Unmasking A Confidence Trickster, the second studio album from Anne Elise Hastings and Her Revolving Cast of Characters, continues a beloved country music tradition of borderline-unhinged women being pushed to the brink by the men who’ve done them wrong. Though she doesn’t make quite such drastic confessions, an album peppered with lyrics like, “Aggression’s just affection that’s mislaid… you should know the high road’s not the one I take,” certainly makes it seem plausible that she’d, say, carve her name into leather seats or serve up dubious black-eyed peas. Over the course of 11 original songs Hastings bounces between sassy anthems about righteously kicking manipulative (or simply mediocre) lovers to the curb, and downtempo accounts of the vulnerable moments when she was unable to do so. “Sara Jane” marks a high point, with its head-tossed-back, sing-along-worthy chorus (“Want my name out your mouth and your shit! Out! Of! My house!”); and I dare you not to get chills every time she slides into the chorus on “Loving You.” But it’s not all heartache and havoc. There’s also “Missouri,” the tear-jerking true story of Hastings’ great-grandparents falling in love as young bandmates and eloping. The cast of characters appearing on this album are Isaac Worley on drums, Tristan Clark on bass, Dustin Dietsche on guitar, and George Thomas on trumpet, percussion, guitar, and lap steel, bringing lots of energy and some old-school country twang to the mix. —Angela Calonder


Teenage punk rockers The Linda Lindas first gained international attention in May 2021 with their now-viral performance at the Los Angeles Public Library. After a whirlwind year, the quartet have released Growing Up, their full-length debut. Named for a song by Japanese punk band The Blue Hearts, mentored by the likes of Bethany Cosentino (Best Coast) and Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin), The Linda Lindas are one of the forerunners in the more intersectional revival of riot grrrl. Sharing vocal and songwriting credits, they explore their anxieties and insecurities with power chords and catchy pop hooks, a sense of hope and optimism balancing any angst. The ferocious “Racist, Sexist Boy,” based on an encounter drummer Mila de la Garza had with a classmate, is a rolicking declaration against racism and misogyny (“We rebuild what you destroy”). The anthemic, poppy “Growing Up” is a beautiful ode to adolescence and friendship (“We can take turns taking the reins / Lean on each other when we need some extra strength / We’ll never cave or we’ll never waver / We’ll always become braver and braver”). Other notable tracks are the opening track “Oh!” and “Magic.” Growing Up is a smart, poignant collection of punk and power pop songs with themes and emotions that are relatable no matter where you find yourself in life. —Mary Beth Campbell


An ode to origin and identity, Leyla McCalla’s fourth solo album, Breaking the Thermometer, honors her Haitian roots. As the daughter of activist parents, both of whom emigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, McCalla explores the island’s tumultuous past and uncertain future through words and beats. This haunting 15-track call-to-action includes clips from Radio Haiti, a station which was destroyed by the country’s oppressive political regime, but whose recordings McCalla is researching with a team from Duke University. A singer/songwriter/cellist and former member of the acclaimed Carolina Chocolate Drops, McCalla currently resides in New Orleans. The album is performed in a mixture of Kreyòl and English, and it tells a painful tale of colonization, corruption, political violence, and crippling socio-economic woes. Her tracks combine elements of folk and blues with traditional Afro-Caribbean sounds and stories, blending cultures and genres. The track “Vini Wè,” which means “come look” in Kreyòl, is a love song inspired by the relationship between Radio Haiti journalists Michèle Montas and Jean Dominique. The track feels gentle and carefree, backed by upbeat instrumentals and the bright sounds of a bustling village, but the words hint at the deep, enduring partnership. The last track, “Boukman’s Prayer,” is an adaptation of a well-known prayer originally recited by Dutty Boukman—a Haitian revolutionary—before battle. McCalla sings the prayer in Kreyòl, her words ringing out with intentionality and reverence, over traditional hand drum percussion; the track sounds as though it belongs in a religious ceremony. McCalla’s album highlights the great fortitude of the Haitian people and is a poignant reminder that there is freedom and agency in embracing one’s history. —Shirani Jayasuriya


Whether crowd surfing at a kindergarten in Kyoto or shouting lyrics after getting their power cut at SXSW in Austin, the members of Otoboke Beaver thrive on chaos. The Japanese four-piece’s latest album SUPER CHAMPON is an explosive 21 minutes that draws on this affinity for the unexpected. On jagged tunes like “I won’t dish out salads,” the rambunctious rockers fearlessly leap from one idea to the next with a disregard for continuity that always keeps listeners on their toes. They’ve successfully turbocharged the punk-steeped yet boundaryless sound that earned them an international audience with their 2019 album ITEKOMA HITS by going for even shorter, more frantic songs. On the anthemic “Dirty old fart is waiting for my reaction,” singer Accorinrin fiercely expresses her disdain for sleazeballs over breakneck drumming and big guitar chords. Other lyrical themes, expressed in a creative mishmash of Japanese and English, include finding a dating app match on your partner’s phone (“I checked your cellphone“), the frustration of navigating language barriers (“PARDON?“), and a merch table jingle because musicians need to eat (“Let’s shopping after show“). From start to finish, SUPER CHAMPON shows that Otoboke Beaver takes no shit and that maybe we too could benefit from channeling some of that energy. —William Archambeault


Though not widely acknowledged, country music has a rich queer history that goes back to at least the 1920s. Orville Peck, the mysterious, masked queer cowboy, is part of a recent revival of mainstream LGBTQIA+ country musicians. Since his 2019 debut Pony, Peck’s sound has evolved from a sparse, indie sound to the bold, polished, and cinematic Bronco (note the 2020 EP Show Pony as a transition point between the two albums). Despite its modern sheen, Bronco is rooted in classic country and rock; in addition to Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison, Peck is also indebted to the likes of Lee Hazlewood, Duane Eddy, and 1970s California rock (C’mon Baby, Cry). The album opens with the emotional and hot-blooded ballad Daytona Sand (“Is that another whispered plan? / I’ve been around long enough to know you can’t trust a man”). The energy from this opener is carried throughout, from the rollicking title track to the yearning bluegrass of “Hexie Mountains.” Bronco is a love letter to country music and an unapologetic celebration of the queerness which continues to shape the genre to this day. (Orville Peck plays at the Civic Theatre on May 11.)Mary Beth Campbell


Pop punk suffers from swathes of derivative garbage from even its most acclaimed artists. At the risk of comparing Prince Daddy & the Hyena (PDH) to those bands, their recent self-titled release is as Green Day as it is entirely something new. PDH has rekindled the pop punk formula with tasteful inclusions of shoegaze guitars, pop synths, and even gospel-like organ. There are still plenty of half-screamed vocals and chugging guitars, but the band has more groove this time. “Hollow, As You Figured” features screeching guitars, a steady-marching band beat, a fat bassline, and a breakdown that wields a guitar solo to match any old-school rocker. Following a nearly fatal crash, vocalist and guitarist Kory Gregory suffered from an extreme existential dread, which bleeds through the record. “Black Mold” takes an introspective turn as Gregory reflects on depression and suicide as a loving voicemail from a drunken friend breaks up the verses. He sings, “Back in April, the coffee table didn’t seem so far away / He turns me over pats my shoulder tells me everything’s okay,” before he sings the refrain “What a lie,” as a wall of sound overtakes the track. It’s a blunt end but Gregory finds some levity on the closing track, “Baby Blue.” Like many a mental episode, sometimes the way out of the darkness is as simple as finding the light. —Dalton Spangler


Throughout punk’s history, the term “sellout” has grown from being a libelous smear on any band’s image into an antiquated joke with little threat behind it. After all, there’s no one to sell out to anymore. But PUP sell out anyway on their new LP, THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND. The pinnacle track “PUPTHEBAND Inc. Is Filing For Bankruptcy,” captures this idea with the lyrics, “I used to be reckless and too broke to eat / Now all of my friends have bidets in their en suites.” Originating from the DIY-punk world, PUP has often said in interviews how they never felt better than their contemporaries, they just failed upwards. This album reflects on DIY guilt, imposter syndrome, and self-sabotage with clean, almost pop-style songwriting that still feels authentic. Lead vocalist Stefan Babcock interjects between songs with weird piano ballads in a Conor Oberst-esque way with meta lyrics on being in a band and making an album. Every track feels like “PUP” with plenty of gang vocals and chaotic guitar tones. It’s disappointing that many of the best tracks like “Totally Fine,” “Matilda,” and “Waiting” were teased early, but the other tracks hold up too, especially the introspective songs like “Cutting Off The Corners.” PUP usually doesn’t sound as melancholy as they are lyrically, but this track marries sonic and lyrical sadness with subdued drums and slow-moving but powerful guitars. This album isn’t much different from previous PUP releases but if you aren’t already in their corner, it might convince you otherwise. —Dalton Spangler


U.K.-based musical collective SAULT are as prolific as they are mysterious. In their typical fashion, they posted a vague teaser of their new album Air about releasing it in full on April 13th. The follow-up to 2021’s Nine (which is no longer available on streaming platforms), Air is a distinct departure from the neo-soul and disco styles of the collective’s previous five albums. A melding of avante-garde classical, soul, brass, choral, and orchestral strings, the album gently takes the listener out of time and place into a lush soundscape. Save for vocals from Cleo Sol on “Time Is Precious” and the non-lyrical choral singing throughout, the seven tracks on Air are entirely instrumental. The album is reminiscent of the soundtrack to a classic movie or musical; there are certainly shades of Aaron Copland and Rodgers & Hammerstein present. This is a gorgeous, transcendent collection of songs. Though it doesn’t contain dance tracks or stirring political commentary, Air does offer a meditative and immersive escape that allows the listener comfort and respite from the outer world; in that regard, it does not differ from the rest of the SAULT catalog. —Mary Beth Campbell


One of the first things you notice about U.K. indie duo Wet Leg is their irreverence—it can be hard, at times, to discern whether they are taking their music seriously and whether they are taking the piss out of the entire scene. In all likelihood, it is both. Their self-titled debut is both catchy and languid, a careful study of dancey, guitar-driven indie dance music that places a female-centered voice in a traditionally male-dominated genre. “Chaise Lounge,” the first single, is a direct objection to preconceived notions about female musicians and fans being both passive and supplicant (“What are you doing sitting down? / You should be horizontal now”). “Angelica” expresses their underlying disenchantment with the whole indie world (“I don’t know what I’m even doing here / I was told that there would be free beer / I don’t wanna follow you on the gram / I don’t wanna listen to your band”). Though at times they lean a bit on the sophomoric side, the band’s humor draws you in as much as their hooks, punctuating the absurdity and existential horror of such things as shit parties and even worse men (“Wet Dream,” “I Don’t Wanna Go Out”). In short, Wet Leg is a chaotic pleasure, striking that rare balance between being unflinchingly honest yet fun. —Mary Beth Campbell


Two trans girls fight to survive in a post-apocalyptic New England where a mysterious virus called t. rex causes anyone with high enough levels of testosterone to turn into violent, vicious creatures who will rape and kill anyone they find. In the aftermath of the events of T-Day—when the plague t. rex unleashed itself into North America, transforming men into monsters while their loved ones watched in confused horror—Fran and Beth hunt rogue men for their testicles and adrenal glands to then be synthesized into estrogen, which in turn keeps testosterone levels in check. Along with their friends Indie (a superfat cis woman doctor and longtime companion who has the lab skills to make the estrogen) and Robbie (a sharp-shooting, loner trans man with a mysterious past who begrudgingly joins their group), we follow Fran and Beth through a gut-wrenching story of survival, where they band together to fight a growing army of TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) threatening to take over the entire Northeast, murdering every trans person they can find. This book is the first horror novel with a major publisher written by an openly trans woman, and is anticipated to be one of the best horror novels of 2022. In a time when anti-trans violence and legislation are threatening so many, this story of solidarity in the face of death is a love letter of strength to radical trans communities. —Kallie Tiffault


Twenty-five years after it first debuted, Buffy the Vampire Slayer maintains an undeniable influence on television and popular culture in general. It is scary, smart, and sexy, and contributed to important conversations about feminism, gender, sexuality, and power. It was created by Joss Whedon, a person whose toxicity and abuse wielded problematic influence on set. How does one reconcile these dueling truths? That is one of the central questions that writer and Buffy superfan Evan Ross Katz asks in Into Every Generation a Slayer is Born: How Buffy Staked Our Hearts. Katz is careful to not offer a solution for those who are conflicted about where to stand on Buffy; that is ultimately up to each individual. While the book does not shy away from uncomfortable truths, it also takes care to emphasize the show’s positive legacy, in particular its community. Actresses Charisma Carpenter, Amber Benson, Clare Kramer, and Emma Caulfield all note how, to this day, fans tell them that the show gave them an anchor when they most needed it. Katz adds on to this in a statement that, for him and so many of us, is no exaggeration: “Buffy saved my life.” Into Every Generation is both an honest critique and unapologetic love letter to its subject, an example of how to honor something while also holding it accountable. —Mary Beth Campbell


James Spooner is an activist, tattoo artist, Afro-Punk documentary filmmaker, founder of the music festival of the same name, and now, with his debut memoir The High Desert: Black. Punk. Nowhere., a graphic novelist. Before this, though, he was a young, biracial teen living in the desolate desert town of Apple Valley, California in the early 1980s. It was there that Spooner was introduced to the punk community, which The High Desert chronicles in bittersweet detail. Though punk rock offered refuge for Spooner and his friends, he was not shielded from the racism and other brutal realities present in the small town scene. Spooner does not shy away from the painful memories, nor is he afraid to cast a critical, albeit loving eye on his younger self. The memoir includes a fateful trip to New York City at age 14, where chance encounters with other Black and Latinx punks opened his eyes to intersectional politics and set him on the path that led him to where he is now. As Spooner writes, “Punk positioned me to listen.” The High Desert is a beautiful and moving coming-of-age story and love letter to the Black roots of punk rock, the ethos behind the movement, and to all the past, present, and future kids in the scene. —Mary Beth Campbell


On the outskirts of Paris, government housing projects left over from the Communist party of France in the ‘60s sit unmaintained and aging, while the families they house build tight-knit communities among their rapidly deteriorating apartments. Teenager Youri lives in the housing project Gagarine, named after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human who went to space. Youri himself is fascinated with space and science, and creates innovative technologies using foraged scraps to make improvements to Gagarine, installing lights and even fixing an elevator. Despite his efforts, he can’t fix asbestos, and the building is condemned. And while his relationships with his community are close, he doesn’t have a place to relocate, and his mother is nowhere to be found. In this beautiful film—a Cannes Official Selection—a forgotten boy builds a life inside a collapsing building, a feeling all of us who make our homes in South Louisiana can relate to. Starring newcomer Alséni Bathily, who gives a sweet and subtle performance alongside stunning visuals and a beautifully tragic story that blurs into magical realism, this film is a promising debut for the first feature from directors Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh. —Kallie Tiffault


Twenty-year old Bella Cherry arrives in Los Angeles to pursue her dream of being the next big porn star. In this subtly humorous and loving portrayal of life working in the porn industry, Bella navigates the delicate social scene in L.A. and the realities of what it takes to succeed in her career; she must take risks and find out who she can really rely on. While the plot may be pretty basic, the dynamic and complex characters are the backbone of this film. Aside from Sofia Kappel, the breakout star portraying Bella, all of the actors in the film are actual sex workers in the adult entertainment industry—you might see a familiar face or two in this film, depending on your personal tastes. The solidarity between Bella and her fellow porn actress friends shows a side of sex work that is overwhelmingly tender and special. While some reviews respond strongly to this movie, acting like porn is inherently horrifying, these puritanical reactions miss the point—but I guess that’s what happens when you make a film about sex in an Avengers-neutered world. There may be some disturbing scenes in the film, but as our protagonist says, “it doesn’t matter what you do for a living, you have bad days at work.” —Kallie Tiffault


“You are beautiful” / “Eat the rich” / “Love”—these are simple words and phrases that one might come across every day, but Mike Brodie (a.k.a. “The Polaroid Kidd”) captures them with his Polaroid cameras in a way that exceeds the mundane. Brodie began a life of train-hopping in 2004 when he lived in a punk house called “309” in Pensacola, Florida. Over the course of two decades, he has traveled the country and collected images of various subcultures he has encountered: punks, train-hoppers, vagabonds, squatters, and more. The exhibition at Good Children Gallery showcases his work in amalgamations of portraits, landscapes, and graffiti, among other subjects. The selection of Brodie’s work includes the very first Polaroid 600 frame he took in 2003, as well as other images using Spectra and SX-70 film. Brodie’s use of Polaroid film, itself a dying medium, portrays his subjects in a DIY aesthetic while shedding light on some of the overlooked, forgotten, and often stigmatized portions of society. “The heart is a lonely hunter”—another of Brodie’s images depicts this saying as it is being written on a wooden wall. Brodie’s work is a glimpse into the vision of an artist whose life has been spent hunting and searching for beauty and community amidst hardship, attempting to find visual truth in between the slits and cracks of modern life. —Andy Pham


Last year, Big Chief Joseph Pierre “Monk” Boudreaux celebrated his 80th birthday. Boudreaux is the oldest living Mardi Gras Indian chief, and has led the Golden Eagles tribe for more than 50 years. A new photo exhibit at the New Orleans Jazz Museum celebrates his life and legacy as a musician and community leader. Photographer Erika Goldring has kept in touch with Boudreaux and his family over a period of 17 years, capturing the portraits which are now collected here. Accompanying the photographs are recordings of Boudreaux’s music—from 1970s recordings of his work with the Wild Magnolias to selections from his 2021 album Bloodstains & Teardrops. Goldring’s shots show the tribe members out in the streets and inside their homes, document their annual meeting places and intricate suits, and record birthday parties and engagement announcements. Some were taken on a gray Super Sunday in the early morning, some on a clear blue Fat Tuesday at midday, some on comparatively quiet weekday evenings. Facial expressions range widely—now beaming, now proud and stoic, now with mouths wide open to cry out a chant. Erika Goldring’s photographs are as vivid and exuberant as the community they capture. (The exhibit will run through October.) —Alena Cover


Nadia Mohamed’s exhibition Mistakes Were Made, on view at SHED in the Bywater through the first week of May, is an experience of space, texture, and light. An artist from Baltimore who primarily works with fibers and textiles, Mohamed was invited by Gabrielle Banzhaf and Jon Gott, co-founders of SHED, to participate in a one week mini-residency in New Orleans, during which she was able to experience the city and allow it to inform how she presented her work within the space. The visual centerpieces of the show are two quilts, approximately 5 by 6 feet, hanging from the ceiling of the open air space in the couple’s backyard. The installation feels connected to and in sync with the space. The work carries with it themes of regret, reconciliation, and death. A standout piece titled “Rift” is made with a torn piece of fibrous paper sewn together with cotton thread and pinned to the rustic wooden wall of the shed. The way the paper sits, hanging in a state of tenuous fragility, depicts the duality between human weakness and strength. The tear is complete but the threads holding the two separate pieces together feel almost strong enough to recombine them into one. Human error is inevitable, but the possibility of reconnection and resolution remains. —Andy Pham


The Maven is a hidden gem on a “secret street” in the Quarter, and a gem it is with its current third pop-up (of four planned shows) presented by collaborators Mandy Simpson and Kellie Peach. This month’s theme, “Humidity,” brings with it a lush explosion resemblant of the swamps that surround us. Fourteen artists are housed in this gallery where Peach brings 17 years’ experience of curating from California to New Orleans to showcase an assemblage of local and national artists. “I curate what I’m impressed by,” Peach explains, pointing to a detail in Sophia Germer’s “House Boots,” a collection of paintings flaunting a quirky aspect of what it means to live below sea level. Houseboats in shrimp boots flank a wall with artist Eric Broers, whose eclectic animal collages are skateboarding in the reflection of Galaxy Gal’s graffiti pieces. A cacophony of playful fun fills these walls answering this month’s call of the swamp like Aura Jane’s “Pelican” sculpture offering its eviscerated heart; this beauty astounds, much like the undulating surrealism of Benry Fauna’s portraits dangling from the brick walls, or basqo’s detailed masks which offer a jump into magic and mystery with their delightful intricacy. A feast of sensory textures from wood to metal to fabric fills almost every inch, which Simpson says has been the apex of this collaboration. Simpson notes it has given many New Orleans artists the opportunity to share their work in a space that also reflects the generative relationship found in the local community. There is much joy to be had here from wearable art to the art of really seeing how connected we are in this jungle of humanity. —Megan Burns

Verified by MonsterInsights