The 10th studio album from Björk—Fossora (the made-up, feminized form of the Latin word for “dig”)—is a baroque wonderland which spans orchestral and traditional Icelandic music, avante-garde pop, and gabber, the hardcore techno sub-genre. Fossora is, in part, a tribute to Björk’s mother (environmental activist Hildur Rúna Hauksdóttir, who died in 2018) as well as an exploration of hope, grief, connection, and matriarchy. As she has done on previous albums, these concepts are examined through parallels to the natural world; in this case, via the life cycles and interconnectedness of fungi. Fossora is not the most accessible album: The songs can be challenging at times, and the fungal imagery a bit heavy-handed, though that is not to scare off potential listeners. “Sorrowful Soil” and “Ancestress,” a set of eulogies for her mother, find Björk processing her grief and memories in all their complexity. “Victimhood,” its fog horns evoking self-pity and folk-horror, is a rumination on the sacrifices often expected of matriarchs. Other standouts include the bright and erotic “Fungal City” (featuring serpentwithfeet), and the meditative closer “Her Mother’s House” (featuring Björk’s daughter, Isadora Bjarkardóttir Barney). If you have the time to commit, there is great beauty and universality to this set of songs. —Mary Beth Campbell
Nearly two decades after their self-titled debut, Dischord scene pop/garage-rock trio The Casual Dots has returned with Sanguine Truth. A supergroup of sorts forged in the early 2000s DC D.I.Y./punk realm, The Casual Dots is comprised of Christina Billotte (Slant 6, Quix*o*tic, Autoclave) on vocals and guitar, Kathi Wilcox (Bikini Kill, Frumpies) on guitar and backing vocals, and Steve Dore (Snoozers, Deep Lust) on drums. Produced by Guy Picciotto of Fugazi, the album’s 10 songs were written and recorded between 2004 and 2019. Their sound remains delightfully quirky, minimalist pop music shaped by ‘60s-style drum beats, intersecting punk guitars, and Billotte’s strong yet sweet vocal stylings. “The Frequency of Fear,” written and recorded in January 2016, seems to foretell what was to come, politically and socially (“Placating fear with power and greed / Never satisfies fear / Never satisfies need / You must remember”). Other tracks, like the haunting “Descending,” pull from painful personal memories past (“Feelings lie, they don’t go away / Music from another time, delayed”). There is a timelessness to these songs and, with that, a sense of urgency: for the events which are still to come, and for the time that continues to slip away. —Mary Beth Campbell
Looking at this neon-clad giraffe of a human, you’d never guess that you were in the presence of a funk master, but Louis Cole can hold his own against the greats. On Quality Over Opinion, Cole lays down heavy grooves on drums, keys, and bass, topped with delicate falsetto vocals that showcase his particular brand of quirky, ironic lyrics (“I do my part / I fight for shit / equal rights for male angler fish”). With Ben Folds-esque charm and arrangement ambition, Cole could be looking at a lifetime of cult hits—that is not to say, however, that every track on this dancey, orchestral space odyssey is a winner. Indulgently overlong, clocking in at 70 minutes, Quality Over Opinion could have benefited from some stern production cuts. On “I’m Tight” he croons, “Thoughts like this, they come to me / I like these thoughts, I let them be” and the album reads that way, jumping from pop-funk tune to instrumental piece to a heavy dubstep song called “Let Me Snack” to a lighthearted acoustic tune called “Forgetting.” If you’ve never listened to Louis Cole, allow yourself to be persuaded by Thundercat’s virtuosic car chase of a song, “I Love Louis Cole,” and give the infectiously funky “Dead Inside Shuffle” a spin. —Sabrina Stone
“For The Wicked” strikes gold on several levels. Jay “J-Zone” Mumford’s drums are absolutely enormous and Julius Augustus holds down the rest of the solid groove on the bass. Dan Hastie’s organ weaves in and out of the ghostly backing vocals masterfully. The track has old skool West Coast hip-hop vibes, which makes sense, as Rakaa Iriscience is old skool West Coast hip-hop (Remember Dilated Peoples?!). Professor Shorthair’s b-side remix brings individual instruments to the front in a way that gives each one extra punch and weight, so as you flip the 7” back and forth, one side illuminates the other. Once you’ve settled into the track, lyrics pop out: “Bulbancha: many tongues translating the facts.” This is an artful New Orleans history lesson, à la 79rs Gang—“Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau laying visions out / Helping families and community, even business out / The black magic of black magic / Spells and amulets / The Gris Gris / The offerings made.” It’s a tale of vengeance, where every word is meaningful, and yes, much is done in Cajun French. “For The Wicked” would not exist without the excellent Dan Ubick (a.k.a. Connie Price). If you listen hard, you can hear that extra texture of Steve McCormick on dobro and, of course, just for frosting on top, the recording was mastered by Dave Cooley (J Dilla, Madlib). —Sabrina Stone
Tacoma, Washington band Enumclaw have declared themselves the best band since Oasis. This confidence is not unwarranted—since their formation in July 2019, the four-piece (named for the small city that is the gateway to Mount Rainier) has been gaining buzz not only in the rejuvenated Seattle–Tacoma music scene but across the Atlantic as well. Save the Baby, their full-length debut, is a solid set of fuzzy, guitar-heavy grunge-pop anthems. In addition to Oasis and other Britpop stalwarts, the band’s influences include hip-hop (frontman Aramis Johnson was active in the Tacoma hip-hop scene before forming the band), pop, and, perhaps unavoidably, the Seattle grunge scene of the 1990s. Amidst the bravado and guitar rock heroics, there is a lot of vulnerability to the songs on Save the Baby. On “Park Lodge,” Johnson processes the loss of his father as a child and the struggles he and his family faced (“You don’t know what it’s like / To watch your mother sleep on a couch / I had to change my life”). Other standout tracks include “2002” and “Jimmy Neutron.” The album’s through line is the desire to escape from cyclical trauma and achieve greatness. Aside from the self-comparisons to the Gallagher brothers, there is no posturing on Save the Baby; these are working-class anthems which inspire joy and reflection about one’s own sense of self and place. —Mary Beth Campbell
This collaboration between Baton Rouge musicians Hal Lambert and Mitchell Mobley captures a lot of the angst of early pandemic days. Recorded over a weekend in the fall of 2020, this cathartic, experimental record weighs heavy with a sense of built-up frustration and general yearning for any kind of release. Rat Tattoo is a challenging yet rewarding listen that fuses the abrasive nature of noise music (“Prisoners“) with the feedback-laden repetition of more out-there psychedelic rock (“Warm Gin”). Lambert feels like the driving force behind this collaboration with his eccentric guitar playing and layers of loops, while Mobley’s minimal yet solid drumming grounds these pieces from going too far into outer space. Rat Tattoo and a recent video of the duo performing new improvisations on Baton Rouge college radio station KLSU both serve as great reminders that Louisiana holds a lot of captivating underground music beyond the bounds of New Orleans. —William Archambeault
Though it won’t go down as her most memorable work, there’s plenty to like about MATA, the sixth album from Maya Arulpragasam (or, as the world has known her since she stormed on the scene in the early 2000s: M.I.A.). You’ll find it easy enough to bop around to her proprietary blend of hip-hop, electronica, and traditional Tamil sounds—with quality production from respected names like Diplo, Rick Rubin, Pharrell Williams, and Skrillex, to name a few. There are some curveballs, like the stripped-down “100% Sustainable”—a lo-fi, analog, almost spoken-word piece over what we can presume to be live Tamil singers and hand-clappers, as she signs off with, “This is 100% organic / Human made, with care / No pestibeats.” Her most recent single “Beep” marks a high point (“I can’t please everyone, I’ma let it beep, beep, beep!” is almost too fun to sing along to); but even so, it’s hard to see it launching the album and M.I.A. into the zeitgeist like “Galang” and “Paper Planes” did for her earlier albums. And maybe she’s fine with that, but she spends a lot of time on the album seemingly on the defensive: “Censor me ‘cause you can’t make sense of me” (from “Energy Freq”); “Cut my losses, ball and chain / I don’t want no fakes speaking my name” (from “K.T.P. (Keep The Peace)”). MATA itself, especially in the mouth of one who might drop their R’s, sounds a lot like “martyr,” and the recently-declared born-again Christian M.I.A. graces its cover in a makeshift crown of thorns. Perhaps the years in the public eye as M.I.A., often flecked with controversy over the provocative content of her music or her Twitter behavior, have begun to wear on Maya. —Angela Calonder
Like all of us, the members of Missing have grown and suffered in varying ways over the course of the pandemic. The local goths’ new EP Omenbringer puts those transformative emotions on display. Tracks like “Victorian Funeral” and “Shades of Winter” are downers in the best sense of the word. This batch of songs feels more contemplative and less dancefloor oriented than their pre-pandemic debut album The Miserablist. Significant personnel changes since those 2019 sessions yielded a two-guitar configuration that adds a much welcomed depth to the group’s oblique songs. Omenbringer’s title track embraces the hypnotic repetition of guitars steeped in post-punk and shoegaze textures. Missing’s songs are also considerably longer this go-around, giving their music more room to breathe and explore the emotional depth that serves as the core of their sound. From start to finish, Omenbringer serves as a beautiful reflection of just how far we have all come in recent years of anguish and hardship. —William Archambeault
Destruction of, Vol. 1, the latest EP from New Orleans band People Museum, is an intimate and dreamy collection of songs inspired by the works of French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. Over the eight decades of her career, Bourgeois—best known for her large-scale installations and sculptures—explored personal themes of trauma, sexuality, gender, and family through her art. Vocalist Claire Givens was inspired by Bourgeois’ work last year. Fortuitously, the band was selected for the 2021-2022 New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) Creative Assembly, and Givens’ songs became Destruction Of, Vol. 1 (inspired by Bourgeois’ 1974 installation “The Destruction of the Father”). According to Givens, the album title “is like a negative image, but also could be destruction of how we’ve communicated for the past 30 years… let’s break down how comfortable we’ve been as a family in communication in a certain way, and now we can be adults together and grow.” The songs on the EP are rich and complex and find Givens and bandmate Jeremy Phipps exploring family and home in homage to Bourgeois. People Museum’s unique sound—electro dream pop with New Orleans brass elements—takes on a darker, moodier tone across the EP, keeping with the themes and art which inspired it. There is a beautiful sense of discomfort in these songs, which leave a moving and indelible impression long after the last notes have ended. (People Museum will be performing the songs from Destruction of, Vol. 1 under the Bourgeois spider sculpture in the NOMA sculpture garden on Sunday, December 4.) —Mary Beth Campbell
Instead of wallowing in the misery of a recent divorce, singer/songwriter Daphne Parker Powell leans into heartache on her skillfully crafted and cathartic sixth album, The Starter Wife. Now living in New Orleans, the Connecticut native’s vintage folk ballads showcase her prowess as a storyteller and allow just enough space for self-reflection in the wake of the destruction of her brutal marriage. On the track “Sentimental Pessimism (Part 1)” Powell acknowledges her downfall—“Leave it to me to imprison myself with my freedom / Leave it to me to drag demons kicking and screaming / To the gates of heaven / And expect to be let in.” Later, on “Murderer’s Row,” Powell owns her actions, singing, “I have been the poison / But I couldn’t be the cure / And for whatever reason / You’ve never asked for any more.” Powell’s compositions feel larger than life thanks to her emotional vocals and instrumentals featuring the symphonic stylings of accomplished violinist Kieran Ledwidge. The Starter Wife is more than a therapeutic journey through grief; it’s an 11-track nod to the solace that often precedes liberation. —Shirani Jayasuriya
This demo is 11 minutes of local crusty hardcore executed with plenty of attitude. Sodomite first came to my attention when I saw social media clips of their fiery set opening for rising punk flag bearers Soul Glo at Siberia. Another clip of a post-puppet parade DIY show captures the band performing outdoors next to a sizable flame and hoards of sweaty heathens running into each other with puppets in hand. This demo doesn’t captivate me quite as much as that vibrant live footage, which showcases the band’s ability to play with the type of agency that calls for the very downfall of civilization. These grimy demo recordings, made by their drummer True in a warehouse, are raw punk with a real emphasis on the raw. As such, they hint more at the band’s potential rather than creating a definitive document of the band’s catharsis. Thick distorted bass often overpowers the guitars on these five songs for a sound steeped in crud. Vocals that recall the pent-up anger and anxieties of Dystopia fit well with Sodomite’s oppressive sound. —William Archambeault
After a busy two-and-a-half years as New Orleans’ noisemaker galore Shitload, Bobby Bergeron is back with a real band playing punk music again. This time around, the Paranoize zine head honcho has teamed up with his former A Hanging drummer Billy Bones and past members from local horror punk mainstays The Pallbearers and deceased hardcore group AR-15. If any of those names mean anything to you then you probably already know what to expect from this demo. These four songs are the type of gnarly throwback hardcore punk that made the members’ past bands staples in the New Orleans underground scene. On opener “Nailed To Your Southern Cross,” vocalist Dave Boss plots his gory revenge against backwards, conservative Southern Christians. Mosh-worthy, speedy guitar chugging soundtracks his exploits as he threatens to feed them to the dogs. Nothing about this demo feels earth-shatteringly new, but that isn’t the point of this band. Like their previous groups, What A Waste is an attempt at keeping the angsty music that defined their formative years alive in New Orleans. —William Archambeault
Business! continues Louie Zong’s streak as a ridiculously prolific internet musician with a knack for bizarrely themed albums. This year alone, he’s already self-released the soundtrack for an imaginary ‘90s cartoon (funky friends), re-imagined Animal Crossing tunes in the style of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (K.K. Gizzard), and even made an album entirely using the 2008 Nintendo DS game WarioWare D.I.Y. (garlic jam). He aptly describes Business!, his latest release at the time of writing, as “a library of cheesy retro corporate music.” While most musicians would probably balk at such a label, Zong embraces it. He leans hard into keyboard sounds that might have felt futuristic decades ago (“Calcutron 8000!”), cliché sax melodies (“Close the Deal!”), and dated smooth bass lines (“Computer Lounge!”). He even employs the vibraslap on “The Big Conference!” to great effect.Throughout it all, Zong manages to turn this business project into something that is actually quite fun. For instance, it’s hard not to bop my head to the self-admittedly tacky jazz fusion of “Groovy Graphs! (A).” This may be Zong’s attempt at “corporate music” but it feels far more human than the cold material that inspired this endeavor. —William Archambeault
In late September, local label Strange Daisy dropped another batch of spooky Halloween beats from the ever mysterious Haunted House Party. Haunting season may technically be over but there is still a lot of fun to be had with these vibed-out instrumentals. Monster’s Delight follows a similar layout as the project’s self-titled debut, leaning on the type of offbeat, sample-heavy production that made MF DOOM a worldwide villain. Much like the way DOOM hid behind a mask, little is known about the mysterious figure(s) behind these beats. Sinister song titles like “tombstoned,” “creature feature,” and “howl at tha moon” give you a pretty good idea of what to expect. Some may argue that this is the type of seasonal music that should be discarded once you flip the calendar page to November; I’d counter that this record’s appeal is more like Halloween candy post-October. Throw on this record and you can have a Haunted House Party of your own any time of year. —William Archambeault
As the authors document, the consulting firm McKinsey has had ties to enough scandals over the past few decades that if this were a work of fiction, it would be over the top. McKinsey advised OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma on how to sell more of its addictive drug, suggested to tobacco companies how to sell more of theirs, created a report highlighting prominent Saudi dissidents shortly before journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, guided privatizations in post-Thatcher Britain, partied in the Chinese region of Xinjiang a few miles from an internment camp, and suggested ICE cut spending on food for detained migrants. The engaging reporting by two New York Times investigative journalists is beyond scrupulous, including indicating when McKinsey only loosely links to some debacle or when the firm objected to their characterizations. What is lacking is a sense of the people involved: When consultants or customers are mentioned by name, there’s little more than a quick sketch of who they are. Their interchangeability might be significant to deeper understanding, with McKinsey often seemingly brought in not because it has a pool of extraordinary geniuses, but rather to give cynical but obvious advice. But such questions will have to wait for another book, since the authors stick purely to the facts and don’t even dip a toe into any theories that might explain McKinsey’s role in the world. —Steven Melendez
Political cartoons are by nature often pedantic, more often boring, and at worst indecipherable. These things are designed to elicit a simple response after reading, to spur a metaphorical pump or shake of the fist at the cartoon’s obtuse subject matter. Keith Knight has fully infused his personality into his work, and this allows him to surpass the fuddy-duddy cartoonists of yore in Good On Both Sides, the newest paperback collection of (Th)ink, an often one-panel political cartoon that feels autobiographical and frequently leaves the reader feeling smarter, more humble, sometimes uncomfortable—but always engaged. One strip shows an angry man, after demanding that a ticket-seller allow him entry to the advertised Women’s Only “Free Screening Today,” recoiling in terror after he learns the event is for free pap smears. A recurring format Knight gets a lot of mileage out of is the quote cartoon, which predates the pseudo-inspirational memes made infamous in Facebook feeds everywhere. In these, Knight highlights a worthy individual with a portrait and an actual quote of theirs you may have never heard—one features W.E.B. Du Bois stating, among other things, “Ignorance is a cure for nothing.” I had no idea W.E.B. stood for William Edward Burghardt, nor was I aware that German Neo-Nazis have taken to flying the Confederate Flag as a replacement for the banned-in-Germany swastika, but these are the sort of Fun Facts the cartoonist feels you should know. Knight’s name is surely recognized by local readers—(Th)ink and/or The K Chronicles have appeared in ANTIGRAVITY since issue #1; and in 2021 his art appeared on a poster for Susan Hutson‘s campaign for Orleans Parish Sheriff. As the title alludes, Good On Both Sides contains a lot of Trump material and, if you’re not a fan of the “Dotard-in-Chief,” there are plenty of fist pumps ahead. If you’re a supporter, the recreation of his famous John Hancock with the question “What do you see in this picture? A: The 45th President’s Signature or B: Klan Rally” may rankle, but you may also unexpectedly find inspiration in Thelonious Sphere Monk (points if you knew his middle name was Sphere) saying “Sometimes it’s to your advantage for people to think you’re crazy.” —Leo McGovern
Doctor Strange’s academy for students of the mystic arts faces an ancient evil in New Orleans who is willing to prey on children. While Doctor Strange is deceased in Strange Academy issues 13 to 18, an entity known as Gaslamp thwarts educator Doctor Voodoo and his students through mystical wish dealing. The tall, dark figure makes bargains based on customers receiving magical upgrades in return. Gaslamp’s deals in New Orleans even tango with the Marvel Universe’s descendant of the legendary Marie Laveau, the zombified Zoe Laveau of Strange Academy. The teens of Strange Academy are haunted by events like a New Orleans graveyard tour, Gaslamp’s plotting on the youth, dark fortune telling of the future, and typical unstable control over students’ magical powers. The city of New Orleans is artist Humberto Ramos’ canvas for students getting into trouble due to their own delusions of grandeur, inside and outside of school. Writer Skottie Young weaves an information network inside the city that features all types of people, whether it’s the evil Gaslamp, French Quarter shopkeepers, old lady fortune tellers, or magic users like Doctor Voodoo that the students find themselves connected to in their life journey. New Orleans brings them all together in dangerous circumstances. Like Gaslamp dealing wishes on the streets and alleys, New Orleans itself has an enormous influence over the book’s main characters, misguided youth. The scenarios that unfold echo emotional teen drama, but a nice balance is struck with the stakes escalating further into the darkness, despite Doctor Voodoo providing protection. —Jamal Melancon
“Requiem for a Stranger” is the brainchild of the CAC Artists in Residence Renee Benson, Jennfier Sargent, and Vagabond Inventions1The print edition of this review does not include Jennfier Sargent or Vagabond Inventions; ANTIGRAVITY regrets the error. and the culmination of the institution’s year-long series of community events and workshops, “The Gorgeous Offerings.” An experimental performance combining music and movement, the collaboration between Benson and the movement group Vagabond Inventions is an exploratory meditation on, in the words of its creators, “the heartspace of grief and loss.” Benson is a phenomenal vocal artist, fluent in a variety of musical styles, so this was a great opportunity to watch her play. From guttural crooning, vocal looping, and sky-high cries to what can only be described as a hyperventilation aria, Benson brought new meaning to the concept of vocal range. Her stranger sounds were offset by some truly gorgeous singing which she delivered with the intensity of an opera star. Taken together, the mixture of vocal stylings brought the audience on a journey through the world of grief before delivering us gently to a kinder shore. The movement aspect complimented this journey nicely; the dancers of Vagabond Inventions added layers of texture and narrative complexity. But it was Benson, from her vocals to her undeniable stage presence, that carried the performance and ushered the audience into its expanse of feeling. Leaving the theater having grieved and healed alongside her felt like undergoing a kind of purification—the perfect end to a CAC series designed to “support healing from the ruptures of the COVID-19 pandemic.” —Holly Devon
Discussing history with those who aren’t quite so obsessed with it as I am has shown me how rarely people imagine it happening to living, breathing individuals like themselves. And who can blame them? History gets taught to us flat, a compressed series of dull facts that we are forced to memorize and regurgitate without ever being given a chance to recognize ourselves in these stories. This is a particularly unfortunate state of affairs in New Orleans, whose labyrinthine history rivals far more ancient cities in its intrigue and power, and within which hides the keys to our modern collective identity.
Fortunately, help is on the way thanks to a spectacular immersive play called The Family Line. Set in 1892, the play concerns the New Orleans General Strike—one of the greatest racially integrated labor successes in American history—and offers the audience a choose-your-own-adventure meander through the back rooms and courtyard of the Beauregard-Keyes House. These rooms are the same ones which were once rented out to working class French Quarter residents like those featured in The Family Line, and it is astonishing how thoroughly you are transported to their world, one where Sicilian, Black, and Creole-speaking people lived together in a tightly-woven social fabric.
The history of late 19th century New Orleans is a painful one; the community The Family Line allows you to become part of was under constant threat from the forces of capitalism and white supremacy. For decades prior, white terrorists unleashed terrible violence all across the state to roll back the Black political gains of Reconstruction and establish their iron grip over the Louisiana government. But as this play shows you, New Orleanians never took this lying down. During the General Strike, 30,000 people, led by a triple alliance of racially integrated unions, refused to work. They shut down commerce all over the city, and resisted a unified newspaper campaign to sow racial hatred among the strikers. When the militia was sent in under the order of the white supremacist governor to bear down on the supposed mob, they found an orderly, united working class who didn’t need violence to articulate their demands, many of which were met in short order.
The Family Line does not seek to tell you a complete history of this strike; pieces of the bigger picture come through in snatches of dialogue and impassioned speeches by those characters agitating for a better world. But the focus on the intricate details of daily life amidst the weather patterns of history is where its genius lies—the dialogue never forces facts down your throat. Instead, you are asked to observe the deep, emotional ties of unique individuals deciding how to meet their historical moment. The actors, who all participated in writing the script and forming their characters, are so good at ignoring their audience that soon you begin to feel like a ghost in another century, your flesh and blood disappearing into the walls as you inhabit these past memories. It is heart-wrenching to exit the cozy warren of rooms and re-enter the modern French Quarter populated by Mardi Gras bead-bedecked tourists, knowing you are leaving behind wise, passionate people who you have come to love, and whose struggle you will surely want to carry on. (The Family Line runs until November 20.) —Holly Devon