Boris channeled the earliest uncertain days of the pandemic into a nasty collection of metallic hardcore crushers for their 2020 album NO. In late August, Third Man Records finally put out a long overdue U.S. pressing of that decibel-destroying album. A week later, the Japanese band followed it up with this live version of the release, recorded in late 2020 before they could play in front of real audiences again. No World Tour captures the cathartic release of one of the world’s loudest bands finally getting to turn their amps all the way up again. The album versions showcase Boris as meticulous studio veterans, world renowned for their ability to generate gnarly tones. In contrast, the live versions showcase an energy that is impossible to document with stiff session work. For instance, a particularly passionate live cover of ’80s Japanese punk legends Gudon‘s “Fundamental Error” shows that, even after three decades, Boris can still be giddy kids enthusiastic to channel their idols. A lengthier version of “HxCxHxC -Perforation Line-” also provides the band the chance to generate some rough noise, a reminder that these songs are chiefly a means of processing some of the most difficult times of their lives. Whether you listen to the live or studio versions of these songs, make sure to crank it up to max volume for the proper Boris experience. —William Archambeault


New Orleans pop duo The Convenience (Nick Corson and Duncan Troast) have dug deep into the canon of classic funk and R&B to create Accelerator, their debut full-length. The result is a very fun collection of songs that, while modern, would fit just as seamlessly into the scenes that inspired them. There are moments on the record that feel as if Prince could have been in the studio alongside Corson and Troast. The album’s first single, “Kiss Me in Heaven,” is an upbeat track with slight dream pop vibes (“I never learned about St. Peter in school / But for tonight let’s just pretend / I’m never ever gonna stage no revolution on you / I’m never ever gonna lose myself again”), while “Fake Roses” deviates slightly from the rest of the album with its darker, repetitive synths and pulsing four-on-the-floor beat. Other notable tracks include the extremely funky “Saturday’s Child” and “Accelerator (Pts I + II).” Accelerator in its entirety is due to be released October 22nd. —Mary Beth Campbell


Many writers consider the rightful place for any material written during their younger, more vulnerable years to be a bottom drawer—safe from prying eyes. But Fiction, Laura Fisher’s new 7’’ release, showcases the artistic merit of retracing your steps. Both songs presented on this vinyl album were written over 15 years ago—a time-capsule from a young love affair—and cover the well-trodden ground of unrequited love and romantic fantasy. “Stick around for long enough / Maybe I’ll become somebody you want to love,” Fisher sings in “Fiction,” where wistful vocals and dreamy reverberations contrast with the song’s biting rhythm, combining nostalgia with a healthy dose of perspective. The second track, “La Belle Indifference,” is a variation on the same themes, albeit with an added eeriness. A rolling piano part recalls Fisher’s previous album, APOPHENIA, as does the lyrical meditation on the relationship between madness and intuition. But its chilling idiosyncrasies represent something of a departure from previous work. In both songs, Fisher puts a previous version of herself in conversation with the musician she is now, and the result is an angsty, highly enjoyable set of songs that are sure to satisfy the inner lovesick teen within all of us. —Holly Devon


Gift of Gab’s passing in June shook the hip-hop world. As half of Blackalicious, alongside producer Chief Xcel, the emcee developed a reputation as one of the fastest tongue-twisting lyricists to ever pick up the mic. Now, we get the chance to hear what may be Gab’s final offering. On “Alchemy,” Gab documents his dedication to mastering his craft despite years of kidney problems weighing him down. “If life throws you lemons, make lemonade. If I stumble on stage, I innovate,” he raps with the confidence of a man who refused to let his deteriorating health stop him from furthering himself as an emcee. While Gab spits with plenty of venom on tracks like “Vice Grip” and “Slaughtah Dem (Godly),” he feels far more in his zone when commenting on larger issues on tracks like “The World Without Money” and “The Idea Of America.” On “The Gentrification Song (Remix),” Gab details navigating once-familiar neighborhoods that have changed profusely from what he grew up with. Lines like “The city lost its soul and gained a lot of hipsters / But does this really make it better or a little weirder?” could easily be about New Orleans, a cogent reminder of the universal subjects in Gab’s work. —William Archambeault


When Low first entered the music scene 28 years ago, they were “slowcore;” languid and soft, driven by harmonies and pensive thoughts. As the world has changed, though, so too has Low’s sound. There is nothing soft about “White Horses,” the opening track on Low’s spectacular new full-length album HEY WHAT. Discordant guitars and electronic noise settle into an urgent rhythm, amplifying the song’s message on the innate cruelty of love and setting the tone for the entire album. Each song on HEY WHAT is its own beautiful, chaotic swirl of emotion, instruments, and harmonies, bound together by musings on the joy and tragedy of existence. On the hymn-like “Days Like These,” distortions of both vocals and instruments represent this duality of darkness and light and our internal struggle to find meaning within it (“No you’re never gonna feel complete / No, you’re never gonna be released”). The album ends with “The Price You Pay (It Must Be Wearing Off),” which teases a catharsis that is never actually delivered. That may be the point: the meaning, the salvation, or whatever else that we so desperately seek may never be fully realized. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we should stop searching for it. —Mary Beth Campbell


For nearly four decades, the Melvins have existed in their own space and time, influencing countless musicians, and even an entire musical subculture, while proudly and steadfastly remaining outside the mainstream. It should be no shock, then, that their career-spanning  four-disc Five Legged Dog defies expectation. Though entirely acoustic, this album is neither light nor wistful; the acoustic renditions are in many ways heavier and more devastating than the originals. Case in point: their reimagining of their Houdini classic “Honey Bucket.” At this point in their career, it is a given that the instrumentals play off each other effortlessly. Buzz Osborne’s precise and percussive guitar work should be given particular consideration, however, as should the vocal harmonies, which add to the haunting atmosphere. The majority of the 36 songs in this collection are Melvins originals, selected from their extensive discography, though songs from drummer Dale Crover and bassist Steven McDonald’s respective side projects are also included. There are several other covers as well, including previously unrecorded versions of The Rolling Stones’ “Sway” and Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talking. Five Legged Dog is not a retrospective but rather a glimpse of what might come next, an album that is unsentimental, original, and quintessentially the Melvins. —Mary Beth Campbell


New Orleans darkwave duo The Palace of Tears is steeped in alchemy. Named after the Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears) between East and West Berlin, Leah Darkling (vocals) and Erick r. Scheid (multi-instrumentals) have created a deep and mystical musical realm that truly embodies the gothic, borrowing from goth rock but also post-punk, jazz, opera, shoegaze, and electronica. Darkling’s vocals are sensual and powerful, taking the listener on a journey deep into the human psyche, amplified by Scheid’s ghostly, multi-layered instrumentation. The songs were written over the course of 2020, spanning the decadent joy of Mardi Gras season and the isolation, loneliness, and despair that resulted after the onset of the pandemic. “Masque L’Intrigue” explores the illusions we encounter and create (“The masks we wear, so as not to bare / The darkened and scarred underbelly / Reminders to stay aware”). “Thy Womb Full of Black Nectar,” with its industrial edge, explores the disorienting pain associated with loss. Other standout tracks include “Cold Dead Skin” and the title track (“Dreams weaved into Nightmare / Nightmare becomes Reality”). The songs on Of Ruination seek to better understand both human connection and what passes for the truth in this particularly lonely and grief-stricken time and place. —Mary Beth Campbell


Fess At Home offers an intimate glance into the playing of New Orleans piano icon Professor Longhair. On these recordings by Jazz Fest head Quint Davis, Fess wails away on his home piano without any of the pressure of a big studio session. That comfort results in laidback versions of staples such as “Tipitina” and “Big Chief.” Longhair’s fingers dance across familiar terrains while close collaborator Alfred “Uganda” Roberts provides sparse accompaniment on congas. Roberts softly taps on his drums while Longhair moans, groans, and whistles on “Lovely Lady.” This is Professor Longhair, up close and personal. His playing sounds clear as day without having to compete for space with other instruments. Students of Fess would be wise to dedicate some time to study these recordings. These takes don’t dethrone the classic versions that the whole city knows and loves, but they do add an extra level of depth to the Longhair legacy. This album also started a new chapter in the Tipitina’s legacy when it initially came out as the inaugural release for the Tipitina’s Record Club in early 2021. Since then, the beloved venue’s subscription vinyl label has pumped out unreleased live recordings from James Booker and The Radiators, as well as an expanded reissue of Galactic’s debut album Coolin’ Off. —William Archambeault


Turnstile excels at bubblegum hardcore, fusing ignorant riffs with the type of hooks that drill their way deep into your skull. Songs like “BLACKOUT” and “DANCE-OFF” are tailor-made to pack pits and generate passionate shout-alongs. Turnstile isn’t afraid to turn away from hardcore to create something beyond the rigid confines of that genre. On “T.L.C. (TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION),” vocalist Brendan Yates jumps into the chorus of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” after a crushing hardcore breakdown gives way to a decidedly un-hardcore 808 drum fill. These contrasts are an innate part of Turnstile’s identity. For instance, the seemingly endless crowd surfing footage featured in the video for “ALIEN LOVE CALL” feels at complete odds with the vibes of that chill collaboration featuring R&B singer Blood Orange. Past albums have also featured some bold choices, but Turnstile pushes even further on Glow On. This leap might be due to working with producer Mike Elizondo, a Dr. Dre understudy whose credits include boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, mainstream heartthrob Ed Sheeran, and even co-writing 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.” Turnstile may have their roots in hardcore, but they clearly have their eyes set on greener horizons. —William Archambeault


People=Ants documents the devastating power of Hurricane Ida via the Weather Warlock, Quintron‘s invention that transforms weather into music through meteorological sensors connected to an analog synthesizer. Man versus nature may be a story as old as time, but the Weather Warlock never fails to make it feel new and exciting. Various sensors harness elements such as rain and wind to transform a usually calm drone into layers of rapid-fire sounds. This carefully edited 20-minute collage captures the hurricane between 4:00 to 6:50 p.m. on August 29. Quintron also spliced field recordings and weather reports on top of the angular drone, further propelling the feeling of chaos. The track eventually fades away to FEMA hold muzak, a reminder that hurricane season isn’t just about man versus nature. The aftermath is far too often defined by man versus bureaucracy. While the Weather Warlock has a relatively small discography, listeners can tune into, anytime Quintron has power, to hear it transform nature into music. —William Archambeault


The Metallica Blacklist is Metallica’s latest attempt at proving their music reaches far beyond the group’s namesake genre. In honor of their self-titled album’s 30th anniversary, they have compiled a massive 53-track compilation made up entirely of new covers of songs from The Black Album. This bloated prize horse offers listeners everything ranging from stadium popstars (Miley Cyrus) to acoustic flamenco guitar strummers (Rodrigo y Gabriela). The quality of these contributions fluctuates wildly. For instance, OFF! plows through a powerful hardcore punk version of “Holier Than Thou,” propelled by new drummer Justin Brown of Thundercat fame. In contrast, Weezer half-heartedly meanders their way through one of the most bland, uninspired versions of “Enter Sandman” ever put out for public consumption. A lot could be written about the dull or just plain bad covers on this compilation, but thankfully there are plenty of highlights as well. Kamasi Washington transforms “My Friend of Misery” into something that truly transcends the original. His top notch group of jazz players takes listeners on a spiritual journey to the very root of sorrow. Jason Isbell tears through a cranked-up roots version of “Sad But True,” owning it with the type of bravado that vocalists need to adopt in order to avoid bad impressions of James Hetfield. If you do decide to go twisting, turning through this seemingly never-ending collection, remember to hit shuffle or pick out a few artists to check out at a time. I’d rather get a lobotomy than have to listen to 12 consecutive versions of “Nothing Else Matters” again. —William Archambeault


Local label Strange Daisy has crafted 30 minutes of hip-hop beats specially made for soundtracking Halloween parties and trick-or-treating. Haunted House Party is in the same vein as dollar bin Halloween albums designed to provide the proper ambiance for October celebrations. Sample-heavy tracks like “Whistlin’ Past Tha Graveyard” feel, in part, like a tribute to the off-kilter production of ghoulish hip-hop icon MF DOOM (who passed away last Halloween). A track named “Morgus” pays homage to New Orleans’ favorite mad scientist. There is one small trick to Strange Daisy’s treat: The label claims to not know what mysterious creature created these cuts. Maybe it was a collaboration between Frankenstein‘s monster and a werewolf? I personally like to imagine a gold-chained Dracula hidden deep inside his castle, tapping away at a drum machine in the dead of night. Regardless of who made these beats, Haunted House Party is a great way to get into the spirit of the season. —William Archambeault


During World War II, the U.S. government locked people it deemed to be “enemy aliens” in prison camps across the country. Most notoriously, more than 100,000 Japanese Americans—most of them U.S. citizens—were imprisoned for no reason but their ancestry. In Camp Algiers, on the Westbank in New Orleans, it was mostly Europeans who were locked up amid wartime paranoia and xenophobia, explains Marilyn Grace Miller, a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Tulane. She offers fascinating detail about the lives and deep frustration of the people unjustly imprisoned at the facility, many of whom—including more than a few Jews—had crossed the Atlantic fleeing Hitler, earning the facility the nickname “Camp of the Innocent.” Many had gotten caught up in roundups by Latin American allies or the U.S. itself, including a woman who said she was arrested in Ecuador after refusing sexual solicitations from a member of the secret police, and a Seattle-area Jewish doctor, apparently turned in by colleagues amid labor turmoil. Though the book is more narrative than polemic, Miller ties World War II-era detention into the long history of arbitrary detention and other abuses against immigrants to the United States. —Steven Melendez


When the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was founded in 1987, the world was six years into the HIV/AIDS crisis. ACT UP New York was an unlikely coalition of activists from all identities and backgrounds, united in their anger at the inaction of the U.S. government. What they did was change the world, transforming the AIDS paradigm and influencing future public health and activist movements, including harm reduction and housing justice. This is all recorded in incredible detail in Sarah Schulman’s beautiful and devastating Let the Record Show. Schulman, who was herself a member of ACT UP and is the co-director of the ACT UP Oral History Project, has written the definitive history of the movement, both giving the spotlight to the many and diverse individuals who made up the coalition but who have been too often whitewashed from its history, and memorializing the many who were lost. Schulman, in her unflinching honesty, also uses the book to provide a framework for current and future activist movements. In the words of Schulman, “[t]his is a story that should have been impossible, which is why it is crucial for us now to understand how and why it happened.” —Mary Beth Campbell