Right now, bounce music is having a small resurgence, most notably outside of New Orleans. This is thanks in no small part to Drake deciding it should be the “new” music genre he has “discovered” on his latest album. With this renewed interest in the genre, it comes as no surprise that Big Freedia is being thrust back into the spotlight along with it. While this recognition is sure to be appreciated, it has been a very long time coming. Beyonce sampled Freedia’s voice back in 2016 for “Formation,” yet neglected to include her in the video; Drake would do the same thing this year with the video for “Nice For What.” Even local institutions like Jazz Fest—who included her on a poster this year, making it the first time a rapper has appeared on one of their posters—and Essence Fest (where she performed this year for the first time in its 24 year existence) have largely ignored the bounce genre as a whole. So it stands to reason that this new release would provide a direction into what the rest of Big Freedia’s output will sound like. Unfortunately, 3rd Ward Bounce paints a very muddy future. While singles like “Rent” and “Karaoke” present a highly polished version of the bounce that Freedia thrives in, tracks like “Bomb” and “Play” dip into this weird, poppy, EDM-like territory. For most of the tracks, the drums are mixed super low with Freedia’s voice taking center. While this would be less notable in a live setting, it doesn’t translate well on the studio version and thus, 3rd Ward Bounce leaves a lot to be desired. —Brandon Lattimore


Chiptune artist Elizabeth Joan Kelly’s Music for the DMV pays tribute to Brian Eno, whose Ambient 1: Music For Airports conveys an awe-struck majesty fit for the miracle of flight. Kelly’s spinoff is more terrestrial and banal, like its subject, with a bitcrushed version of Eno’s breathy human voice synth that hisses instead of singing, slowly getting under your skin. Feel like you’re at the DMV yet? Many of the songs’ titles shed light on their process or allude to their mood. “Industrial Ambient Prelude” is Chopin with a house beat. “Club Clanger” is jarringly busy, whereas “Bouncyland” is loads of fun, with an all-drum breakdown that Big Freedia might sample. Many of the rhythms here are inventive enough that you want to hear them outside the 8-bit context, with brighter synths and bigger drums. There is a sampled scream in “Ghosts in the Machine,” but other than that, “Call My Number” is the only song with vocals. It rests upon a prolonged double meaning, and sounds like a forlorn love song if you’re not in on the joke. —Michael Kunz


Hardly Ruined is the full-band EP of Jack Sledge, the moniker for local songwriter Jack Donovan. Known for his time fronting bands like New Grass Country Club and Habitat, Donovan has simplified his approach in Hardly Ruined, showcasing a variety of Southern rock tunes. “Misty Road” is an ideal opener for the EP, coming in strong with twangy chords over a slow-shuffling beat. Darker chord changes in the verses echo emotional sentiments reminiscent of Elliott Smith. The EP moves into more classic rock moods on “Personal Mall” and “View From Above,” channeling The Boss himself. The EP features Andrew Landry on bass and Ray Micarelli on drums. This trio have a history playing together and fill their positions respectfully to let Donovan’s songwriting shine. Contemporaries of Jack Sledge can come off feeling stale and unimaginative, but what sets Hardly Ruined apart is how earnest Donovan’s songs are. Overall, it documents a soulful and introspective approach to our modern world through the context of an old-world sound. —Robert Landry


Whenever you meet someone and they give you the line, “I don’t like new country music, but I love the old stuff like Waylon, Willie, or Cash,” you now have to inform them that underground traditional country is thriving. A record to start your cultural reclamation project is Joshua Hedley’s Mr. Jukebox, a collection of barroom bummers and hand clappers alike. On Mr. Jukebox, Hedley knocks the dust off 1960s style country that dominated the charts, complete with rhinestone suits. While most of his peers long for that restless outlaw sound, Mr. Jukebox is bright, the harmonies tight and precise. Songs like “Mr. Jukebox” tell the story of a man who’s slugged it out in the bars, singing for his supper. “Let’s Take a Vacation” is a slow burn straight out of George Jones’ playbook, understanding that sometimes you gotta hide when the world feels small. There’s a country music scene that’s not filled with dudes in backward ball caps rapping over a twang; but instead, there are artists true to the genre, and without the irony of auto-tune. Joshua Hedley is a great place to start. —Robert Dean


Laelume is a traditional jazz quartet fronted by pianist and accordion player Ashlae Blume. The Baltimore-born artist moves seasonally between New Orleans, where she was “raised musically,” and New York. Saturniids opens with the title track, all twinkling lounge keys broken up by Byron Asher’s smooth reeds. “Tendency” gives the rhythm section room to flex, beginning with Oliver Watkinson’s heady bass and building toward a kinetic drum solo by Moses Elder. The album moves in decidedly bebop steps, with jittery cymbal tapping and introspective, angular bass melodies. The songs manage dynamics carefully, adding emphasis to the ends of lines and building intensity until static breakdowns and solos collect dust for the next rabid horn blast to blow through. There’s a bit of a showroom feel to it, with Eastern or Romani tinged scales settling into hazy complacence rather than driving home the anxiety of nomadic life. “Relax” feels a bit like being talked down from a panic attack you weren’t really having to begin with. “Water, Water, Everywhere” breaks this trend, exploiting minor modes and a seven count toward a simmering intensity. —Michael Kunz


Mothers has birthed its second brain-child. The band began in 2013 as the solo project of Kristine Leschper, then a printmaking student at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens, Georgia. Recruiting a crew of area musicians, she released her first full-length, When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired, a thoughtful collection of pretty, Americana-rooted indie pop. Since then, Mothers has moved to Philly and traded in its folk foundation for stuttering tempi, walls of reverb, and a cold, disillusioned worldview. Where Walk a Long Distance was politely sequential, Render is rudely disjointed, jumping without notice from taut, post-punk nail-biters (“PINK,” “BAPTIST TRAUMA”) to angst-ridden ballads flooded with ambient distortion (“‘IT IS A PLEASURE TO BE HERE,’’’). Hidden among these are guitar-driven gems (“BLAME KIT,” “CIRCLE ONCE”), on which strummer Matthew Anderegg channels the quirky angularity of Frankie Broyles (OMNI, Balkans, Deerhunter), saving the album from growing languid with Leschper’s endless ennui. “I am excited by the prospect of living without a body / I am ungrateful and this proves it,” she monotones on “WEALTH CENTER / RISK CAPITAL,” summing up the aura of anguish that pervades the project. Whatever happened to Leschper between her first two releases probably wasn’t good, but it made for an excellent record. —Raphael Helfand


Orifist is decidedly a non-New Orleans-sounding metal band. There’s no sludge, the grooves aren’t creepers to hoist up a tallboy in praise, and there are no moments of Sabbath worship. Instead, Orifist is blazing fast technical death metal straight from the DNA of Dying Fetus, Death, and Cannibal Corpse. Featuring former members of Scrotesque and Sisera, Orifist slams through the tracks on this debut e.p., Behold The Fortunate, with precision. There are no sloppy chug riffs, or moments leached from the breakdown-heavy deathcore scene. Instead, tracks like “Hornless” or “Satan Tastes Like Purple” are vicious, blast beat-heavy, big-riffed monsters with no fat on the bone. Orifist’s playing is scalpel-precise while maintaining groove that’s equal parts impressive in its technicality, but insane how fast it can morph into prog nerd territory with an arpeggio sweep. For all of their technical chops, Orifist is a death metal band with an evident influence of the 90s Florida scene, but also some good ol’ Metallica and Slayer, too. This is a metal band rooted in the classics, but never losing their speed or agility, despite momentary beauty. Not every band in New Orleans has to sound like DOWN or EyeHateGod. For a city as diverse as this one is, it’s high time the scene diversifies. —Robert Dean


Shamarr Allen’s True Orleans is a celebration of good times and New Orleans culture. It opens with a love song to the city entitled “The Greatest Place in the World,” featuring Big Freedia chanting the title in the chorus. Months prior to the album’s release, its energetic Saints anthem “Hit the Sean Payton” achieved viral status with over two million views on Facebook. The album’s other potential big single, “I Love You,” is a lighthearted song dedicated to all those who make life special. A well-established trumpeter, Allen uses his horn skills to accent his singing and rapping. Instead of utilizing full-band arrangements steeped in rock, funk, and jazz like Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs’ first two albums, these songs lean heavier on brass-tinged hip-hop beats. Although Allen frequently takes trumpet solos and prominently features horns in his arrangements, this music doesn’t fall in line with the tight borders of the city’s brass band canon. At the same time, Allen’s broad approach to music doesn’t pin him in with most local rappers, hip-hop producers, or singers either. By not falling in line with others’ strict preconceptions, True Orleans captures something that is truly New Orleans. —William Archambeault


At Weddings may have been released early, over the summer, anticipating a slower burn over autumn’s placid decay. Equal parts folk, trance, and twee, the Kentucky singer/songwriter’s debut feels like fall. It’s the texture of a fuzzy sweater. It comes from a Southern artist, but it’s pointedly cool, even cold. Hand-strummed guitar, affected drum loops, and ambient sounds whirl into a brand new phenomenon, framing a blunt, melancholy voice. “Self-Help,” the first single (dropped before the album’s release in August) shifts between a declining vocal melody and an endlessly rising single note break that collapses into cacophony. There’s an inescapable lethargy here. “February” starts a chord progression and never finishes it, lets the last note linger, and closes each line in silence. Two of the songs are left untitled. There’s also an insecurity. “When you pick up the phone I’ll stay on the line,” the singer insists, “and I’ll do more than breathe.” These timid songs indulge and then purge our fear faculties. Tomberlin stands in for the parts of ourselves we wish were more assertive. —Michael Kunz


Tropical Fuck Storm lives up to their name. A cacophonous debut, A Laughing Death in Meatspace is unpredictable, winding, and occasionally frustrating, but never boring. Following a buzzing rollout of non-album singles—including a sardonic cover of the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive”—A Laughing Death… proves that TFS’ penchant for noisy psychedelia translates splendidly into a long-form release. Vocalist Gareth Liddiard is known for his political songwriting, especially as a member of stalwart Aussie group The Drones. In a January interview, Liddiard expressed frustration with the recent cross-pollination of politics and music, suggesting he was adjusting his approach. Despite this, standout cut “Soft Power” begins with a thinly veiled jab at Trump, though a certain level of self-awareness manifests within these lyrics. As the song progresses, TFS sheds layer after layer of noise, leaving the listener alone with quietly textured splashes of feedback and Liddard’s unmistakably gravelly voice. “The downside is we’re all about to get royally fucked / and the upside is we’re all about to get screwed,” Liddiard croons, encapsulating the cognitive, political, and musical dissonance that Tropical Fuck Storm so expertly captures on their debut. —Andy Swicord


Warzone opens with the title track, a startling Revel-esque march complete with machine guns, elephant calls, and Ono’s trademark howl. It risks slipping into farce, until you’re hit with a direct call to action: “If you hear me, please help us.” Ono repeats the line, and as the music fades, she’s still pleading, naked despair in her voice. This is Yoko Ono’s triumphant return to agitprop. It’s also a best-of collection, every song a new take on an earlier release. The opener first appeared on 1996’s Rising as a short blast of hardcore punk. Here, Ono lets feminism and anti-war ideals meet head-on: “Men flashing their guns and balls / Women looking like Barbie dolls.” Seven of the 13 tracks originated on 1985’s Starpeace, the last time Ono went all-in on a protest album. The messages remain relevant in the new millenium, and they’re driven home faster by sparser arrangements. The arrestingly fragile “I Love All of Me” gains the most by losing the new wave bombast of its Starpeace counterpart. There are pitfalls in re-releasing political music more than 30 years later. Lines like, “I’m a Black man who’s come to terms with his anger,” may have slipped by unnoticed in the ‘80s; today, intersectional feminists of all stripes will question whether an Asian American should speak for the Black community. Yoko Ono’s activism, however steeped in the naivety of the ‘60s, is still pertinent. Who else could convincingly deliver the line, “Are we gonna keep shooting the ones that try to change?” I won’t spoil the last track, except to say it’s a song Ono never received credit for until last year. And—for the online debates it will inspire—it’s a shoe-in for a Super Bowl ad. —Michael Kunz



People look at today’s ad-drenched, scrupulously surveilled Internet and wonder what became of the idealism of the early Web. But, as Levine engagingly points out, the Internet has never been the autonomous utopia that hippies and tech gurus envisioned. Its history has been intertwined with the surveillance state since the 1960s, when military researchers dreamed of computer networks for tracking dissidents here and abroad. Defense funding was common at the labs from which grad student startups like Google emerged. And while Internet companies might resist government monitoring, they’re collecting as much data on their users as they can. At times, Levine struggles to fully connect all the dots: it’s not clear that government grant-funded research automatically leads to heavy state influence, for example. Still, Levine offers an important reminder that the Internet is shaped by people and the society that builds it—not by an autonomous world beyond our control. —Steven Melendez

Verified by MonsterInsights