100 GECS
10,000 GECS

100 gecs are back and they’re still weird as hell. The sophomore slump is a serious fear for any group, especially when that second album is a debut on Atlantic Records. Thankfully, 100 gecs don’t deviate too far from their experimental take on hyperpop, despite the influx of major label cash. 10,000 gecs feels like a late night YouTube poop fever dream with the duo borrowing from disparate genres to create a type of chaos distinctly their own. For instance, “I Got My Tooth Removed” bounces back and forth between upbeat ska guitar and breakup ballad croons in a way that could only make sense on a 100 gecs cut. On single “Doritos & Fritos,” the duo sound like Primus for the TikTok generation, if Primus chugged an entire case of energy drinks before furiously slapping bass until blacking out. On the eerie dubstep song “One Million Dollars,” they loop a TikTok text-to-voice feature repeating the catchphrase “One million dollars” for an obnoxious length of time. In fact, much of 10,000 gecs is objectively obnoxious, but that’s exactly Laura Les and Dylan Brady’s intention. 100 gecs are part of a long lineage of absurdist pop music that includes Ween, The Residents, and Devo. Like those popular yet polarizing groups that came before them, 100 gecs are making their mark on music regardless of if you love them or hate them. —William Archambeault


At his live shows, New Orleans-based rapper, singer, and Fourth Eye Tribe member The Adoni performs with an energy full of duality, from bounding and energetic to bare and soulful. That personality courses through his newest album, Too Many Vices (set to release April 6), which veers from smooth, alternative R&B to boisterous rap to something like pop industrial. Opening track “Innocence” begins with an ethereal soundscape replete with lush vocal harmonies before lapsing into a danceable drum rhythm over which The Adoni and guest Johan Lenox trade silky vocal melodies until the track is carried out by layers of supple violin. The song is followed by “SPRING OR SPRUNG”—released in February as the album’s first single—in which The Adoni explores his experience of budding success and his struggle to battle the distractions—the vices—that abound in New Orleans, all while prioritizing personal growth over others’ expectations (“I’m tryna live a beautiful life that I never had / Whole time bitches say I changed and I hope I had”). While the artist’s frenetic energy, crooning autotune vocals, and punchy rapping are consistent with his previous works, one notable development from his past projects—Addi VICE (2018) and Quarantine Fever Dreams (2020)—is his use of rhythm: In Too Many Vices, The Adoni incorporates elements of African and South American drum styles into the beat palette, which merge with the album’s glitzy production for a sonic tapestry that feels like an ode to those cultures’ indelible imprint on the sounds and styles of New Orleans. —Zane Piontek


It’s difficult to top Daikaiju’s reputation as a fiery live band. Over the past two decades, masked members have literally set fire to an incalculable number of dive bars across the U.S. while playing their turbocharged guitar-centric instrumentals. The Alabama surf rockers are true road warriors, but their recorded output has been sparse since dropping their last album, Phase 2, in 2010. Thankfully, their third album, Phase 3, is worth the wait. The band tears through songs like “Spiral Serpent Strike” and “Cock Lobster” at a pace that feels like they’ve been chugging jet fuel, putting most so-called speedy metal bands to shame. This isn’t your grandpa’s surf rock record. Even when the band slows down at moments on tracks like “Awakening the Gateway” and “Ten Thousand Years of Twilight,” they still manage to make surf rock sound vital by diving deep into psychedelic post-rock terrains. Throughout it all, Daikaiju bears the power and vigor that have made them staples of dive bar touring circuits for over two decades. If this is how powerful Daikaiju is at Phase 3, I have serious concerns about everyone’s safety if they reach Phase 4. —William Archambeault


Just months after releasing their sophomore album, Stumpwork, UK art school post-punk darlings Dry Cleaning have unleashed the Swampy EP onto the airwaves. Titular track “Swampy” is classic Dry Cleaning, driven by guitars and vocalist Florence Shaw’s hypnotic spoken intonations of Dada-esque non-sequiturs (“Look, contact me for all kinds of spells / Bring bags of smashings / Then we’ll cast in concrete”). “Sombre Two” is a gorgeous, desolate, jazz-infused instrumental that could perfectly soundtrack a psychedelic Western. The remix of “Hot Penny Day” by Stumpwork tourmates Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul is an utter jam, a sketchy, beat-driven reimagining of the source material. The remix of “Gary Ashby” by their other tourmate Nourished By Time does not deviate too much from the original, though it does include Nourished By Time’s velvety R&B vocal stylings. The album ends with a demo version of “Peanuts,” a saxophone-driven number that, though only a minute-and-33 seconds in length, has a lot of depth. The Swampy EP should not be written off as merely an extension of Stumpwork; though a continuation of that album, it also offers a further glimpse into Dry Cleaning’s musical depths, and perhaps what is to come next from this band. —Mary Beth Campbell


Kimbra’s world tour stopped at the New Orleans House of Blues this month and the audience was packed with local musicians. She gave a hell of a show—her new album indicated that she would. Titling it A Reckoning and self-releasing it after spending over a decade under the Warner Music umbrella were two strong indications that Kimbra had something big to say here. On stage, she came off as aggravated but invigorated. The album’s opening track, “save me,” is enormous. It’s a power ballad with all the stops pulled out: gorgeous voice, huge range, massive effects, slow pace, jangly bits, string section, eerie harmonies. Track two, “replay!” is an immediate departure—dancy, disturbing, and replayable. Kimbra spans many genres on A Reckoning—some more deftly than others. The rapping on “la type” and “GLT” feels awkward, though the funk, R&B vibes of “personal space” and “new habit” have a Janelle Monae sort of flow and ease. “gun” could easily be mistaken for the new P!nk single; it’ll be interesting to see if the song gets the radioplay it deserves without the backing of a big label. Live, Kimbra dug back into the archives to deconstruct and reinvent her debut single from 2010, “Settle Down.” She played it to please us but she found new life in the looping and reconfiguring. It’s always a pleasant surprise when a ballad is the highpoint of a concert, and Kimbra’s solo acoustic guitar version of “foolish thinking,” a song she wrote for her future daughter about hoping to spare her from the pain of her own experiences—while knowing that isn’t her place—had us all enraptured. The album version of the song is equally hypnotic. Even the tracks that aren’t as strong on A Reckoning were powerful live. At age 32, New Zealand native Kimbra Lee Johnson seems to be finding her independence and strength. —Sabrina Stone


The first thing you notice are the spaces. Laura Fisher’s latest album is striking in its very sparseness, a series of moody musical sketches that compel you to listen closely to the subtle turns, changes, and color notes. The album, recorded at Marigny Studios, was written in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, and the sense of confusion and ennui that colored that period course through every note and measure. Fisher accomplishes this in large part through an acute understanding of tension and release, both in her unornamented piano work and in her precise, agile vocals. The local musicians she enlisted to fill some of those spaces clearly grasp the context just as well. The opening track, “(Dreams) Didn’t Let Up,” comprises a subtle, almost timid progression of piano chords that accompany Fisher’s voice as she relates a series of melodic variations on the repeating lyrics, “I slept for two days straight, and the dreams didn’t let up.” Toward the end, Jeremy Phipps’ somber trombone carries the track to its quiet finish. Like many others on the album, that song has an almost ritual sound, possessing the aspect of an old-world folk ballad—and why not, because the pandemic certainly made time and place feel a little more liquid. Underscoring the whole album is a distinctly intimate atmosphere: You feel close to every instrument and at times you can even hear the faint, brushy thump of the sustain pedal when Fisher switches chords. It puts you right there in the room with the artists, listening intently as they try to cope with it all. —Zane Piontek


MSPAINT’s cybernetic hardcore is the very sound of society collapsing and being reborn anew. On their debut album Post-American, the Hattiesburg, MS band trades punk’s typical guitar crunch for the invigorating juxtaposition of atmospheric synths and some of the most fuzzed out bass guitar I’ve ever heard in my life. Songs likeDecapitated Reality show a band capable of conjuring absolute chaos at any given moment while also stepping back and embracing tranquility. Singer Deedee acts as a powerful guiding voice throughout the album, whether furiously chanting on Acidor getting contemplative on “Free From the Sun.” Post-American sports a couple of guest spots from members of rising punk flag bearers Soul Glo and Militarie Gun, but the core of this album is MSPAINT’s unbudging determination to make their own path. They completely disregard the rigid boundaries that are far too common in punk and instead borrow heavily from electronic and hip-hop influences to sculpt a sound that is truly their own. MSPAINT set high expectations with their 2020 demo on Earth Girl Tapes, and Post-American, released only a few days shy of the tape’s third anniversary, crushes them completely. The future looks bright for MSPAINT’s Post-American world. —William Archambeault


An assured plucking of bass strings, a sonorous coo of the saxophone, mellow tinkling arpeggios from the keyboard, and drums all shimmering sound merge in “Three Of A Kind,” the opening track of Saturn Quartet’s second album. Its melody settles lightly, a gentle stirring for a spontaneous adventure. And so it is. On bassist Robin Sherman’s “Told You,” a clarifying sax summons its title’s very sentiment in a friendly debate with an insistently attentive piano. “Wild Is The Wind” is rendered as a love offering to Nina Simone’s anguished interpretation, tempered by a reverence for musical creation itself. Soothing, hopeful sounds lean into our historic dimness, yet find the heat to go on. “Luz” is a conversion more than a cover, in which the Brazilian pop classic is staked and claimed for jazz. “Hollow Man” orbits weightlessly, even amidst some discordant, occasionally anxious moments. Everyone’s playing their hearts out, but with the lightest of touches. Henry Mancini’s TV show score, “Mr. Lucky,” sounds like a lively jaunt around an aleatory world where randomly fun things can happen, and often do; drummer Gerald Watkins Jr. drives the exuberance with precision high-impact percussion in unexpected places. “Ben” is Brendan Polk’s homage to his mentor, Savannah, Georgia bassist Ben Tucker, in which the quartet lovingly swings his spirit of innovation all over the intimate candlelit club it feels like you’re hearing it in. Ricardo Pascal wrote “Mitsuda” in tribute to video game soundtrack composer Yasunori Mitsuda, best known for the Chrono series. The tune is sweet and dreamy, the sound curling around your ear before sliding in as if whispering go on, brave ones, go on and save this beautiful world. —Frances Madeson


U.S. Girls, the project of Toronto-based experimental musician Meg Remy, has evolved over the years from fuzzed out, lo-fi noise rock to art pop and now, with Bless This Mess, to a synth-drenched amalgamation of R&B, disco, and funk. As with U.S. Girls’ previous releases, Bless This Mess explores the complexities and tragedies of the world, never flinching from biting social commentary. However, Remy also seems to be searching for a silver lining via these songs, using the beauty of music to try to find a sense of purpose amongst our harsh reality (“Bless This Mess”: “Thank the sky for the deluge / Forget your nightmares and the dreams that didn’t come true”). Opening track “Only Daedalus” is a sexy, funky track that explores the hubris of technocrats through the ancient Greek myth of Daedalus (“You can chain whatever you want to the wall / Yet Icarus will fall / That boy will always fall”). “So Typically Now,” the album’s first single, is a searing takedown of pandemic-era urban flight and the current housing market with an electro-house beat (“Traitors with loans, they run this show / So you sold off your condo / You’re shutting it down, they’re drawing it out / You always get what you want though”). Not centered around one particular narrative, the album also veers into the personal, with Remy exploring the complex feelings and realities of new motherhood (“Pump” and “St. James Way”). Bless This Mess manages to strike the balance between existential angst and hope, softening the sorrow and amplifying the joy with glossy dance grooves. —Mary Beth Campbell


Employing acclaimed hip-hop/rap producer Noah Goldstein and guitar rock/shoegaze pioneer Alan Moulder, Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds), the latest full-length from art-rocker Yves Tumor, is a sensuous musical landscape where alt-rock coalesces with R&B. Yves Tumor is known for being meticulous in their production and attention to sensory detail, and this album finds them at the height of their skills. Opening track “God Is a Circle” builds off of the goth-rock of their 2021 release, The Asymptotical World EP. From there, the album builds upon itself. “Meteora Blues” invokes Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadnessera Smashing Pumpkins in its sweltering guitar riffs, with shoegaze vibes and swoon-worthy lyrics to round it out (“Stare straight into the morning star / With lips just like red flower petals”). On “Operator,” Yves Tumor channels Prince’s vocals to almost eerie perfection against a frantic and synth-based backdrop. The final track, the lush and otherworldly “Ebony Eye,” is the culmination of Yves Tumor’s ambitious and almost spiritual musical vision (“There’s no cause for shame / I’m paralyzed, a glowing life / Our beloved saint”). Praise A Lord… is, simply put, a full-sensory music experience. (Yves Tumor will be performing in New Orleans at the Joy Theater on Monday, May 1st.) —Mary Beth Campbell


Zulu is unapologetically Black powerviolence. The Los Angeles band juxtaposes crushing Hardcore (the type with a real emphasis on the capital H) with emotive meditations on both self and society. Zulu’s first full-length, A New Tomorrow, is one of the most urgent sounding punk albums in recent memory. The band tears through tracks like anti-racial injustice cut “52 Fatal Strikes” with absolute fury. While most of A New Tomorrow is dedicated to guttural screams and nasty breakdowns, Zulu also incorporates other styles to great impact. Spliced in soul and reggae samples focused on defiance and uplifting Black voices occasionally pop up, serving as palette cleansers for the band’s harsher sounds. From time to time, the group also welcomes spiritual jazz (“Africa”), rap (“We’re More Than This”), and laid back funk (“Shine Eternally”) into their sound. “Crème de Cassis,” a piece by poet Aleisia Miller and pianist Precious Tucker, serves as the most powerful divergence from the pummeling guitars. In a minute-and-a-half, Miller’s poem makes clear most of the messages buried beneath Zulu’s sometimes undecipherable screams. As she puts it, “Why must I only share our struggle / When our Blackness is so much more?” before asking “Why is Black discourse always about precipitation while ignoring the sweet scent of petrichor after rain?—William Archambeault


New Order’s “Blue Monday” remains the bestselling 12” single of all time. Originally released on March 7, 1983, it’s been remixed, re-released, and sampled in over 40 songs, itself having sampled Kraftwerk and including an Ennio Morricone guitar refrain. The band’s far-reaching fusion of synth, electronic keyboards and programming, guitar, bass, drums (including the early DMX machine), and Bernard Sumner’s signature vocals informed post-punk, new wave, electronica, dance, and synth-pop realms from early on. So if you wax a little nostalgic over their music, it’s OK. Playing to a packed house at the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans on March 18 as part of a brief tour, New Order performed highlights from their extensive catalog with dreamy video-scapes behind them. Synth artist Zachery Allan Starkey opened the show and featured his collaboration with Sumner. Pairing the expansive sound of the Orpheum’s acoustic shell and open dance floor (via an adjustable orchestra section) with optimized bass frequencies courtesy of the band’s sound tech team, the theater was transformed into a container of joy, memory, discovery, and reunion among strangers. The optimism and drama of songs like “Age of Consent,” “Be a Rebel,” “The Perfect Kiss,” and of course “Blue Monday,” among others, incited many sing-alongs. Vintage, disintegrated, and slowed-down video loops of deceased Joy Division singer Ian Curtis were projected as the literal and poetic backdrop to the band’s dark post-punk hits “Decades” and “Transmission.” Joy Division’s upbeat “Love Will Tear Us Apart” closed the show, returning to the high of the evening’s energy. —Veronica Cross (photo by Tamara Grayson)


Bone Music delves into the postwar Soviet phenomenon of recording music on used X-ray film. The practice, explains this gorgeously illustrated and designed book, may have originated in 1930s Hungary, when audio enthusiasts experimenting with cheap home recording settled on the surprising medium (Some radio broadcasts of composer-musician Béla Bartók playing piano only survive through fans’ X-ray recordings). But in the Cold War USSR, X-rays discarded from hospitals and turned into records with DIY lathes—often with bones still visible—became a vital means of sharing music banned by Soviet authorities, from Western jazz and rock to censored Eastern European artists like crooner Pyotr Leshchenko. A mix of oral history, straight narrative, and pages of extraordinary photos, Bone Music explores the networks of devoted fans, pirate groups like the Golden Dog Gang named in tribute to RCA Records‘ mascot Nipper, and underground merchants who peddled Louis Armstrong and Beatles bootlegs under the table at officially censored record stores, flea markets, and in nightclub restrooms. Vendors especially faced serious risks, from years-long prison sentences to the armed robberies common in illicit markets. Clearly a labor of love, Bone Music beautifully pays tribute to those who challenged Soviet censorship to share their joy in music. —Steven Melendez


Bosnian filmmaker Aida Begić’s A Ballad unfolds along the divide between the weighty obligations of adult life and the dreams that ballast one through it. The film centers on Meri (Marija Pikić), a 30-year-old woman who has returned home to live with her long-suffering mother and oafish brother following a thorny break with Hasan, her husband of 10 years and father to her daughter, Mila. The film’s plot derives in part from the 17th century South-Slovenian folk ballad, “Hasanaginica,” which tells of a woman forsaken by her husband and driven away from their home and children, ultimately dying of despair. The film scrutinizes and reworks the shadings and implications of the story, not without humor and irony. Whether it successfully resists the inevitable tragedy of the tale is hard to say—a question it almost seems to ask itself in the end. With Meri, Begić told Variety that she was “trying to show a woman who isn’t exactly strong – she is confused.” The film complicates the typical narrative of motherly duty. At first it appears Meri and her kin are united in the fight for custody over Mila. But as her options dwindle, she begins to detach from the responsibilities to which she is supposedly bound and gravitate toward the only thing that lifts her from the mire of her life: an audition for a film being produced in her neighborhood. A Ballad is intimate and incisive; it poses questions and demands contemplation without succumbing to ineffectual vagueness. It celebrates the resilience of the human desire for joy and freedom and interrogates the complex web of responsibilities and expectations that often smother it—a web that everyone must try their best to untangle, and which tends to wrap women like Meri a little tighter. (A Ballad will screen from April 15 through 30 for the Outgaze Film Festival, a free online film festival based in New Orleans.) —Zane Piontek


Ruth Owens shows paintings, works on paper, and a single channel video in her third solo exhibition at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery. Continuing to draw from personal and collective memory via family and shared photo and video references, Owens’ narrative portraits expand and privilege Black archives of representation, particularly in relation to nature. Portraits of family, friends, colleagues, and strangers are set in fields of flora and vegetal patterns. Owens’ employment of specific textile patterns is intentional and multifold, riffing on the upper class affect of William Morris textiles and referencing the dirndl of traditional German dress recalled from her childhood of German/African American ancestry. While a painting such as Summertime Girl (a childhood self-portrait, pictured above) transmits the lush and leisure of a pleasure garden, the protective Caucasian arm of her mother drapes cautiously over the young Owens. The brushwork appears as soft mosaics, Owens’ rendering of skin looks like the ways water refracts light. Water is another theme, seen in her doppelganger self-portrait bathers Deep End and her single channel video, Visitation, A Cosmogram in Four Movements. In the video, the horizontal split screen casts Owens below, moving through natural water as a spirit guide, signifying complex historical relationships between Black people and water. Personal and shared archival reels of Black leisure and labor at beaches and lakes play above, with a repeating scene of a baptism as a redemptive and protective communal act of care. (Entanglement: All Life Is Life” is on view through April 8.) —Veronica Cross


I knew not to expect a traditional theater production, but I wasn’t expecting poolboy to start on time, the initial dialogue audible as I entered the theater a few minutes after 8 p.m. on its opening night. Or was it starting? The show’s audience was dispersed, arranged in corner pockets around the space, where the action was beginning from the center within a large wooden octagonal installation created by Anderson Funk. The minimalist set was complemented by maximalist vulnerability from its two actors, director Sam Mayer and real-life friend Julia Mounsey, who took turns unfurling poignant and juicy tidbits from the vault of their friendship. While the seated confessional format was a direct nod to reality TV, poolboy’s stream of conscious subject matter was refreshing: a tally of the number of times they had seen each other cry or a reading from a tableside text, for example. Concurrent with the central conversation, there was an open invitation for audience members to participate by grabbing an instructional index card from a display wall and briefly sharing the spotlight to deliver a message from a hot seat positioned just outside the wooden beams. The actors’ antics, colorful graphics, and even audience surveillance was projected upon various walls. The audience was free to talk at whatever volume they pleased, so the night had the spontaneity of a happening with the well-oiled chemistry of the central players’ friendship. I could sense some feelings of uncertainty in audience members about if their delighted cross-talk and intermittent attentiveness was acceptable. The overstimulation was surely intentional, and the continual party vibe after the production wrapped demonstrated an anything-goes attitude meant to dissolve the line between actors and audience. Who needs narrative when a play ends with live tattooing? —Danny Unger

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