaries who power this story—and from the book itself—is the old adage, “Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good.” Fighting for Space is very good. —Nora Maria Fuller


Arthur Fellig, the photographer known universally as Weegee for his ability to arrive at crime scenes as if steered by otherworldly guides, captured iconic images that seem torn from a real-life film noir. Hardboiled policemen crouch over gunshot victims; children sprawl on tenement fire escapes in the summer heat; and New Orleans strippers relax backstage at a burlesque theater. Weegee, a Jewish immigrant to New York from Eastern Europe, contributed to newspapers like the Daily News and magazines like Life as photojournalism boomed in the 1930s and 1940s. Images he’d rush to print with help from a portable police radio and a car full of camera equipment would inspire artists from director Stanley Kubrick to photographer Diane Arbus. Bonanos—a New York magazine editor who previously published a history of Polaroid—delivers snapshots of Weegee’s career from his early days in The New York Times darkroom, to national fame as a cigar-chomping, streetsmart photojournalist to his later experiments with distortion effects that failed to garner much commercial or art world success. The stories behind Weegee’s photos, not all of which are wholly unstaged, are fascinating, though Bonanos reveals surprisingly little about the personal life and relationships of the man behind the camera. —Steven Melendez


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