At the time of this writing, there is an onslaught of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation being introduced across the country, including in Louisiana. Though music alone is not going to stop the growing wave of fascism, it does have a role to play as both an expression of resistance and a source of comfort. This is something that Dog Park Dissidents, the queer anarcho-punk five-piece, based predominantly in New Orleans, understands very well. Their latest release, The Pink and Black Album, is the band’s catalog in one complete collection, celebrating queer resistance via rollicking pop punk, sharp wit, and anarchist punk energy: “Not gay as in happy, but queer as in fuck you.” The album’s 13 tracks understand that queer liberation is intersectional and intertwined with myriad issues, including rainbow capitalism (“Rainbow Drones), class struggle (“Class Struggle”), trans rights (“Pronouns,” “Trans Starship Feminist BDSM Paradise”), and immigration (“Refugees”). The Pink and Black Album is a musical manifesto, a call to action accompanied by guitars. In the words of lead singer Zac Xeper, “This is us ready to reach the whole world, to tell all the queer and trans people in the world who are watching all their hard-won safety and acceptance get chipped away by a resurgent right wing: you are not alone. You don’t have to hide.” (Dog Park Dissidents kick off their upcoming tour at Santos Bar on Saturday, June 17th.) —Mary Beth Campbell


As a musician, what could be called Laura Fisher’s identity seems to reside at a level far deeper than mere surface aesthetics. Her vocal tone and compositional style are fairly consistent and recognizable, but what makes her really knowable, even across the vast genre divide that separates her two most recent projects, is the palpable care she pours into her work. Fisher’s latest project, a five-song EP titled Rose-Coloured Dream (released May 19 on Strange Daisy Records) is a synth-laden dream pop journey that, though brief in run time, is the culmination of over a decade of work. Fisher has called it a companion to her previous release, the album In Name Only, for It Is Neither, which, unlike Rose, is spacious, subtle, and largely acoustic. But the impressive and even enigmatic thing is that they both sound definitively linked, even if what exactly forms that link is a little hard to pin down. The hum of synthesizers pulses through the whole of Rose-Coloured Dream, varying from soft and dreamy on the opening title track to ominous and baleful on the closing “Five Horses.” These electronic sounds, contributed by Fisher herself along with musicians Nick Elstrott, Claire Givens, and Adam Keil, lusciously enfold the singer’s distant and wispy vocals, while Jonathan Arceneaux’s crisp drumming lends the rhythmic framework that holds it all together. Even if the overall sound is new for the artist, the core elements of the album—the careful and rigorous composition, the wistful and longing tone both sonic and thematic—are distinctly recognizable, distinctly Laura Fisher. —Zane Piontek


Fauns‘ repetitive guitars and guttural vocals create a sensation like being dragged kicking and screaming deep into the abyss. The local post-doom metal practitioners’ latest tape Surcease only features two songs, but both have long track times that allow listeners to get lost in their bleak riffs and atmospheric textures. These songs inch forward at a sluggish pace, weaponizing a lack of speed to give their heavy sound maximum impact. The lyrics stay in similar bleak terrains, expressing a seething discontentment with the world, though moments of light do occasionally pierce through all the doom and gloom. On “Fault & Falter,” the band really leans into their post-rock tendencies with ethereal layers of hypnotic guitars intertwining underneath a sampled monologue. “Ashen” begins with similar shoegaze guitar textures, which slowly build up until the band opens the floodgates.  —William Archambeault


Love it or hate it, the aesthetic of 1970s pop rock continues to permeate much of our cultural zeitgeist. The decade’s contributions continue to capture the imagination of many, from recent popular TV shows like Daisy Jones & The Six to the massive continued success of (living and non-living) rock stars like Nicks, Bowie, and Mercury. Working at a record store, I saw firsthand how fast anything Fleetwood Mac would fly off the shelves. But at the bottom of the ‘70s stacks there was always a feel-good, easy-listening album from a forgotten band perfect for mellow Sunday mornings. Amanda Sphar’s solo project, Kid Charleroi, occupies this vintage space and flips old ‘70s tropes into something authentic and warm. Singing stories about personal growth and relationships, Sphar isn’t wistfully nostalgic for a bygone era—rather it’s artistic shorthand for seeking inner peace and life’s-a-journey musings. The lyrics often branch on negative yet empowering subjects in contradiction to the bubblegum, feel-good tunes. Silky, high-quality production makes “Daytime Moon” and “Giving Tree” feel earthy and grounded. The vast cast of musicians backing Sphar turns otherwise straightforward tracks lush and progressive, especially “Doesn’t Get Better” and “Keeping Up.” The whole album has a jazzy, art-school slickness to it that occasionally overindulges, like on “Old Daze.” However, the overall flow of the record makes its relatively short runtime (about 30 minutes) smooth. As far as debut records go, Kid Charleroi delivered a solid album that sets the tone for Sphar’s solo work as both artist and producer. —Dalton Spangler


After four decades of smashing the skins behind some of metal’s gnarliest shredders and screamers, Dave Lombardo has finally taken his own step into the spotlight with this debut solo album. Lombardo is best known as the founding drummer of Slayer, but don’t expect any crazy guitar solos—or guitars at all—on Rites of Percussion, an ambitious effort that is composed solely using percussion. Thankfully, this isn’t just 34 minutes of Lombardo wanking off behind the drum kit. He’s been contemplating making this project for over two decades and, as such, these songs are well thought out compositions. He squeezes a surprising amount of range and emotion out of these percussive pieces by utilizing a lot of different textures that even border on industrial music at times. Lombardo says the root of this project is his love for Cuban and Caribbean music, which is readily apparent in the flavor of these tunes. The influence of experimental vocalist and Ipecac Recordings co-owner Mike Patton, who has worked with the drummer in Mr. Bungle, Dead Cross, and Fantômas, also feels very evident in Lombardo’s willingness to pursue risks on this album. Of course, the core of Rites of Percussion is Lombardo, who wrote, recorded, and produced everything; his signature knack for tension, aggression, and groove defines this material. —William Archambeault


Paprika stands out as one of the most powerful hardcore punk bands to come out of New Orleans since the pandemic. After playing a handful of shows, the band debuted with a lo-fi but solid self-titled tape on well-respected hardcore label Iron Lung Records in 2021. Smoked, their follow-up effort, stays in similarly murky terrain recording-wise, signifying an aesthetic choice that goes hand-in-hand with their cathartic screams and slashing guitars. In case this EP’s cover and the song title “Greasy Pig Disease” weren’t enough for you to guess Paprika’s stance on police, the tape starts with a sample that ends with a guy proclaiming “Wasting pigs is radical, man” before the band launches into their assault. The songs that follow offer similarly bleak meditations on modern American life by tackling consumerism and wealth distribution. Their buzzsaw raw punk serves as a base for catharsis in a grim world. A lively cover of Buzzcocks’ “You Tear Me Up” ends the tape adding a nice little cherry on top. The four songs on Smoked only add up to six-and-a-half minutes, but by keeping things short, Paprika keep their catharsis front and center at all times. —William Archambeault


New Orleans industrial synthwave/dream wave quartet Plomo creates music that transports the listener into a dark sonic dimension. Known for their mesmerizing live performances, their sound and energy also translate into their recordings, as is evidenced on their debut EP, Somos Plomo. Though their music is derived from other synth-driven bands, their influences also include 1940s and ’50s Mexican bolero music and ‘70s-’80s Mexican goth, resulting in a sound that is both familiar and entirely unique. The songs, all written in Spanish by vocalist/songwriter Lidia Altagracia, are also lyric-driven, each weaving tales of darkness, melancholia, and violence, some influenced by her vivid dreams (“Desierto,” “Electricidad”). The general English-speaking audience is encouraged to put a little more effort into understanding the lyrics; they are an essential part of the music, providing additional layers to explore. Indeed, these songs are like glimpses into another realm, one where we may ponder reality from many different perspectives, as in “Coatlicue”: “Es la cara feminina de todo el mundo / Es la cara feminina de todo el mundo / Y son dos serpientes / Mirándose”; “She is the feminine face of the whole world / She is the feminine face of the whole world / And it’s two serpents / Looking at each other.” (Plomo opens for SRSQ at Gasa Gasa on Monday, June 19th.) —Mary Beth Campbell


On Burn Pits, Rathbone turns away from blunt political messaging to more subtle and introspective songwriting. Since 2015, the New Orleans-based artist has been populating his Bandcamp page with his style of electronic “blues” and bedroom pop. However, since late last year, he’s been releasing a surge of new music, including three albums and several singles. They all directly attack American systems of capitalism, neoliberalism, fascism, imperialism, and other buzzwords we all know with well-read wit. Burn Pits stands apart as an album more about Rathbone the musician and person, rather than Rathbone the chronically-online Marx doppelganger. The whole record feels minimalist and repetitive, sometimes tediously so, but each jerry-rigged composition is surprisingly dynamic; it’s not just lo-fi garage nonsense. The instrumentation sounds professionally recorded with highlights being the fuzzy guitars and drums on “Wading Bodies,” the dripping bassline on “Alligator,” and the faux-funk “Nobody’s Quite So Deaf (As Those Who Do Not Hear).” Rathbone’s voice, although not technically “good,” ranges greatly across the album. His voice can be coarse and ordinary but he uses electronic effects to pull off a range of textures, embellishing upon the simple song structures. Although Auto-Tune might not be for everyone, “The Silence Has Turned Evil” has gorgeous vocal effects, especially when paired with harmonies from an uncredited femme dueting on the chorus. “Pink Picasso” paints a picture of the album’s musical framework: Building up from one childlike, chiptune melody, the song unfolds into airy synths and a distant drum machine—occasionally being cut open by sharp acoustic drums—all the while contrasted by Rathbone’s weary lyrics. There’s a sense of awe and melancholy in much of the lyrics, often seeming deeply personal. “Holding Pattern” plainly deals with a dissolving relationship, while “Rant” and “No No No No No No No No No No No” seem to be about actual family members. Burn Pits shows that Rathbone has more to offer than just communist meme music. —Dalton Spangler


Sebastian Figueroa has been a longtime fixture of New Orleans’ experimental music scene, having put out over a dozen ambient releases under the name Proud/Father since 2009. His latest endeavor is a lathe-cut seven inch that finds him shedding his longtime moniker and being born again as Shining Fields. The two songs on this release are seven-minute-plus behemoths that showcase contrasting sides of Figueroa’s musical identity. “Honey Locust” feels like a concentrated effort to move beyond the confines of his past ambient works in favor of melancholic one-man lo-fi rock. He may be trying new things but that doesn’t mean Figueora has abandoned his past style. He repositions his signature ambient sounds as textures that embellish the slow-rolling descent into sadness à la Flying Saucer Attack. “Triacanthos,” an explorative sound collage, feels more in line with Figueroa’s past recorded output. It’s ambient music that has weight to it, uncontent to be banished to the realm of background noise. While these four-track recordings might not be for everyone, there is a certain grit to them that fits well with the character of these two pieces. —William Archambeault


As spring melts away into the summer heat, the timing couldn’t be better for the release of Static Head’s Season Routine. Though the titular season is never specified, the local outfit, led by producer and bandleader Adam Keil, has deployed their signature sonic range for a perfect soundtrack to long and languid summer days.  “Forecast,” the opening instrumental, has an auditory texture that leaves the impression of having been recorded underwater. The feeling holds throughout the album; notes linger and layer upon one another as if moving through an atmosphere denser than air. Like “Forecast,” the songs “Misconceptions” and “Canyons” play smooth and slow, as expansive as the little eternity of a rainy summer afternoon. Though the album picks up speed a bit more in upbeat tracks like “Evident” and “Spinning,” the songs all seem to bleed into one another, giving the album the feel of a unified composition. In its production, Keil is playing with a full toy box of electronic effects, and a futuristic resonance adds to the album’s vintage psychedelic sound. Though such atmospheric music tends to sit well in the background, the beauty of Season Routine is in the details, and it’s a pleasure to let them sweep you away. —Holly Devon


While Andy Gibbs has spent over a decade-and-a-half bashing out gnarly downtuned guitar riffs with local metal group Thou, don’t expect that from his solo output as Supplicate. Blush is the latest in a long series of works Gibbs has composed that explore ambience and drone. Tracks like “Kept” and “A Watchful Eye” conjure distinctive atmospheres through the repetition and rising tension of the cascading layers that make up these pieces. The title track and “World In Your Wound” are built on creatively looped and manipulated layers of acoustic guitar, while other tracks draw upon electronic sounds that feel more obscure in origin. These meditations on the themes of love, anxiety, and depression ebb and flow like scores tied to each respective emotion, recalling Gibbs’ past work soundtracking adult films for Four Chambers. Gibbs pays his respects to the clearly influential Amps For Christ with an extended reinterpretation of the group’s “Eyes That Shine” that weighs heavy with a sense of agony as opposed to the light whimsy of the original version. From start to finish, the pieces on Blush are full of life, with Gibbs bringing his own complicated emotions to the forefront. —William Archambeault


Born out of Black, Latinx, and LGBTQIA+ music and culture, disco is a genre that, at its roots, is as radical as it is sexy—a glorious expression of excess, liberation, and revolutionary love. This is something that London pop artist Jessie Ware seems to understand very well. That! Feels Good!, her fifth full-length and follow-up to 2020’s glittery dance hit What’s Your Pleasure, is a disco revival album that plays homage to the greats without seeming like a tired imitation built on vibes alone. Ware’s soulful vocals and a pulsing funk bass form the backbone of the album, immersing the listener further into the fantasy. The title track declares the album’s central thesis: “Freedom is a sound, and pleasure is a right… Do it again.” On the rapturous, piano-driven lead single “Free Yourself,” Ware advocates for self-love, literally and figuratively: “Free yourself / Keep on moving up that mountaintop / Why don’t you please yourself?Beautiful People,” even more than the rest of the album, is a love letter to the queer community, channeling existential angst into an affirming and celebratory anthem: “Now, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little freak out (Meltdown) / With some company?… Mix your joy with misery.That! Feels Good! provides a much-needed tonic to this uncertain reality, reminding us that it is still necessary and important to embrace sensuality and joy, wherever we may find it. —Mary Beth Campbell


The fan favorite team member and sometimes mascot of the Guardians of the Galaxy team stars in his own ongoing series, which takes place back before Groot has experienced any heroics. He is still young, small, and in need of guidance. Luckily for Groot, another early-journey hero is paired with him for the series—the first Captain Marvel, named Mar-Vell. The gorgeous lighting and backgrounds guide the reader’s eye in the empty canvases of space, followed by a lot of expository information. The setup prepares Groot for an interesting conflict, but the execution of the plot does not make the issue feel like the story is really about Groot. There are way too many side characters (even if they do reoccur in the future) and not enough page time for young Groot. A younger Mar-Vell steals half, if not most of the show, but writer Dan Abnett’s dialogue stays fresh and explains how the more inexperienced Mar-Vell stands apart from his fellow Kree soldiers. One can hope that young Groot receives more attention and story to work with that fleshes out his character or delves into anything that could set him back from being a hero or team player. The most thrilling part about this series’ direction may be that readers get to know Groot better by enjoying a narrative set on his home planet. Jamal Melancon


Protagonist Louise Chao would likely hate the title of this novel. An aging music snob punk musician who never actually ages—thanks to being involuntarily transformed into a vampire by someone she met at an Iggy Pop show—Chao spends her evenings filching about-to-expire donations from a blood bank, mourning the mortal friends she’s outlived, and trying to balance her commitment to rock’n’roll with her need to avoid sunlight and bandmates’ garlicky snacks. All of that, illustrated through comedic episodes that recall What We Do in the Shadows, is complicated when she reluctantly becomes the cool aunt to a long-lost teenage relative with his own budding musical interests and gets enmeshed in a power struggle within the underground vampire community. Author Mike Chen keeps the tone largely light, so anyone seeking a serious exploration of how a hidden, largely immortal, and highly individualistic society should organize itself and distribute food and drugs will be disappointed. But the main story of Chao reconnecting with family, reconciling with loss, and coming to dodge what’s revealed to be a common vampiric curse—centuries of listening only to the music of one’s youth—prove there’s still surprising life left in lighthearted tales of the undead. —Steven Melendez


Cory Doctorow has long been recognized for his inventive science fiction and internet freedom activism (including recent viral polemics against the “enshittification” of online services as monopolistic owners chase ever-increasing profits). Red Team Blues is a departure, a retro ‘90s-style technothriller following 67-year-old Silicon Valley forensic accountant Martin Hench as he chases purloined cryptographic keys that could wreak havoc for online security, then evades vengeful crime syndicates with little help from feckless feds. Doctorow’s characters are, as usual, resourceful, witty, and generally cool in the style of Get Shorty-era Elmore Leonard or Pulp Fiction-period Quentin Tarantino, sharing bon mots and crafty plans (and sometimes beds). Here, they’re also mostly greying figures who’ve seen success in software or academia, giving the novel a strongly nostalgic vibe. That’s reinforced by references to vintage technologies like Usenet and a plot that, minus a few gibes at cryptocurrency and Elon Musk, could be easily transposed to any time in the past few decades. Ultimately, most memorable is the implicit notion that such a caper, where hackers do well while not being evil, is only plausible in today’s enshittified online world with a cast of long-established baby boomers. —Steven Melendez


Few things are quite as satisfying as a good collaboration between living and dead artists. It’s comforting to think about art continuously evolving past the moment of its creation, adding depth to the world of the living as it moves through time. Silent film scores provide the perfect opportunity for contemporary musicians to do just that. Since the filmmakers would traditionally leave the music open for interpretation by its live accompanists, the films remain a ready canvas. Guitarist and composer Tristan Gianola’s original scoring of Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, performed by an eight piece chamber ensemble at the Happyland Theater on May 12, was a particularly ambitious bit of artistic time travel. The 1922 SwedishDanish film portrayed the history of witchcraft and its persecution in the Middle Ages, adding many more centuries of human experience for the performance to interpret. The film is broken into a series of historical vignettes which move from the metaphysics of heaven and hell, to the practice of witchy mischief and a grand witch’s Sabbath, to the torture of witches by the Catholic Church. The film ends by comparing witchcraft to mental illness, bringing in a new layer of historical analysis from the vantage point of the Freudian dawn of modern psychology. Throughout, Gianola’s composition was attentive to every detail of the film, and the players flawlessly executed it while experimenting and improvising along the way. The composition was completely synchronized with the images, little trills timed perfectly with a raised eyebrow or comical movement, its apparent effortlessness evidence of just how much work must have gone into it. Deftly the players brought to life the film’s full range of emotional landscapes, from the delightful surrealism of the Witches Sabbath to the agonizing torture of the witch trials. Their musicianship successfully formed a bridge between the audience and the world of the film, which, while occasionally disorienting and disturbing, proved a fascinating place to spend an evening. —Holly Devon


Windows, the current exhibition by New Orleans-based photographic artist Josephine Sacabo, features six black-and-white photogravures that combine images taken throughout Sacabo’s career and re-imagine them in a series of delicate, dreamy prints on cream-colored silk. Sacabo’s medium, the photogravure, is a laborious form of printmaking. It involves using light-sensitive chemicals to engrave a photographic image onto a copper plate, which is then inked and pressed onto silk. But for Sacabo, the medium’s benefits outweigh the effort. The photogravure allows for the intense, rich tones, subtle shadows, and romantic light effects that envelop each print’s hazy scene of characters living within the compartments of a double-pane window. Some subjects are recognizable, like women, animals, and eerie scenes from the French Quarter. Others, like those featured in “After the Storm,” are abstract and atmospheric. Sacabo’s playful use of scale (in “Nature,” a giraffe and a small bird inhabit similar-size compartments) lends the series a dream-like quality as well as credence to the artist’s statement that Windows offers a look into her memories of past artistic creation. Memories, like photography, are rarely an objective recording of the past, but rather a subjective recounting through the lens of our current perspective. (On view through September 30th.) —Paula Ibiet


At a glance, textile artist Emery Kate Tillman’s power of taking care is an elegant tangle of brilliant pink threads. The lavish color is the only one used in the textiles, and the bold display immediately attracts the eye. Starting at the back wall, the hung work increases in complexity, from framed snaking and symmetrical ropes to the more elaborate weaving techniques, culminating with the enormous embroidered text that serves as the show’s focal point. Sculptures—blown glass orbs and clustered metal tendrils—add more dimension, and demonstrate the artist’s considerable material range. The “power of taking care” manifests in many ways here, from the meticulous craftsmanship to the artist’s deeper preoccupation with bodily care. In the embroidered text, the extended meditation on gender identity, disability, and personal power is resolved in the joyous hue and the intricacy of the work, rendering the power of care a visceral offering to the viewer. —Holly Devon

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