Once Twice Melody, the eighth studio album from dream pop darlings Beach House, is a sprawling collection of 18 songs originally released online in fourchapters.” The songs run the gamut, from tracks formed around acoustic guitars to electronic tracks with nary a guitar in sight, and from songs filled with a string ensemble to those that employ drum machines and keyboards. Indeed, Beach House seems to be using this album to explore influences across the spectrum while still maintaining their core spirit and sound. It is hard to compare the tracks, as they exist in their own little worlds, though there are standouts to recommend to any intimidated first-time listener. The sweeping “Superstar” employs electric guitars and vocal elements, evoking the Cocteau Twins, to deliver a heart-wrenching tale of lost love (“I see it now in this photograph / Something good never meant to last”). “Over and Over” is the dream pop equivalent of a power ballad with a disco-esque beat. Other standouts are “Another Go Around,” which channels Elliott Smith, and the Bowie-tinged “Modern Love Stories.” Though it can get lost in its own ambition at times, Once Twice Melody is both a return to form for Beach House and a sumptuous love letter to music itself. —Mary Beth Campbell


The Runner, the fifth album released by darkwave duo Boy Harsher, was created as the soundtrack to a short horror film of the same name which was also written and directed by the band. Focusing on a mysterious and self-destructive woman who wreaks violence upon those she encounters, the soundtrack and film examine the more horrific and sinister sides of seduction. Written shortly after vocalist Jae Matthews was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, there is also an urgency and desire for freedom woven into the music, which Matthews describes as a cathartic experience post-diagnosis. Opener “Tower” starts off as a quietly ominous electronic track, eventually devolving into roaring, animalistic synths. The hypnotic “Give Me a Reason” is darkly sexy, barely hiding a sense of danger beneath its subdued surface. Keeping with the ethos of a typical movie soundtrack, there is variety in the tracks as well as guest vocalists; this includes the surprisingly bright “Autonomy” (which features bedroom pop artist Lucy, a.k.a. Cooper B. Handy) and the ‘80s-influenced “Machina” (featuring Mariana Saldaña of BOAN). The album—and film—end with the delicate and mournful “I Understand,” a quiet finale to an otherwise deliciously unsettling musical journey. Indeed, Boy Harsher seems to understand the purpose of horror—both the darkness it deftly examines and the catharsis this may bring us. —Mary Beth Campbell


BRAT keeps it lean and mean with their second EP Grime Boss. In less than eight minutes, the band tears through four songs executed with precision and plenty of pissed off attitude. BRAT fuses hardcore with a variety of gnarly metal subgenres to create a sound with bone-crushing intensity on tracks like “Rise” and “Bitch Muscle.” These songs are certified pit starters, complete with scream-along vocals and ripping guitars. At the same time they burn through adrenaline pumpers, BRAT starkly contrasts the hyper masculinity that plagues metal by heavily leaning into femme aesthetic choices. Fuscia EP covers and shirts paying homage to Paris Hilton and Mean Girls play into what the band has jokingly referred to as “the yassification of powerviolence” and “bimboviolence” on social media. The EP’s sole music video features the band burning through “Grime Boss” and “Total Rust” at a tinsel-draped high school talent show. Their charged performance fails to elicit much response from unenthused judges, played by Thou’s Bryan Funck, Silver Godling’s Emily McWilliams, and local underground superfan Isabel Sbeiti. It is still to be seen if the young band will win over the gatekeeping judges of metal and hardcore cred beyond the city boundaries, but I’m rooting for them. —William Archambeault


In 2021, New Orleans-based musician Spencer Nessel (Latitude Unknown) decided that he wanted to collaborate with more artists in the New Orleans scene. The result is Burnt Sugar, featuring Nessel as well as Meredith Law (Palm Sunday), Duncan Troast (The Convenience, Video Age), and Julie Odell. Their debut EP, Restless Feelings, is a tight three-song collection with a ‘70s vibe. The group’s many influences include Carole King, early Prince, Junie Morrison, and Lewis Taylor. As the EP’s title might suggest, the songs’ lyrics come from a place of healing. “If You Want Me,” with Nessel on the lead, is a musing on relationships set against a groovy bass line created by producer/multi-instrumentalist Troast. The melodic “Easy (Read the Road), featuring Law on vocals, is about finding the strength to set boundaries when you are being mistreated (“Easy with the teasing, you should know / You need me to feel you’re in control”). Julie Odell takes the lead vocals on “Only A Fool (Would Say Love Starts with a Kiss),” a sunny and easy pop song about the importance of loving yourself. Restless Feelings is feel-good music with emotional depth, a self-reflective balm against the heaviness of the world. —Mary Beth Campbell


In her debut studio album, Alice Glass pulls no punches in exorcising her history of abuse. Departing from her formerly abrasive performance style, Glass adopts a much more saccharine vocal technique, and although retaining her electronic influences, ditches her punk affect for a pop-inflected record. Thematically, the album embodies a kind of inverse nostalgia; the lyrical content primarily revolves around domestic violence, abusive relationships, and a nihilism stemming from the acceptance of one’s emotional damage at the hands of the former. The past is indeed ever-present in Glass’ record—the album title and cover art are tongue-in-cheek references to her former band Crystal Castles, through which she was involved with her abuser, and PREY//IV was produced by Jupiter Keyes of former Crystal Castles collaborators HEALTH. Although this album arrives as a much-needed follow-up from Glass (it’s been five years since her last release), little has changed from her previous release conceptually. PREY//IV incorporates new influences related to the nascent hyperpop scene, but Glass’ lyrics have only grown less nuanced. It is empowering to hear Glass reclaim her traumatic past and make it her own through art, but by continuing on this trajectory she risks becoming rigid both stylistically and artistically. At some point or another, a line must be drawn: What constitutes a cathartic experience and what is just an obsession with the past? —Ori Tsameret


When Hal Ashby’s controversial film, Harold and Maude, debuted in 1971 it was a box office disaster. Years later, the macabre film would become a cult classic, garnering praise and affection from a new, younger audience. To mark its 50th anniversary, a special version of the soundtrack, which was written and performed in its entirety by Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam), has been released. The score is composed of beloved tracks from Stevens’ third and fourth studio albums, Mona Bone Jakon (1970) and Tea for the Tillerman (1970)—the latter of which propelled the singer-songwriter into fame. Remastered at Abbey Road Studios, it includes extra instrumentals and dialogue, as well as unreleased versions of Stevens’ hits “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out” and “Don’t Be Shy”—both of which were recorded from recently rediscovered audio masters. The soundtrack, which features the London-born folk singer’s signature lullaby-eque vocals, acoustic guitar, and introspective lyrics, acts as more than just background music. Much like in musical theater, it creates additional opportunities for the film’s title characters to understand their bond and for audiences to empathize with them. Cat Stevens’ Harold and Maude soundtrack continues to provide timeless truths about human nature and the relationships we form with one another. —Shirani Jayasuriya


Local punk rocker David Sabludowsky put out two tapes under his solo moniker D.Sablu for the project’s March tour. “LIVE” FOR TOUR and DEMO #1 both largely focus on material that first debuted in different forms on the 2020 album Taken By Static. While Taken By Static sounded like a pandemic-era bedroom isolation project, these new tapes attempt to document D.Sablu’s live sound. Sabludowsky abandons the drum machines and electronic flirtations featured in past work in favor of real drums and a more straightforward rock‘n’roll attack. On the chaotic “69 Forever” (featured on both tapes), he preaches the egalitarianism of the namesake position over jagged guitar. These short tapes benefit from a wonderfully raw approach to recording that allows the project’s rambunctious energy to shine through. Sabludowsky plays everything except for the drums on “Live” For Tour. Most of Demo #1 features him alongside the full band that has ignited many rowdy nights at Banks Street Bar and other dives across town. —William Archambeault


After the success of their 2018 release Cheer, Drug Church has had more attention than ever before. Released via Pure Noise Records, Hygiene delivers some of their crunchiest and hardest-hitting tracks to date while still maintaining their lyrical fortitude. Drug Church has always found itself in the weird in-between category of a band that is too heavy to fit in with indie rock crowds but too slow and melodic to fit in with hardcore. Like Turnstile and Run For Cover, they’ve been able to find crossover success through their genre-androgyny. Hygiene is no different. “World Impact,” a song about a kid stabbing someone at school with a butterfly knife, sounds like a train wreck in slow motion as chugging guitars push the narrative forward. On the other end of the spectrum, “Detective Lieutenant” leads with a softer, melodic guitar line orbiting a heavy center, almost like a ‘90s grunge tune. Vocalist Patrick Kindlon writes powerful lyrics and makes a trite subject like “cancel culture bad” into something actually thought-provoking. Lines like “Architect and mason build a square / You’re the one who assigns it meaning” and “One man per crucifix / Form a line your turn is coming just give it time” stand out. The short running time makes Hygiene blur by as an album to throw on whenever. —Dalton Spangler


I don’t think I truly understood the genius of Mitski until I experienced the unique coincidence of profound loneliness and fiery self-preservation revealed to me through the challenges of emerging adulthood. Haunting melodies and poetic lyrics provide an eagle’s eye view of the delicate balance of survival and sacrifice we each struggle to find in a society that thirsts for the validation of desirability. In contrast to her previous works, Laurel Hell—Mitski’s sixth studio album—tells the story of a more mature protagonist. The theme of accepting the solemn fate of reality permeates throughout the work, abandoning calls of desperation in favor of a quiet embrace of earthly circumstances, as heard in “Heat Lightning”: “And there’s nothing I can do / Not much I can change / So I give it up to you.” Mitski seems to have weathered the tumultuous storm of early adulthood, emerging on the other side more or less intact, having transformed heartbreak and destruction into pearls of wisdom that resonate with her passionate audience. In “Working for the Knife,” she divulges a sense of hope for the future to come: “Maybe at 30, I’ll see a way to change.” —Victoria Conway


[The print version of this review incorrectly features Total Hell’s demo artwork. —Ed.] The new wave of shitty heavy metal is finally here and it comes with the Goner Records stamp of approval! Total Hell conjures fierce riffs from the fiery depths below on scorching tracks like “Clones From Hell” and “Desecrate.” These wasteland bandits, credited under names like Michael Maniac and Henry Hell, are some of the most prolific forces in the New Orleans punk rock scene. In addition to taking the oath with Total Hell, members have torn up stages across the globe as part of Trampoline Team, Static Static, and King Louie’s very own Persuaders, just to name a few groups. This 12″, recorded to tape at the band’s house studio, sharply contrasts the gross overproduction and obsession with hyper-precision that ruins most modern metal records. Band members wear this as a badge of honor, brandishing themselves as the bringers of the “New Wave Of Shitty Heavy Metal.” Unfortunately, recording to tape at home comes with its own unique issues. Technical difficulties destroyed much of the recorded sessions, forcing the band to trim their debut album down to an EP. To make up for the lost material, DD Deth banged out some ominous interludes on a cheap MIDI keyboard. The interlude before “Disfigured” evokes images of horses galloping across a burning medieval landscape before giving way to Total Hell’s metal siege. Be sure to grab a vinyl copy so you can hear a locked groove shout “Hell!” for all eternity while you drift into the fiery abyss below. —William Archambeault


Vuzz (Christy Soto and Mike Goetz) first formed in 2018, busking their unique electropop/trip-pop music across Europe before settling back into New Orleans. Amidst the pandemic and personal trauma, they have taken their music back on the road, living in a “minimalist van with a maximalist aesthetic to reflect the whimsy and wonder they desired to still see in the world.” This whimsy and wonder are evident in their self-titled debut, Vuzz, an eclectic and sensuous landscape built upon synths, beats, samples, and spoken word/rap. Vuzz is a band which seems to be ever-evolving, bearing their many influences (including Kraftwerk and Aphex Twin) while still remaining wholly their own entity. “Strange Structures,” the album’s first single, is evocative of a spiritual experience, with chant-like vocals structured over dark and shimmering synths and beats. “Voices” is dreamy and yearning (“Why make noise with our faces / Why speak?”), while “Cosmic Creme Fraiche” is more of a groove (think disco meets classic psychedelia meets Beck). Other notable tracks include “Heaven” and “Pocketknife.” The passion that Solo and Goetz have for their music and, above all, for life, are palpable in every track. This is music meant to be felt, not just heard. —Mary Beth Campbell


Of the many postpunk bands which have emerged from the U.K. in the past few years, Yard Act has distinguished themselves with their particular brand of acerbic wit, keen storytelling, social consciousness, and satire tempered with empathy. In fact, The Overload, their highly anticipated debut full-length and follow-up to 2021’s Dark Days EP, is as much indebted to classic Britpop bands like Pulp as it is to the post-punk canon. Frontman James Smith’s sardonic spoken word vocals bring to life a multitude of characters, punctuated by bass-driven melodies, muscular guitars, and incisive drums. Smith and company are certainly not averse to taking the piss out of certain archetypes, such as the alpha male businessman (“The Incident”) and bougie gentrifiers who fetishize poverty (Payday: “What constitutes a ghetto fetish? / Is it growing your own lettuces but not filling in the potholes?”). There is a kindness present, though, as evident in “Tall Poppies,” a sweeping song about a man who never left his home village (“He wasn’t perfect, but he was my friend / He wasn’t perfect, but he was one of us”). On The Overload, Yard Act seems to be telling us that, though there is much to satirize and rail against in this life, there is still a beauty worth celebrating—“it’s hippy bullshit, but it’s true.” —Mary Beth Campbell


Building Antebellum New Orleans is a meticulous account of the architectural contributions of free people of color to the city, and of the cultural landscape they worked within and acted on. Tara A. Dudley evokes a city in transition from Spanish colony to American metropolis, expanding past its original limits to create suburbs out of swampland. She outlines how city planning and patterns of settlement determined the physical boundaries and natures of its neighborhoods. Within this setting, Dudley takes two prominent families for case studies—the Souliés and the Dollioles—and traces their origins, ambitions, and accomplishments. She lays out the determining role these families had in establishing their communities (recording residential trends and the creation of schools, churches, and public squares), and describes the methods they used to get and keep money, security, and influence. Her book also details the progression of styles and trends in U.S. architecture throughout the period, and the contributions of free Black property owners, patrons, and building artisans to the development of Creole architecture. With the Civil War approaching, and each decade bringing tighter restrictions on legal and economic opportunities, the members of these two families and others like them continued to build and buy properties to secure livelihoods for themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. In doing so, they created the architectural legacy that we now identify with the city. —Alena Cover


As with much of history, that of comics has been centered almost exclusively on men (and white men at that) for decades. In the past few years this has changed, with the contributions of women, LGBTQIA+ folks, and BIPOC individuals being more widely acknowledged and celebrated. Comic Book Women: Characters, Creators, and Culture in the Golden Age is a comprehensive look at the important role female creators played in the production of the media in the Golden Age of Comics. Authors Peyton Brunet and Blair Davis shine the spotlight on artists and writers such as Toni Blum, who created the so-called “Marvel Method” of comic writing long before Jack Kirby or Stan Lee were given credit for it; June Tarpé Mills, who created the first female superhero, Miss Fury; and Lily Renée, who escaped Nazi Germany and went on to be an artist for strips such as The Werewolf Hunter and Señorita Rio. While celebrating these artists, Brunet and Davis do not shy away from discussing the sexual harrassment they faced, and the racism and homophobia that were rampant in the industry and often upheld by white female artists. Comic Book Women is thoughtful and well-researched, guiding us to not only reexamine comics history but also to push for more accountability and intersectionality in the modern canon. —Mary Beth Campbell


Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World provides a relatable yet simultaneously out-of-this-world romantic dramedy in the vein of Lena Dunham’s Girls. It follows Julie, a bright medical student turned psychology student turned writer and bookstore employee through 12 “chapters” in her life (prologue and epilogue notwithstanding). The film weaves together narrative and political commentary both explicitly and through an at-times forced staging. Julie confronts her millennial occupational and aspirational angst through a relationship with an established literary figure, Aksel, her first major love interest in the film. Julie’s first major conflict involves her hesitancy to have children with Aksel, who is in his 40s and eager to start a family. This conflict reappears in several forms throughout the film and we are led to believe Julie’s negative relationship with her father plays a large part in this. Yet for all the movie’s posturing as feminist, its political angle ultimately falls flat: Aksel’s relationship with Julie culminates in a misogynistic moment of Freudian mansplaining, her new boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend is leveraged in order to critique false colonial claims to indigeneity (providing little more than a caricature), and Julie is still hashing out feminist non-issues such as the feminist credentials of a blowjob enthusiast. Trier’s clumsiness imbues the film with charm, however, and yields a perfectly relatable, imperfect flick. —Ori Tsameret


Rosalie Smith’s latest show, Study of Wind on Grass, assembles a variety of works that incorporate themes like the passage of time, movement, and death. Smith often works with found objects. Here, she fashions a cohesive visual experience through the use of sculptures and Polaroids. Working with her mother’s old Polaroid camera, Smith shoots subjects such as dogs and debris. For the show, she then fit them into stacked wooden boxes, each containing one embedded image, inviting the viewer to intentionally pull out each Polaroid by its white tab to see the full set of images. In February 2021, Smith encountered four dead dogs in three weeks. Her own dog appears in one of the Polaroids, followed by an ominous image of another dog, its head warped by light damage to the emulsion. Another Polaroid depicts the wreckage of a car she saw in August. Coincidentally and tragically, about two months later, Smith herself was involved in a near-fatal car accident. What followed was perhaps the most powerful piece in the room, “Shell Collection,” a latex cast of the artist’s own hand stuffed with shells from her home. The three main sculptures were made from long grass that Smith collected from the End of the World and coated in resin. She then blew a fan onto them to freeze them into place atop found school desks, emulating their movement in nature, but also their preservation in death. They say bad things happen in threes. In Smith’s case, she turns damage, death, and loss into perseverance, resolve, and movement—like the feeling of watching grass under gusts of wind, bending but not breaking. —Andy Pham

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