antigravity-sept2016-reviews_aphex-twin_cheetahAPHEX TWIN

Richard D. James has certainly been prolific these past few years. Between 2014’s triumphant Syro (the vast archive of previously-unreleased tracks put up on Soundcloud) and last year’s Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2, he’s been working at a pace unmatched since last decade. The electronic-music-virtuoso-toend- them-all has returned with a new offering, Cheetah. Starting with an exercise in chromatic tension and release, “CHEETAHT2 [Ld spectrum],” Cheetah is an understated thriller. While James isn’t exactly reinventing himself as he’s done in the past, this EP is masterful. Murky sounds are paired with crisp, clean ones, as well as interesting choices—such as a flanger effect on the drums which works perfectly. On “CIRKLON 1,” wild erratic arpeggios are paired with delayed snares to make one feel as pleasantly disjointed as possible. The finisher, “2×202-ST5” features acid synth sounds ranging from deep and pounding to airy and ticklish. James has never been an ordinary artist, and this is no ordinary EP. He’s a master of his craft, and clearly still having a good time. —Corey Cruse



This split 10” came out months ago and these songs have been available on different formats for a little while. But it’s about time these two Baton Rouge bands finally collaborated on something (especially since they used to share a member). The Barghest side contributes a song from their insanely limited Into Weeping Firmament CD-EP, featuring a new line-up and new vocalist. They sound almost completely different, but with the same “black metal” ferocity. A shorter version of Thou’s “The Mystery of Contradictions” (which I originally thought was entitled “Eyehatethou”) was released last year on Soundcloud. The longer vinyl version includes a reworking of “Blank” by Eyehategod at the end. This is the soundtrack to your abysmal nothingness. —Carl Elvers



Written and recorded in an abandoned office space in New Mexico, Deerhoof’s The Magic is a tasty smorgasbord of sounds. They continue to cash in on that unique songwriting blend of pop, classic rock, jazz, punk, and hip hop, which would typically result in a bad Bourbon Street band, if that band weren’t Deerhoof. The Magic opens with “The Devil and his Anarchic Surrealist Retinue” which plays on the elements of Satomi Matsuzaki’s vocals, coupled with swirling guitars and shifting dynamic instrumental breaks, thanks to Greg Saunier’s exceptional precise-yet-fumbling drumming. Matsuzaki takes a break from singing in songs like “That Ain’t No Life To Me,” and guitarist Ed Rodriguez takes over, paying attribution to the band’s punk roots with four chords and changes on the downbeats. On much of the album, Rodriguez and Deerhoof’s other guitarist, John Dieterich, play synthesizers and keyboards as well, resulting in songs like “Criminals of The Dream” and “Model Behavior,” whose attitude is softened by the additional

instrumentation. While Deerhoof’s other albums may stand out as staples, The Magic is an impressive example of the band’s commitment to authentic musical exploration. —Robert Landry


antigravity-sept2016-reviews_gouge-away-diesGOUGE AWAY

Gouge Away is a breath of fresh air underneath the entitled macho umbrella of violence that persists in most hardcore scenes. Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Gouge Away offers firm perspectives on leaking social norms and anxieties that plague women and other underrepresented groups, a message and attitude that come through especially in “Exhibit: Closed.” Throughout , Dies, fuzzy choking bass lines shoot through pounding drums as borderline shrieking vocals cake over the flood of girdled guitars. The band plays well together, pulling out all the typical hardcore moves, so this album is musically unsurprising enough to make its lyrics the focus. “Enough” contrasts with the faster paced songs, switching dynamics with slow pulling drums as down-stroked chords step in and out of verses. Despite the typical song structures, the band is tight, so the album breezes through head bopping monotony. The album closer “Wildflowers” offers an interesting mood shift—a more vulnerable, honest side of the band emerges, begging to be hugged and lifted up. Hopefully this debut release is the first of many. —Robert Landry


antigravity-sept2016-reviews_jenny-hval_blood-bitchJENNY HVAL

The world needs an album that’s period blood themed. Period blood is a tie that binds. All (well, we’ll say most) women have a period. Men have been around periods, whether they like that fact or not. If a man has had a mother, aunt, sister, girlfriend, friend, or co-worker with a vagina, periods have been a part of their life in some way. The word “period” should be written and read until it doesn’t seem gross or taboo anymore. Period blood isn’t the only type of blood thematically dealt with on Hval’s goth-y follow up to 2015’s Apocalypse, girl. All blood is put on the table here. We all have it. We’re all the same. We all have at least this one thing in common. Listen to this alone in your house one night and when the line “last night I took my birth control with rosé” comes up on the song “The Plague,” give yourself a little wink in the mirror. We’re all so gross and weird, and that’s kind of the coolest thing about humanity. —Kelly McClure


antigravity-sept2016-reviews_daniel-lanois_goodbye-to-languageDANIEL LANOIS

Best known as a producer and architect of the sounds that remade U2 (Achtung Baby) and Bob Dylan (Oh Mercy), Daniel Lanois has been creating his own music in studios from Canada to New Orleans to Los Angeles. Lanois’ songs have been featured in commercially prominent albums such as Acadie and For The Beauty Of Wynona; but in recent years, he has doubled back to his earlier work with another now-famous producer, Brian Eno, for inspiration. Resulting from this turnabout so far are the albums Flesh And Machine and most recently Goodbye To Language. As ambient music goes, Language is a seductive listening experience, the result of Lanois and indie musician Rocco Deluca playing and stretching the sound of two pedal steel guitars to nearly unrecognizable depths. The sounds have been used to great effect in Lanois’ productions, but when they are unmoored from that context, the effect is that of variations straddling a fine line between near-symphonic (there’s even a song called “Satie,” after the avant-garde composer) and merely repetitive. Lanois’ detours into these alleys are interesting to a point, but one can only go so far in deconstructing one’s own sound. —Leigh Checkman


antigravity-sept2016-reviews_little-bags_little-bagsLITTLE BAGS

Little Bag’s self-titled debut is a great soundtrack for traveling around the hot muck of New Orleans this time of year: 30 minutes of punk tunes to contemplate all your screw ups. Recorded in 2013, the tape is a time capsule, and it features most of the musicians who now tour the globe as PEARS. Despite sharing 3/4ths of the same lineup, Little Bags doesn’t sound much like the frantic hardcore of PEARS. The group instead focuses on lyric-driven pop-punk and more conventional song structures. One of their biggest strengths is Zach Quinn’s songwriting: his lyrics are introspective and honest, and the tunes are catchy and memorable without being overly poppy. It’s hard to get the “doot doot” backing vocals on “Lay Low” out of my head. Another notable number is “Violins,” which Quinn recently included on a solo acoustic album. This version feels rawer and more energetic, probably due to the album being recorded at a house instead of a studio. The tape closes with “Open House,” a hectic and noisy tune that recalls Quinn’s early Lollies recordings like Unleash the Romance. The song is a logical closer, grinding away and devolving into a feedback mess. —William Archambeault


antigravity-sept2016-reviews_the-loblaws_vista-blue_radiant-radish_mutantTHE LOBLAWS/VISTA BLUE

Former New Orleanian, power pop wonder, and Robinsons member Mike Patton wields his indomitable buzzsaw popcraft in two outfits on this split. First, the Loblaws transcend Ramonescore through ultra-sweet Beach Boys harmonies and careful Weezer nods. “Tossing and Turning” and “Watch Out For Me” really stand out for their seamlessness, as does “Banana Stand,” but here Patton seems to be making sure listeners stay with him, even in such a popular referent. On Vista Blue’s side, “When She Cries” and “Maybe Tomorrow” each exemplify the whole split’s poppy delight and offer its most relatable messages. The wholesome pop of this album is almost a polar opposite of the other Mike Patton and finds some kinship with the Clean and Half Japanese, fellow lo-fi rock bands composed of brothers. Despite the dedicated lack of psychedelia or chaos, this split is still adult and fun. —Ben Miotke



After two years of hype and a guest verse on a Chance the Rapper release, Chicago rapper Noname has dropped her album Telefone, subsequently establishing herself as one of the strongest young rappers today. The cover, depicting a childlike portrait of the artist with a skull on the top of her head, stands as a warning to the listener that the content of this album is steeped in the subject of death. Whether it’s discussing the process of an abortion on “Bye Bye Baby,” losing loved ones to police brutality on “Casket Pretty,” or describing her own funeral on the final track “Shadow Man,” tragedy is constantly on Noname’s mind. Despite the heartbreaking events in Telefone, all the beats sound like they could have been produced for a southside Chicago version of Sesame Street. In Noname’s world, she and the early unjustified deaths of those around her are sadly just another part of life, thus she isn’t weighed down by it. “Fuck it, I’ll live forever,” she proclaims on album centerpiece “Forever,” a statement that comes off as both a proud declaration and an affront. With Telefone, Noname has released one of the best and most vital rap albums of the year. —Brandon Lattimore


antigravity-sept2016-reviews_frank-ocean_blondFRANK OCEAN

In the song “Nikes,” off his new release Blonde, Frank Ocean briefly sets a scene that is all too familiar to anyone who has been paying attention to what has been happening to Black America over the past ten years or so: a snapshot of what it is to be young and Black post-Trayvon Martin and Black Lives Matter. In the next part of the song, the words “I may be younger, but I’ll look after you” jump out as the greater force behind this latest release, part of a multimedia triptych consisting of Blonde, the “visual album” Endless, and a limited-run magazine titled Boys Don’t Cry. Still young but certainly getting older, Ocean sings and raps about the condition he’s in—indeed, in many ways, the condition we all could be in—backed by minimal, yet beautifully essential instrumentation. What is it, in the estimation of Blonde, to look after ourselves and others, to look forward with constant glances back? Whether it’s songs of cars, boys and girls interspersed with clips of a mother’s message against drugs, or a Frenchman puzzling out how social media has fractured his relationship, the way the questions are raised is as fascinating and enigmatic as the answers Ocean gives, and the ones we tease out for ourselves. —Leigh Checkman


antigravity-sept2016-reviews_of-montreal_innocence-reachesOF MONTREAL

Experimental indie psych rock band Of Montreal recently dropped their 14th studio album, Innocence Reaches, which quickly delves into a more electronic/EDM hook than the group’s former sounds. Despite the fact Of Montreal is constantly shape-shifting, in an interview with Rolling Stone, frontman Kevin Barnes described this album as his way of assessing and assimilating into current music: “I got into this bubble of only being in some other time period. I came up picking apart the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and symphonic pieces. But last year, I was hearing Jack Ü, Chairlift, Arca, and others, thinking about low end and sound collage.” So while the band has been pulling from the ‘60s for the past two decades, you can finally hear the 21st century infiltrating Innocence Reaches. With compelling songs such as “let’s relate” and “it’s different for girls” (which leave lyrics like “How do you identify?” and “They’ve built miles of defenses / They’re not numbed by oppression” ringing in your ears), this is certainly a pivotal album for Of Montreal. While Barnes is no stranger to subverting normative behavior (e.g., dancing around stage in tights and elaborate costumes), the subject matter throughout Innocence Reaches is lashing and dynamic and lets us see the Athens, Georgia supergroup through yet another lens. —Maeve Holler


antigravity-sept2016-reviews_sharks-teeth_it-transfers-and-growsSHARKS’ TEETH

New Orleans is a rough spot for synth fanatics, but there are four of them in Sharks’ Teeth, and It Transfers & Grows finally gives us an act who fully evokes synth pop’s vital, paradoxical craft: ultra-satisfying pop and otherworldly atmosphere. Opening track “Don’t Touch My Feet” is a live favorite of mine, pulling the listener into the band’s dancefloor astral introspection, bringing to mind Todd Rundgren’s early soft space-funk balladry and Orchestral Manoeouvres in the Dark’s Kraftwerkian outsider anthems. It Transfers & Grows also recalls more contemporary acts The Knife, John Maus (especially synthwave “Electric Lucifer”), frontman Tyler Scurlock’s previous band Sun Hotel, and draws mainstream connections like Passion Pit and recent 80s-inspired soundtracks like that of Stranger Things. A spacecraft’s throb underpins the whole album and squelching drones, pliable leads, and cheerful digital chirping elucidate the clean, multi-dimensional interface through which Scurlock communicates. —Ben Miotke


antigravity-sept2016-reviews_rae-sremmurd_sremmlife-2RAE SREMMURD

Between the release of popular singles “No Flex Zone,” “No Type,” and “Throw Some Mo (featuring Nicki Minaj)” in 2014 and their first studio album, SremmLife, in 2015, brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi are no strangers to putting out high-charged hip-hop. Since then, the two have been touring and working on their latest record, SremmLife 2. Not only does this second release boast multiple singles in the Billboard Top 100, including “Look Alive,” “By Chance,” and “Set The Roof (featuring Lil Jon),” but the Tupelo, Mississippi-born pair are treating listeners to a fresh sound beyond chart-topping bangers. With a few years of experience under their belts, you’ll hear maturation behind many of these tracks. On one of the most experimental of the songs, “Black Beatles,” Swae hits us with the line “Youngbul livin’ like an old geezer,” riding a shadowy, haunting beat. Nevertheless, “Came A Long Way” is feasibly Rae Sremmurd’s heaviest track so far, slamming fans with lyrics like “If you from the bottom, you know how I feel” over a chilling piano arc. Swae and Jxmmi are making their mark by driving an intricate balance between the younger sound we’re accustomed to and new, rawer elements. This album remains youthful and slightly unpolished with tracks like “Do Yoga” and “Shake It Fast,” highlighting the brothers’ sincerity. SremmLife 2 took a longer time to produce than the duo’s

first album, but it’s well worth the wait—this album is texture mixed with pleasure, confidence, and above all: gravity. —Maeve Holler


antigravity-sept2016-reviews_tele-novella_house-of-soulsTELE NOVELLA

I’ve been thinking a lot about Dennis and Brian Wilson. Two sons of a heavy-fisted and impossible-to-please father. One son exploded by his own rapid-fire ideas, the other led by the nose into a seemingly gold and glittery life of vanity and promiscuity—enabled further with the help of one of the most notorious psychopaths (Charles Manson). In the background of this salty sweetness and creeping darkness was “and we’ll have fun, fun, fun, til her daddy takes the t-bird away.” You can almost hear the “away” warping its last note as the underlying shit gets realer. Tele Novella’s latest, House of Souls, is playing in the house next door to the Wilson brothers, heard just under the ear beyond the manicured shrubbery. Dreamy, humid, and teetering, ready to fall or be pushed at any minute. —Kelly McClure


antigravity-sept2016-reviews_michelle-cruz-gonzalez_the-spitboy-rule_tales-of-a-xicana-in-a-female-punk-bandMICHELLE CRUZ GONZALES

The greatest misconception one could draw from Michelle Cruz Gonzales’ The Spitboy Rule is judging her book by its cover—another lackluster band memoir. Band memoirs with starkly contrasted live show photos on the  overs are pumped out as if to say “Hey! Remember us? We were in a band once!” and are usually endearing, coming of age tales peppered with stories of exaggerated debauchery. Spitboy was indeed a band and The Spitboy Rule is definitely a collection of anecdotes highlighting the journey of maturity and self-discovery. What makes these stories about a band from the ‘90s still incredibly relevant today are the candid, yet unflinching accounts of being a Xicana feminist in a scene where racism and sexism permeate throughout, despite projecting itself as an all-inclusive and progressive community. In 1990, four women in the Bay Area founded Spitboy, a hardcore punk band who “hated sexism, not men,” and who were more excited to visit vegan restaurants on the road than party at each tour stop. The author, monikered as Todd Spitboy during her tenure as drummer, is unique to the band in that she is the only member who is not also a white woman. It is through her voice that we learn lessons about intersectionality and the importance of recognizing all individual identities, not just the ones that are easily socially accepted and earn “punk points.” Cruz Gonzales does not short us on lighthearted band memoir narratives that leave us feeling warm and fuzzy, either. The fluidity with which she moves from hard-to-swallow realities of being a Xicana who is continuously whitewashed by her peer group, to sharing her memories of being idolized in Japan for her dedication to the feminist punk scene reiterates that dualities exist in all areas of life. Come for the cool collection of personal band photos that are splayed throughout the middle of the book, stay for the lessons on overlapping social identities. —Holly Mohon

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