antigravity-oct2016-reviews-13-dreams_post-gospel-disco13 DREAMS
New Orleans’ 13 Dreams, Justin Batiste and Jesse Zenon, have debuted with a fantastically lush album. While its title Post Gospel Disco might seem to do the work of classifying itself, the album achieves a cosmic quality by drawing from far more than gospel and disco. As self-described electronic explorers, Zenon’s dense, futurist instrumentation creates a genuine constellation of funk, disco, soul, R&B, indie, house, and prog. Within this constellation, the idea of “post-gospel” is clarified through optimistic, mature, and extroverted feelings and experiences, interpreted by Batiste’s vocals within the galactic synth cascade. Kirby Campbell’s mixing gives the album its dynamics and synth clarity: most tracks, at some point, burst to rave scale and calm to a cerebral tranquility. “The Power of Now” begins with a sample: “You’re not in the universe. You are the universe.” Post Gospel Disco feels like 13 Dreams is inviting us into their universe, to dance and feel. —Ben Miotke

antigravity-oct2016-reviews-af-the-naysayer_armed_wing_battle_unitAF THE NAYSAYER
Within the past few years, New Orleans has developed its own version of LA’s instrumental hip-hop scene, and at the forefront is AF THE NAYSAYER (yes, all caps). With his sophomore EP Armed Wing Battle Uni he reminds everyone why that is. The tracks are named and sequenced like stages in a bullet hell video game, and you can hear the influence of old school game soundtracks throughout, especially on opening track “Armed Wing Battle Unit Opening Theme (Controller One).” The EP evokes the pure joy of playing those games, along with the patience and skill required to master them. On other tracks such as “Hangar 2, Project C-13 (Wave I),” he channels producers like J Dilla and Nujabes at their most soulful. Ending the EP are two remixes, the standout of which is by Tokyo producer peaceFIRE who turns “Briefing Room” into an epic glitched-out dance track. With releases like this, the ever growing beat scene in New Orleans will be hard to ignore. —Brandon Lattimore

antigravity-oct2016-reviews-chance-the-rapper_coloring-bookCHANCE THE RAPPER
“If one more label try to stop me…” boasts the Chicago-based Chance the Rapper—one of the biggest unsigned artists in the rap game—in his track “No Problems.” In his third self-released mixtape, Coloring Book, Chance utilizes every big name feature, effectively working toward a fully realized, cohesive album. Coloring Book isn’t so much a straightforward rap mixtape, but rather a refreshing gospel record. Chance is often compared to Kanye West—a fair assumption, since both rappers are from Chicago. His second mixtape, Acid Rap, did for Chance what College Dropout did for Kanye, and Coloring Book’s themes and conventions certainly seem to be an homage to Kanye’s critically-acclaimed Late Registration. The opening track, “All We Got,” featuring Kanye and the Chicago Children’s Choir, nods to the central message of Late Registration: life is music. The sweetest, possibly most heartfelt track about love lost, “Juke Jam,” features a surprisingly great performance by Justin Bieber. Against all odds, Coloring Book beautifully colors in the struggles of the African American experience with sincerity and positivity. —Alan Singleton

Dowsing and Ratboys’ shared band member, city, and restraint in their respective indie rock crafts make their new split E.P. an especially enjoyable combination. Dowsing initiates with thematic song pairing “Hold” and “Pass.” Comparable to Alkaline Trio and Piebald, these tracks are searingly simple emo/pop-punk that keep the listener tense, swaying and relating with vocalist Erik Czaja’s rasping exhortations. On the B side, Ratboys’ post-country indie rock mastery renders Pinegrove’s acclaim for the same style confusing. Saccharine countryisms and crackling rock hooks fragrantly caramelize into an indie pop integrity that connects to Wilco and the Breeders but stands confidently apart thanks to Julia Steiner’s dulcet vocal performance. As someone without any fondness for country, I found Ratboys’ use of the genre’s endearing tranquility accessible and a confident stride apart from the underground indie rock pack. —Ben Miotke

antigravity-oct2016-reviews-john-papa-gros_rivers-on-edgeJOHN “PAPA” GROS
Longtime New Orleans funk keyboard master John “Papa” Gros has kept the flame alive via many album releases and live shows with his former band, Papa Grows Funk. Three years after the band called it quits, Gros has released a set of music grounded in his old band’s foundations—it can still be heard on songs like “Cocaine And Chicken Fricassee”—but with far more piano and some more contemplative lyrics in the mix. It helps that Gros isn’t working alone (especially on vocals, where local musicians like Susan Cowsill and the Shades Of Praise choir contribute harmonies), and the musical choices he makes work well in “This New Year’s Eve,” “Why’d Ya Do It?” and his latest take on PGF’s “House Of Love.” A big standout is the title track, a comment on the recovery of the Crescent City that rolls like the river it mentions. It sounds like a nod to the musical arrangements and style of the late Allen Toussaint, who co-produced a PGF album and inspired Gros to make his mark beyond funk. If River’s On Fire is any indication, Gros will have no problem etching himself into the groove of local music history. —Leigh Checkman

antigravity-oct2016-reviews-math-the-band-the-band_the-albumMATH THE BAND THE BAND
Over the past 15 years, synth-heavy two-piece punk group Math the Band has released a number of hectic, highenergy albums. The Album, their debut as an expanded six piece group, is no exception. In their new life as Math the Band the Band, drum machines and keyboard lines are swapped out for a full kit and guitar melodies, pushing even further into the realm of upbeat and carefree pop-punk. In particular, songs like “All We Are” and “Not Gonna Fight” bring to mind Bomb the Music Industry! Split roughly in half between new compositions and full band arrangements of older MTB material, The Album is a feel good fest that knocks down all bad vibes in its path. Originally released last October, this 2016 re-issue adds an additional 14 minutes, reworking older MTB material and adding a new version of the cut “Jake Says.” The re-titled “Jaque Sez” showcases the group’s mellower side, notably absent from the rest of the release. On this version, they trade the original’s speedy drums and intense guitar melodies for a slow drum machine beat and an atmospheric combination of keyboard and horn lines, a relaxing closer to an intense album. —William Archambeault

antigravity-oct2016-reviews-nick-cave-and-the-bad-seeds_skeleton-treeNICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS
When Tender Prey came out in 1988, Nick Cave’s growls and Rowland S. Howard’s distortion-as-pain made their capital punishment horror story “The Mercy Seat” a dynamic, almost spiritual experience. Cave and company further explored these ideas regarding death versus the romantic yearning to live on their 2004 masterpiece, Abbatoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus. But the group’s newest record, Skeleton Tree, doesn’t do justice to what Cave and the Seeds have accomplished before: at best, it remains stagnant. Cave’s lyrics on the single “Jesus Alone” substitute cheap “Prufrock”-esque allusions for genuine explications of feeling: ”You cried beneath the dripping trees/Ghost song lodged in the throat of a mermaid.” Great songs about death don’t wallow in their own squalor; they transcend it, just like Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain,” Kanye West’s “Hey Mama,” and Leonard Cohen’s just-released “You Want It Darker.” Starting in 2013 with the disappointing Push the Sky Away, Cave swapped his narrative-based lyrics for a looser, more abstract structure. Unfortunately, now there’s a glaring lack of focus to his work. Even a fun, rollicking track like “Today’s Lesson” from 2008’s Dig. Lazarus, Dig!!! or the cheap-and-trashy cock-rock of “Get It On” from the group’s Grinderman side project hold more aesthetic water than anything on Skeleton Tree. Just listen to Abbatoir Blues opener “Get Ready For Love” instead. Rather than worry about death, you’ll feel glad to be alive. —Joey Laura

Earlier this year, a Mystic Inane cassette shoved me into a fervent reexamination of punk, my earliest musical love. Patsy has me similarly invigorated, and not just because the two bands share a member. So invigorated, in fact, that I took a while to realize that both shoehorn-resistant sides of the cassette are the same. It is really punk and really enjoyable and, for what listeners trudge through in the broad milieu of contemporary punk, this tape is a demonstration of how those two experiences don’t need to be a contradiction. Patsy distinguish themselves with a garage pop energy that recalls Crime’s grim frolic and Debris’ psych aggression and decimates punk veterans’ jadedness with playful instrumental effects. “Insidious Kind,” for instance, thrashes from a rabid anthemic din into a barrelling, scraping, axle grinding, berserk joy ride. This cassette isn’t a long listen but it is a mega dose of glam fury to remedy the chauvinism and conservatism that dominate punk. —Ben Miotke

antigravity-oct2016-reviews-psychic-tv_alienistPSYCHIC TV
My introduction to the music of Psychic TV happened while sitting in a park at night struggling with the vulnerability of being too afraid to do acid. I was in high school and everyone I knew was experimenting with hallucinogens at that time, but I was too afraid. So we’re sitting in the park and everyone is tripping balls but I’m just sitting there smoking cigarettes I stole from my mom and listening to what’s playing from the open door of my friends’ car. It was an earlier Psychic TV album and the lyrics to this one particular song were something like “boys, pools, schools, showers, and swimming.” Those lyrics would repeat while various noises built up in an ominous way. I still don’t know what the name of that song is, or what the album was called. Wait, maybe I was on acid. Anyway, this short new release from Psychic TV has four songs and only two of them are original. “I’m Looking For You” comes in at just under 12 minutes and is a terrifying back and forth between front person Genesis P-Orridge and Lucifer. The non-original tracks include a cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” and “How Does it Feel to Feel” by The Creation. Play this at your next Thelema meeting, or the next time you’re in some grass afraid to be on drugs because life is already weird enough. —Kelly McClure

antigravity-oct2016-reviews-the-reptilian_end_pathsTHE REPTILIAN
Kalamazoo act The Reptilian offers End Paths, an album that upholds the integrity of emotional post-hardcore and its misunderstood sub-genre, screamo. Progressing from roots in Michigan label Count Your Lucky Stars and musical ancestors such as Envy and Slint, The Reptilian sits among contemporary acts like Loma Prieta and Battles without being derivative of them. That said, it won’t challenge every prejudice against math rock or screamo, and tracks like “Arm’s Length” will seem characteristically indulgent and unfriendly. To appreciators and new explorers of that sound, End Paths is an emotional, articulate, and—for its grace and rage—swanlike anthem. I like it best as a whole-album experience, keeping me engaged through strategic lulls, chaotic changes, and frequent impressive moments like “Fold and Follow” at the middle. As someone who was very absorbed by the emo revival a few years ago, I found the scream fringes trite, compared with icons like Orchid and Pg. 99, as well as the more progressive T.W.I.A.B.P. In contrast, End Paths is affectively exciting punk, and certainly one of Community Records’ most recommendable releases this year, especially for fans of locals Donovan Wolfington and Caddywhompus. —Ben Miotke

It’s no surprise to anyone who has been listening to Spanish hardcore punk over the last ten years that the Barcelona punk scene, located within the fiercely autonomous Mediterranean-bordering region of Catalonia, ranks as one of the leading hotbeds of creativity and progression in today’s worldwide punk community. Punk bands from Barcelona are extremely clever in hybridizing existing strains of punk subgenres and, in the process, metamorphosing to create a refreshing musical output embodying urgency, tenacity, and rich distinction. Ultra, a new project featuring members from other noteworthy Barcelona groups such as Absurdo and Anarquía Vertical, unleashes its first 7” record via the always trustworthy UK label La Vida Es Un Mus. Ultra delivers high-octane Poison Idea-influenced hardcore, interspersed with mid-tempo, stomping grit and brief, yet pensive drumroll buildups. Screaming one’s lungs out in Spanish or specifically Catalan for the Catalonian separatists seeking liberation from the grips of centralist Madrid—always projects a fly-off-the-handle allure. This is but one feature that has continuously blessed Spanish hardcore, stretching back four decades. —Dan McCoy

antigravity-oct2016-reviews-crescent-city-carnage-vol1VARIOUS ARTISTS
It’s been a long time since someone decided to put out a vinyl LP compilation showcasing the current New Orleans music scene. There are a handful of different LPs from the ‘80s I can think of that represented that part of history: the NO Experience Necessary LP (put out by Oblique Records) and Vinyl Solution’s No Questions, No Answers (both from 1980). The ‘90s and ‘00s featured several comps, but all on CD format. C Rage has compiled 10 local bands onto a killer vinyl compilation, starting with the brutal Ossacrux, followed by A Hanging, Short Leash, Fat Stupid Ugly People (F.S.U.P.), I Ain’t (a.k.a. Something’s Burning), and closing out side one with Eat the Witch. Side two allows you to wrap your head around Sunrise:Sunset, Solid Giant and Glut. But the real gem (for me anyway) is the 16 medley pulled off by Gristnam: you can die happily if you had the chance to see them perform it live. I like how there’s a mixture of different styles between bands (metal, sludge, hardcore) but also the fact that some bands contain younger musicians while others are filled with scene veterans, and it all seems to gel together perfectly. Not to mention all the work done by local artists and photographers on the insert and overall packaging. Hopefully everyone (not just locals) will realize what an important artifact this will become in writing the history of independent music in New Orleans. There are so many other awesome local bands that will hopefully be included on future volumes. I’m looking forward to seeing what C Rage puts out next. —Carl Elvers

“Japanese Action Comic Punk” band Peelander-Z is one of the strangest bands I’ve ever seen live. Their shows combine colorful costumes, upbeat tunes about things like tacos, and theatrics like human bowling. Whenever questioned about their personal lives, the members hide behind fictitious stories about traveling to Earth from Planet Peelander. The documentary Mad Tiger provides a rare glimpse into the people and personalities behind these costumes. The film specifically focuses on band leader Yellow’s struggle to move forward as co-founder Red leaves the group to settle down. As the group transitions, the directors paint Yellow as an artist trying to find himself and come to terms with Red’s departure. It’s not necessary to be familiar with the group’s music to enjoy the film—it speaks to larger truths about life. Mad Tiger is a rare breed of music documentary that doesn’t just revolve around the music. It serves as both a solid introduction to the band and an exploration of the characters behind the costumes. Fans new and old will also be excited to find that the DVD features a concert film of Red’s last performance with the band. —William Archambeault

Verified by MonsterInsights