Local group BRAT fuses Hardcore (the type that emphasizes that capital H), death metal, and thrash metal for some serious tough guy music. On single “Chain Pain,” vocalist Liz Selfish sounds like she is going to smash a chair over someone’s head ​​à la WWE. The band’s debut EP, Mean Is What We Aim For, lasts a short but furious eight minutes, never giving the listener a chance to come down from the adrenaline rush caused by these four jagged tunes. Half of this band also plays in local goth group Missing. If Missing makes music for the kids who get shoved into lockers, BRAT feels decidedly like music to soundtrack the shoving. The title track closes this EP with a slow breakdown tailor-made for intense pit action. A small but mighty contingent of youths made their passion for these gnarly sounds known in the pit at BRAT’s first show at Creepy Fest last month (see pg. 26). At one point, a kid was even doing full backflips in the pit, only narrowly avoiding skinning his face on the Parisite pavement. Whatever BRAT is doing is clearly resonating. —William Archambeault


Disco music has always been political, originating from the intersection of Black, Latinx, and queer culture which helped create safe space and art for people regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or class. Musician, community organizer, and self-described “disabled disco innovator” Cola Boyy (Matthew Urango) understands this well, taking inspiration from disco and funk to create music that is as joyous as it is radical. Prosthetic Boombox, his long-awaited debut full-length, is both a celebration and a call to action. The album opens with “Don’t Forget Your Neighborhood” (featuring frequent collaborators The Avalanches), a warm and dancey homage to collective power. Other notable tracks include the psychedelic “Kid Born in Space” and “Mailbox” (which has major Prince vibes). Funky bass lines, dreamy synths, and effortless melodies form the backbone of these songs, which show that it is possible for music to be socially conscious and sexy (from “You Can Do It”: “It’s alright if you move / Crack the walls with outrage and love”). Though at times the songs veer into camp territory, this seems intentional, adding a sense of playfulness and driving home the point that radical action cannot be sustained without radical joy. —Mary Beth Campbell


Local label Superjock Records has teamed up with some heavy hitters out of Los Angeles for a fun tribute to New Orleans on this 7”. On “All Night,” rapper Bootie Brown of the infamous Pharcyde name drops everything from Buddy Bolden to Kanye West’s post-Katrina comments about Bush. Brown’s tales of drunken debauchery and lust show that the established emcee still has plenty of tales to tell. Connie Price & The Keystones, which features members of Ozomatli and Hepcat, soundtrack Brown’s storytelling with some heavy Meters-inspired grooves. Meanwhile, Professor ShorthairBen Epstein of Superjock and local shop NOLA Mix Records—spins a sample of original Galactic singer Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet calling out New Orleans as the “home of the hits.” Epstein’s Professor Shorthair remix on the b-side takes the retro funk and propels it even further into Meters territory by clearly paying homage to the classic percussion of “Hand Clapping Song.” Superjock’s past releases range from early albums by local Afrobeat orchestra Kumasi to multiple 7”s of New Orleans-centric breakbeats, but this new collaboration shows that the label is resonating with an audience far outside the city’s borders. —William Archambeault


Anyone with even a passing knowledge of New Orleans’ indie music scene in the last decade knows the name Walt McClements. The former leader of Why Are We Building Such A Big Ship? also played a prominent role in Dark Dark Dark and Hurray for the Riff Raff. He’s been working under the moniker Lonesome Leash since moving to Los Angeles in 2014. A Hole in the Fence, however, is released under his own name, and fittingly so. Despite the album being entirely instrumental, it very much plays like an intimate soundtrack to McClements’ life. He’s quoted as saying that he sees the album as “a fragmented narrative connecting threads of the somewhat hidden worlds I’ve travelled through in my life, from underground music and punk communities to train hopping and gay cruising grounds.” From start to finish, the record is deeply atmospheric and euphoric. Using primarily his accordion, McClements creates lush layers of sound that completely envelop and transport the listener. Opener “Beginning (still as ships)” launches the proceedings on an orchestral note. It’s followed by “Thresholds (through a hole in the fence)” which begins and ends with a chippy clip that feels rather reminiscent of a train rolling down a track, hitting its stride in a gorgeously whimsical fashion. “Naked (a showing of scars)” brings in a more minor key, but its rhythmic and deliberate arrangement communicates a vulnerable kind of sweetness. “Climb (two times past same point in six hours)” is an epic swell that wouldn’t be out of place scoring the pivotal scene of an award-winning piece of cinema. After that ascent comes the droning and intense “Reckon (holding burning beams)” which builds in intensity before reaching an almost uncomfortable apex, then dissolving into ethereal mist. The closing track, “Rinse (repeat repeat)” feels like an appropriate farewell. It’s a wry smile and a nod from this masterful multi-instrumentalist who has just taken us on a breathtaking 45-minute journey through dark trainyards, abandoned carnivals, and temples of both stone and flesh. —Erin Hall


o’summer vacation pack Wicked Heart to the brim with 19 minutes of scatterbrained chaos. The divebomb tempo changes, jagged tones, and vocalist Ami’s crazed shouting on opener “扁桃腺のモニーク” perfectly set up this collection of artsy experimental rock songs. This band sculpts a massive sound despite the trio’s fairly simple configuration of vocals, bass, and drums. By utilizing a looper and a massive array of other pedals, founding bassist mikiiii transforms his four strings into a bewildering array of sounds on songs like “steeeel.” Drummer Manu’s angular playing clashes against the bass to create a constant feeling of tension throughout the album. These songs segue right into each other like an unstoppable steamroller plowing through the listener’s skull. The delightfully short 29-second rager “pandemic?” might seem like a reaction to the past year and a half, but these recordings actually pre-date COVID-19’s nonstop world tour. Hopefully, these Japanese rockers will be able to journey to the United States at some point in the near future. The up-and-coming band would feel right at home on a bill with noisy deviants like Lightning Bolt and Melt-Banana, who have already dedicated their lives to destroying eardrums near and far. —William Archambeault


As is their custom, the elusive U.K. music collective SAULT released their latest album, NINE, seemingly out of thin air. A direct follow-up to 2020’s UNTITLED (Black Is) and UNTITLED (Rise), NINE is also centered on issues of racial injustice, with a particular focus on the tragic cycles caused by systemic oppression. The songs on NINE are steeped in Afrobeat, blues, soul, and funk. The album opens with the deceptively simple “Haha,” which is reminiscent of a playground chant (“How about, ha-ha-ha-ha / How about the love”). On “Bitter Streets,” SAULT core member Cleo Sol laments “I used to dream / About the things I want to be / The life beneath now / How can I smile,” her voice offering a lilt of humor despite the heaviness of the lyrics. This wry sense of humor, and the brief release from grief that it offers, is woven throughout the album—after all, sometimes all we can do to cope with tragedy is laugh. Unlike the previous albums, NINE will only be out in the world until October 2nd (a total of 99 days). This album is a social and musical triumph—the story it tells deserves to be heard and shared while it is still freely accessible. —Mary Beth Campbell

BODY OF WORK (1990-1995)

Spitboy was pointedly not a riot grrrl band, announcing such at a show in Washington, DC in 1992. They hated sexism, but they didn’t need men at the back of their shows. Their complete discography, Body of Work (1990-1995), rotates through their thematic wheelhouse: misogyny, selling out, abuse, and oppressive power structures. On “In Tradition” the bassline compels listeners forward unwittingly, while they sing “I find that I have damned public rules / On how to be a woman / You find that there aren’t advice / On how to be a man.” Their song “Ultimate Violations” begins with multiple soundbites of people discussing sexual assault, of boundaries crossed, followed by their steadfast wrath. The most tantalizing song in the discography is “Fences”; the guitar leaves high-pitched breadcrumbs throughout, luring the listener to an eruption of what sounds like separate but compatible solos, each holding the fort in their respective corners. In her book, The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band, drummer Michelle Cruz Gonzales highlights the behind-the-scenes workings of the female punk band, where their identities were sometimes at odds with each other and with the scene, and where board games and early nights were the usual wind-down of choice. Their discography and Gonzales’ memoir traverse a specific time in a specific scene, but the rage within is not outdated. —Marisa Clogher


Louie Zong takes his favorite Pokémon out to catch some waves on this fun six-song EP. He reimagines music from the iconic franchise as instrumental surf rock tunes. Surfin’ GBA covers quite a bit of turf within the surf genre, ranging from rambunctious opener “wild pokemon!” to laidback closer “littleroot, my home.” “lavender town” stands out as one of the release’s most impressive reinterpretations. Zong somehow manages to transform the deeply unsettling feeling of the original version into an actual bop. The piece still feels spooky, but it’s far more danceable than it is outright scary. Zong, a former New Orleanian, has been prolific as both a musician and an artist. His Bandcamp features an extensive discography of free self-recorded releases, each sporting covers with his signature art style that has been a part of projects for the likes of Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. Since coming across this EP, I’ve found myself spending quite a bit of time going back down this seemingly endless rabbit hole. His diverse musical output in the past year alone has ranged from songs made entirely out of video game sound effects on sfx songs to an attempt at channeling Preservation Hall Jazz Band on pigeon! —William Archambeault


In 1969 the United States stood on the precipice of political and social upheaval. The Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War polarized the country. There was a collective sense of grief as the culmination of the 1960s was marked by the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, John Kennedy, and Malcolm X. This harsh canvas became the backdrop of a musical and cultural revolution. In August of 1969, a music festival known as Woodstock was etched into history as the poster child of white American counterculture. That same year, between June 29 and August 24, over a series of six weekends, an estimated 300,000 people gathered in Mount Morris Park (now known as Marcus Garvey Park) to attend the Harlem Cultural Festival in Harlem, New York. The festival was a celebration of African American heritage, with families, children, and elders in attendance—a significant piece of American musical history that was seemingly made to remain invisible. B.B. King, Mahalia Jackson, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, and Sly and the Family Stone were among the legendary lineup. Producer Hal Tulchin recorded the full concert series and tried for decades to sell the footage with hopes of landing a distribution deal, billing it as “The Black Woodstock.” He was repeatedly turned down. Throughout the documentary, two men in their late 60s who attended the festival as children are interviewed. Near the end of the film, one of the men cries, saying after the festival ended, no one ever talked about it and when he attempted to share the experience with others, folks thought he was making up a wild story. Summer of Soul is a rediscovered treasure that’s primed to fulfill any music or history buff’s wildest dream. —Jamilla Webb


“I’m pretty confident saying that I grew up with a lot of odds against me. I was short, dark skinned, no hips, no big booty, fat… but I still had people around me who made me feel beautiful,” says the native daughter of New Orleans, Tarriona “Tank” Ball in her poem “Tank’s Story Time, Playing Hard to Get.” Although she viewed her odds as unfavorable, her accolades show otherwise. She is an award-winning slam poet, lead singer of the Grammy-nominated band Tank and the Bangas, and most recently an author of her debut book of poetry. Vulnerable AF intimately chronicles her life-altering, heartbreaking relationship with a former beau. She dedicates the book to “the boy with the deepest mud puddles I have ever stepped in.” The composition reads like a song from cover to cover, with verses, refrains, and breaks sandwiched in between an introductory curiosity and the submissive defeat that envelops memories of unrequited love. Scattered throughout the pages are captivating illustrations by visual artist Shonté Young-Williams which, when viewed meticulously, reveal symbolism and metaphors as layered as Tank’s words. The beauty she (and her ex) could not see is evident from afar—even more so because of the vulnerable nature of what she shares. —Jamilla Webb


Breaking the Spell is a deeply researched and thoroughly footnoted exploration of how various groups from the North American left have used video to tell their stories since the 1960s. Robé discusses early experiments by idealistic groups like the Videofreex in the ’70s, films made by ACT UP and other AIDS activists in the ’80s and ’90s, work from the Indigenous youth video collective Outta Your Backpack Media in the 2000s, amid vast numbers of other projects. He mostly doesn’t shy away from exploring the limitations that held many back, issues that grow unfortunately familiar as he moves through the decades: privileged, often white male, leadership alienating contributors; new technologies—from videotape to the internet—failing to live up to utopian dreams; and the simple lack of resources. Robé, who teaches at Florida Atlantic University, writes in an unfortunately dry and academic style, punctuated by bursts of clumsily strident radicalism. Quotes from theorists from Arrighi to Žižek often feel bolted on, as do periodic analyses of the extent to which various groups—including many not self-identifying as anarchist—show anarchist tendencies. Still, the book is worth a read for its comprehensive catalog of video projects and how they went right and wrong. —Steven Melendez


ISOLATION / CONNECTION is a claustrophobic exhibit—not just because of its content, but also due to its location in the corridor-like atrium gallery on the first floor of the Contemporary Arts Center. This show, curated by high school students, showcases work by local teenagers who use an impressive range of media to explore their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic (pictured: Israeli Johnson, “18”). The feelings expressed in this show will likely be familiar to most viewers—loneliness, fear, grief, a sense of being trapped, the fatigue of excessive screen time. Every year is formative when a person is young; and while all of our lives were thrown into chaos last year, it was children—particularly teenagers—who were struck by these changes most forcefully. These young artists have channeled this chaos into sensitive, evocative work that strongly brings to mind the oppressive sensations of the pandemic shutdowns. It is a disorienting experience to be so closely surrounded by these works now, as we begin, hesitantly, to return to our in-person lives. The virus is surging again in Louisiana, threatening to cast us back to the life depicted in these images, and this precarious reality underscores the anxiety that permeates this thoughtful show. (On display through September 26) —Harriet Burbeck


Resuscitation is an exhibition tucked away in a lofty display area located on the second floor of the New Orleans Healing Center. It showcases art from local, national, and international artists. The theme pays homage to healing and the reemergence of community after a year of isolation and uncertainty due to COVID-19. Upon entering the Second Story Gallery hallway, colorful expressionist paintings depicting nature and graphite sketches reminiscent of heirloom family photos line the walls. Beyond the threshold that divides the gallery into two separate corridors, mixed media of lace fabrics, metal, and eloquently stained textured paper draws viewers toward the right side of the room. Moving counterclockwise, a meticulously woven rug of rich wool fiber forms a lovely portrait. Fantasy melds into reality as themes of the art become reflective of current times. A cascade of three painted photographs represents the sun before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Viewers are given a moment of ease upon viewing a photographic altar of women in the woods, draped in white, touching each other’s hands within a vortex that centers a river. A bright blue memorial dedicated to George Floyd is one of the heaviest pieces in the exhibit. In the photo, his image rests atop a collage of nearly 25 other African Americans who were victims of police violence. Next to Floyd is a beautiful 60”x72” map of the Milan neighborhood. Created by a local architect, the map is accompanied by a key that tells a story of French conquests, streets formerly named after Greek gods, demolished structures, and modern homes. Resuscitation ends with a dancer finding her path in City Park and an unsuspecting subject in a cocoon made of tulle awaiting her rebirth. (On display through September 4) —Jamilla Webb