Mesopeak is the solo project of New Orleans’ Robert A.E. Landry, who handles drumming duties with several local acts, BAD OPERATION and The Self-Help Tapes among them. On his first release under the Mesopeak moniker, Landry presents a set of songs he has written and refined over five years, playing all of the instruments himself. The finished product has a coherent sound built around cascades of open-tuned guitar chords and multi-tracked vocals. The repetition of clean guitar lines achieves a trance-like quality, which often functions as the song’s hook in lieu of a traditional chorus. The vocals are chiefly recorded in a breathy delivery reminiscent of the shoegaze-y end of the alternative spectrum, with lyrics projecting an introspective focus on the past and the sadness, doubt, and anger that can arise from such explorations. The most effective moments come when the songs break out of their established motifs to deliver bursts of emotion, such as the distorted riffs bookending the brooding verses of “Habits” or the screamed vocals punctuating several of the songs, providing much-needed catharsis (“Hospital Room,” “Shame”). Perhaps the best distillation of the album’s strengths comes with “The Over-Under,” which pairs a series of earworm guitar lines with vocals that grow in intensity as the noise around them swells. —Will Hibert


If Liz Phair is a victim of her success—her 1993 debut Exile in Guyville the yardstick against which every subsequent effort has been measured—it doesn’t help that, like cult artists from Lou Reed to Alex Chilton, she sometimes indulges her worst tendencies, resorting to shallow provocation. But if one might have questioned her instincts after a couple albums underperformed critically and commercially, her moment seems to have come around again. This collection of mature, self-aware songs is a worthy successor to her ‘90s heyday that doesn’t try to recapture past glory, but rather shows an artist who has evolved on her own terms. From “I don’t have the guts to tell you / that I feel safe” (“Ba Ba Ba”) to the title track’s “I did a shot ‘cause I’m terrified,” she sounds as unforced and vulnerable as she ever has. Even the provocations—a gratuitous shot at Reed, “Hey Lou,” and the obvious sex joke “Bad Kitty”—are smarter than they seem. If the former is uncalled for, the latter makes it clear that Phair’s bitterness is earned: “I don’t live in a world that appreciates me / You could say that I’m ahead of my time.” —Tom Andes


On the spectrum alongside People Museum and Primpce, both of  whom they’ve shared a stage with, TV Pole Shine blends pop with elements of New Orleans jazz and funk, adding to a sub-genre of indie pop that is wholly unique to the New Orleans scene. Describing their sound as “Spasm Rock,” the 12-piece’s music is meant to be experienced live, as they incorporate theatrical choreography and audience participation into their shows. To Screw in a Lightbulb, their debut full-length, manages to capture this theatricality with short, vaudevillian interludes. Guitar-driven rock collides with the bombast of a brass band, generating a sound that propels you to move. The songs run the gamut of experience and emotion, though there is a playful humor and obvious love of life running throughout the entire album. The central mission of the band seems to be best expressed in “Ego Death – Part 1,” whose message we should all probably heed: “Let’s move for the next / Send me there / Let’s move for the people and the places that we’ll be.” —Mary Beth Campbell


UT/EX’s debut EP is three songs’ worth of emotionally-charged catharsis. Growled vocals express dismay over jagged guitar and pounding drums on opener “Genuflect.” Short, melodic interludes add refreshing space to this collection of aggressive downers. This tiny slice of skramz revival will be much welcomed by those still clinging to their old Pg. 99 and City of Caterpillar records. Two decades after those bands’ peaks, people are still getting together to make loud music to bum out to. In typical New Orleans fashion, there aren’t many strangers in this band if you actively follow the local underground scene. Members of UT/EX currently play in Romasa, Space Cadaver, and Torture Garden, in addition to other groups. Coral Mercy, perhaps best known for her output as a noise artist, makes her debut as a gnarly vocalist on these recordings. She closes this EP by alternating between spoken word and end-of-the-rope screams on “Sappho.” —William Archambeault


Scottish indie rock band We Were Promised Jetpacks’ fifth studio album Enjoy the View provides a soundtrack to the liminal space of uncertainty and apprehension that has dominated the world for the past year and a half. The album’s lead single “If It Happens,” with its familiar landscape of driven bass lines and ambient synth, echoes the sentiment of coming to peace with relinquishing control and embracing the unknown: “If it happens, then it happens / If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t / And I’m not going to lose any sleep about it.” The second lead single “Fat Chance,” released June 29, reveals a shift in musical direction for the group, presenting a hopeful, almost defiant anthem of persevering despite the odds. The fresh sound features tight percussion and interwoven guitar melodies, providing a bright backdrop for lead singer Adam Thompson’s pensive lyrics. Overall, Enjoy the View presents itself as a vulnerable reflection on a precarious existence in which nothing is certain. In the words of Thompson, “Just don’t think about it.” —Victoria Conway


Yves Tumor’s music plays with genre, each of their albums rooted in a specific sound that then morphs into something wild and raw. On their surprise EP, The Asymptotical World, Yves Tumor delves into goth, new wave, and shoegaze—genres which work well with their penchant for metamorphosis. An understated rhythm section and wailing guitars complement dramatic vocals, creating song structures that start out familiar before twisting into a new, slightly sinister form. Each song is based around a different type of tumult and desire. It would be easy for them to become overwrought, but Yves Tumor weaves a wry sense of self-awareness into each song, preventing them from being bogged down by their own seriousness. The album opens with “Jackie,” an explosive lament of tortured love that is reminiscent of early My Bloody Valentine. Other notable tracks are the deliciously goth “Crushed Velvet” and the unnerving darkwave of “…And Loyalty Is A Nuisance Child.” Like the mathematical concept it is named after, The Asymptotical World takes the listener on a trip to a darker desire and a new, inner version of reality—one which we are always close to grasping but can never quite reach. —Mary Beth Campbell


Jazz Is Dead 008 is the latest in a series of collaborations featuring noted producers Ali Shaheed Muhammad (A Tribe Called Quest) and Adrian Younge (Kendrick Lamar). Joining them on this session is keyboardist and flutist Brian Jackson, best known as Gil Scott-Heron’s primary collaborator throughout the 1970s. Together, Jackson and Scott-Heron helped pave the way for rap and hip-hop. Scott-Heron’s distinct vocal delivery served as an inspiration to many rappers, but the duo’s music arguably had a bigger influence as the source of countless samples. Decades later, Jackson’s keys interface seamlessly with Shaheed Muhammad and Younge’s performances on various instruments on tracks like “Mars Walk.” “Nancy Wilson” and “Ethiopian Sunshower,” two of this album’s highlights, both feature Jackson picking up his flute for ethereal melodies that call to something higher. Ultimately, this instrumental album serves as a great testament to Jackson’s skills as a collaborator. While his name may appear prominently on the cover, Jackson never tries to force his way into the spotlight. Instead, he takes a step back and works with Shaheed Muhammad and Younge to sculpt beautiful sounds together. —William Archambeault


What does it mean to be honorable? This is the main question posed by The Green Knight, the latest release from A24 and director David Lowery. But as audiences inhale the heady fumes of the potion that is Lowery’s retelling of the Arthurian legend, they’ll find themselves transported to a magnificent fever dream where they may be left with more questions than answers. Based on the 14th-century chivalric romance, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), who unwittingly finds himself playing a deadly game with a formidable adversary: the half-man, half-tree creature of the film’s title. Out to prove his honor and earn his place at King Arthur’s Round Table, Gaiwan embarks on a journey that will test his chivalry and fortitude. Don’t be misled by the weaponry: this is no hack-and-slash action film. Sparse dialogue allows the lush landscapes and other-worldly atmosphere to take center stage. The world around Gawain is as much a character in the film as any, and Patel’s wide-eyed, earnest portrayal of a knight who wishes to be pure of heart places us right there with him as he enters and exits from one strange stanza to the next. Lyrical and surreal with a hint of heavy metal, The Green Knight feels more like a gem of a film you’d find on VHS in an old rental store’s basement than a current release. Lowery’s commitment to honoring the open-ended nature of the film’s source material coupled with the slower pacing may put off some viewers. But for those who are willing to embark on an emotional journey and draw their own conclusions, they’re sure to carry the luster of this film with them for days while learning its one inevitable truth: the Green Knight comes for us all. —Caroline Morris


This collection of short writings pays tribute to the countless women within punk who have sweated it out on stages and created something that inspired others. Some rose to become undeniable influences in the genre, ranging from Siouxsie and the Banshees packing dancefloors and Bikini Kill charging the riot grrrl movement, to Against Me! propelling trans women further into the mainstream. In addition to honoring big names, Punk Women acknowledges many smaller forces that have paved the way for others across the decades. In one section, Osa Atoe, musician and author of the iconic Shotgun Seamstress zine (and former ANTIGRAVITY contributor), emphasizes punk’s role as a force for positive change within communities. This book forgoes any real sense of grouping, hopping from subject to subject across various time periods, styles, and geographies for a somewhat chaotic zine feel. Author David Ensminger sometimes includes dates for bands and subjects but oftentimes does not. This decision occasionally makes it difficult to contextualize these women’s output, but it also speaks to the timelessness of their contributions, whether they are gray-haired veterans best known from the 1970s or young up-and-comers. —William Archambeault


The Red Deal caps off the several years of resistance movements led by Indigenous people across the U.S. and Canada. In this manifesto, Indigenous resistance movements and the ruling class’ responses to them (the massive police confrontation at the 2016 Standing Rock protests, the whiplash of anti-protest laws in the aftermath) reveal how energy extraction is “deeply entrenched within class society” and sustained by U.S. imperialism, mass incarceration, and austerity. For the authors—the Indigenous revolutionary activists known as the Red Nation—Indigenous-led struggles are genuine examples of the ways movements can resist the global climate crisis and build a new future for everyone. As an explicitly revolutionary socialist counterpoint to the Green New Deal (GND), The Red Deal draws on Indigenous resistance for socialist environmental politics, noting that “we find that much of what gets framed through an environmental lens… often misses the point about capitalism (and, sometimes, Indigenous sovereignty, too).” And it is this case that The Red Deal makes stunningly clear: that the fulfillment of the GND doesn’t lie in reforms, but in the struggle against capitalism “from below and to the left.” The Red Deal calls readers to step into the “strong current of history that is the tradition of Indigenous resistance,” at once flipping on its head the presumption that Indigneous people and their struggles are outside of history. Indigenous movements are the models for preserving the planet and the seeds for future forms of development and sovereignty. —Lee M. Abbott


Maurice Carlos Ruffin could’ve rested on his laurels after writing his debut novel, We Cast a Shadow, that was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. But in his new short story collection, The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You, he shows vignettes of Black life in New Orleans without relying on cliché imagery of swamps and Mardi Gras. The characters in this collection are trying to survive and thrive under desperate conditions, like in the storyGhetto University,” where a fired college professor resorts to sticking up tourists in the French Quarter to make a living: “Dell doesn’t know what I’ve been doing. I spent the first week of disenfranchisement inquiring at other local institutions of higher learning, even the vocational schools. Yet, as you can imagine, a city with a 30 percent illiteracy rate isn’t exactly aching to employ a professor of English who specializes in the verse of Alexander Pushkin.” Or “Before I Let Go,” where a woman wants to save enough money to keep her house from being auctioned off by the city after a slew of gentrifiers start to move into the neighborhood. Each story gives us a panoramic view of the city through the eyes of a different character, which in turn makes us see that the city is as complex as the people within it. All of the stories run between two and 43 pages, and the variety creates a smooth pacing that effortlessly moves readers through the book. If you like stories of resilience and hope in the face of life’s troubles, then you’ll love The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You.—Danny Cherry, Jr.


Black Beauty is an exhibition of nearly two dozen pieces curated by Tim Francis. The exhibit’s name is an ode to the song “Black Beauty” by legendary jazz pianist Duke Ellington. Upon entering the exhibit, viewers are engulfed by an ethereal atmosphere of wide open space and white walls draped in magnetic colors and images. Frederick J. Brown’s “untitled” displays a humanesque figure in bold oil colors on paper and serves as the icebreaker. A standout piece is Lezley Saar’s homage to the author and groundbreaking book, “Nella Larsen… Passing.” The 84” x 55” acrylic on velour depicts a fair-skinned, racially ambiguous woman partially hidden beneath an elegantly embroidered sheer muslin curtain. Renowned artist Fahamu Pecou accents the beauty of dark brown-skinned twins on golden canvases in the adjoined pieces “IBEJI TAIWO & IBEJI KEHINDE,” Ibeji being the Yoruba term for twins. “Even If Your Voice Shakes,” by New Orleans’ own Brandan “B-Mike” Odums is a 96” x 120” portrait surrounded by a 3D collage of books, pillows, and vinyl records adorned with historical African American figures. The anchor and closing piece of the exhibit is a colorful short film “Black Magic” by Rashaad Newsome. Just shy of 24 minutes, the film is a salute to Black LGBTQIA existence, beauty, and ballroom culture. Black Beauty is visually stunning and bursting at the seams with substantive references to global Black culture, writers, musicians, activists, and dance. (On display through September 18) —Jamilla Webb