Reviews, May 2016


AntigravityMAY2016-WEB_Page_30_Image_0003ALL PEOPLE
All People’s second, eponymous album is an eclectic half hour of guitar-heavy post-punk entwined with introspective lyrics, horns, and synth-pop. There is remnant influence from ‘90s bands like Pavement, Archers of Loaf, and Hum, but these elements are repurposed into nine dreamy, tight, and emotionally- driven tracks. The vocals croon “You’re not Yoda, you can’t control her/ She’s not your problem you see” over deep, dynamically layered bass on “Balloon.” This record plays with serious topics, like mental health, that I’d like to see explored further by Community Records’ sweethearts. With All People’s history of aggressive screamo/punk, such a succinct, melodic release is unexpected, but the energy on tracks  like “New Rain” is high and reminds me of Philly’s math rock legends Algernon Cadwallader. Drive in the rain or spend  some time getting to know yourself among the brooding rhythm of this album. —Maeve Holler


2016 CS
New Orleans and Mississippi punks  have been commingling hard for the last year, sharing guerilla venues like the bombed-out generator-powered warehouses near the Desire Housing  Projects and raucous living room sweat boxes like Heaven’s Gate house. Baghead hails from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and this is the third tape the group has cranked out since April 2015. 2016 CS is four quick, snot-  drenched, jangly trash-punk tunes  clocking in at less than five minutes. The drumming is spastic, the guitar  relies on its own natural tone and that  of the amp, and the bass just keeps it all from falling apart. Baghead reminds me of a fusion between Lumpy and the Dumpers (Missouri) and Preskool  Dropouts (Boston). It has felt like eons since Mississippi was even an option  for punk bands to play between New Orleans and Atlanta, and at present, Baghead—and their Mississippi brethren Big Bleach and Criminal  Slang—appear to be holding down the fort. —Dan McCoy


Asphalt for Eden is the first album from Newark, NJ avant-garde hip-hop outfit Dälek since 2009’s venomous Gutter Tactics, which began pushing  hip-hop into sonic extremes and set up artists like B L A C K I E, Death Grips, and Clipping. Though Asphalt for Eden features some of the group’s most melodic, ethereal, and shoegazy work, tracks like “Guaranteed Struggle” and “Control”—supporting the Black Panther Party and Black Lives Matter respectively—are every bit as politically  urgent as Dälek’s critical 2005 release,  Absence. Overall, Asphalt for Eden is a rewarding listen. Instead of the industrial harshness of their earlier  work, you’ll discover a more reserved, but still sprawling side of Dälek, more reflective of their collaboration with Faust than the work of Throbbing Gristle. And if you like this album, definitely listen to their collaboration with Faust. —Corey Cruse


Mystery seems to surround dvsn. No press photos of the group exist and it’s still unclear who the individuals are that actually compose the Toronto R&B act. Ever since Nineteen85—the producer behind Drake’s “Hotline  Bling ” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home”—premiered their debut single “The Line” on OVO Sound Radio last October, rumors have been swirling. Though it’s still unconfirmed, the group is almost certainly a collaboration between Nineteen85 and vocalists Daniel Daley and Latoya Webley. Their  debut album on Drake’s OVO Sound label, SEPT. 5TH, is unmistakably indebted to both the heyday of ‘90s R&B and the softer side of Drake’s catalogue. Ninteen85’s sleek production evokes Timbaland and Pharrell, while Daley and Latoya’s vocals conjure up Usher and Aaliyah for the SoundCloud crowd. Not to say that the album is a rip-off; if anything, dvsn’s reliance on established R&B tropes contributes to SEPT. 5TH’s sensual appeal. Songwriting is ultimately the project’s weakness: the vague repetition of “fuck with me girl” on the album’s opener, and the all-too-  obvious innuendo of “Too Deep” both hurt the album’s staying power. As a project, SEPT. 5TH sets the mood right at times but comes off as superficial and impersonal in its delivery. —Ben DL


Released just in time to rock our summer poolside tape decks, Gland’s long-awaited debut tape, Neurotica, is everything we’ve been waiting for since the band’s eruption onto the New Orleans punk scene just over a year ago. Like the oppressive Southern summer, Neurotica is full of heat, beautiful escapes, and violent disenchantment, served up in a sweaty frenzy that makes you never want to stop moving. Demanding, sharp-toothed vocals by Kallie Van Tassel weave together sumptuous head-bobbing surf rock melodies and snarling pop- punk riffs to create a sound with as much grit as glitter. While crossing  familiar punk territory with themes of rejection of the capitalist police state, BDSM, and ever-present female disenfranchisement, punk anthems like “Cram It” and “Fuck Cops” express  a universal anger easy to scream along with and a soundtrack worth  breaking things to. When Neurotica  is not tapping into innate rage at the modern world, it’s providing a rhythmic bass-powered escape, with the locomotive melody of “Beekeeper.” Meanwhile, weed-smoked B-side tracks like “Brimstoner” and “Dream” make this album as pleasurable as it is bruising. While at times it seems like Gland is trying to cover a lot of ground  in a single album, Neurotica never abandons their signature sound and energy, which makes this album such a gem. —Egan


AntigravityMAY2016-WEB_Page_30_Image_0007COLLEEN GREEN
This self-titled EP, released in a limited run of 350 gold cassettes, is coming out at the perfect time. Colleen Green’s last full-length, I Want To Grow Up, was released on Hardly Art in late February of 2015, but it feels like forever ago. The joy and possible burden of her songs, across the board, is that they can really make a listener greedy. To paint a picture, listening to a Colleen Green album is like having a craving so strong for pizza that when it comes, you scarf it all down without barely chewing and then it’s gone before you know it. You wanted pizza, got pizza, devoured the shit out of that pizza, and now you’re like “I don’t have any pizza anymore. I need more pizza I guess.” When new stuff from her comes out there’s the desire to play it non-stop until you’ve absorbed it all like greasy salt, and then you just have to sit around consuming less satisfying things until more is plopped in front of you. Part of the Infinity Cat cassette series curated by Casey Weissbuch, formerly of Diarrhea Planet and now the drummer for Mitski, this EP isn’t just gold in color, it’s literal gold. Green calls this “Ramones-Core,” which sets you up to love it before you even hear it. From opener  “U Coulda Been An A” to standout track “Here It Comes” you could easily find yourself bloated with joy to the point of popping. —Kelly McClure


AntigravityMAY2016-WEB_Page_31_Image_0002PJ HARVEY
Recorded in London last year during an exhibition called Recording In Process, PJ Harvey’s ninth album is her most ambitious and heady release yet. Both the story behind the recording of it, which took the form of a piece of art in which people watched the process, unseen by the performers, via one- way glass, and the story behind the songs themselves, which were inspired by a four-year span in which Harvey traveled through Kosovo, Afghanistan,  and Washington, D.C., results in an album that must be listened to all the way through multiple times in order to fully appreciate everything it has to offer. To treat this as though it were just another rock record would leave a great deal of its value hidden  below the surface. The title refers to a U.S. Department Of Housing And Urban Development plan intended to revitalize public housing projects,  and the weight of all of this is felt throughout the entirety of the album, especially on songs like “The Ministry of Defence” and “The Wheel,” which has the lyrics “Now you see them, now you don’t/Children vanish ‘hind vehicle/ Now you see them, now you don’t/Faces, limbs, a bouncing skull.” This is one of those rare instances where a late career release by an artist could easily go toe-to-toe with the earlier albums that made fans fall in love in the first place. —Kelly McClure


Imagine stepping into a world of haunting melodies transfixed with a myriad of sublime vocal murmurs. Norwegian composer John Erik Kaada and rock mad-genius Mike Patton combine forces to create Bacteria Cult, a follow-up to their 2004 release Romances. This album plays like an image-less movie, a soundtrack to a fictitious film. Kaada, a multi-  instrumentalist and film composer, led a full orchestra for this eight-song experimental record. This album has the softness and ambience of a background movie score, yet there  is enough melody to hum along to seamlessly blended musical genres  and eras. With the opening track “Red Rainbow,” the soft violins and vocal harmonies build a dreamy  soundscape. While the dreaminess remains throughout Bacteria Cult, it turns vaudeville with “A Burnt Out Case.” Mike Patton never seems to utter a single word, but his vocals flow harmoniously around the instrumentation. There already aren’t enough words to express Mike Patton’s  brilliant musical legacy, but his work with Kaada is a new musical facet. As impressive and powerful as his range is, Patton’s softer tone throughout this album renders his prior work all the more eerie. Kaada’s music flows between genres and musical time periods in a way that is so natural, listeners are transported into new fantastic worlds. —Nathan Tucker


AntigravityMAY2016-WEB_Page_31_Image_0004PUCE MARY
This is one of the best noise albums of 2016. We really might as well get that  out of the way now. Atmosphere is thick and often unforgiving throughout, and there’s an air of—dare it be said—composition. Copenhagen’s Frederikke Hoffmeier has once again delivered a tactful, yet startling album. “Traditional” noise instrumentation, such as synthesizers and feedback, are coupled with beyond-skewed vocal samples and rhythms to create a primal  sonic territory. Beautiful pad synths, sheet metal itchings, and woeful moans meld with skill that is reminiscent of Coil. The Spiral would be harrowing to play in the dark—dense, bassy key stabs and glasslike pings give way to Hoffmeier’s spoken word poetry on “Enter Into Them,” before the track violently erodes. The following track, “Masks Are Aids II,” is a menacing exercise in tonality, as square wave hums  ebb and flow in a strangely soothing  dissonance, and sudden, barked vocals upset the calm. Album finisher “Slow Agony of a Dying Orgasm” begins as a massive dark ambient sphere, before the droning breaks into pummeling percussion and urgent delayed vocals. So much can be said about this album, but once you listen, you’ll see that the first sentence of this review really says it all. Corey Cruse


AntigravityMAY2016-WEB_Page_32_Image_0002SLIMY MEMBER/SSTD
Dallas hardcore punk band Slimy Member just rolled through Spitfire and Gasa Gasa in NOLA, and are headed  out on yet another East Coast tour. You may also recall them playing with Short Leash at Gasa Gasa last year. Tour Tape 2016 samples Slimy Member and SSTD, two projects occupied by the same cohort playing in two starkly different hardcore punk veins, including four tracks from Slimy Member’s upcoming  LP, and four tracks from SSTD’s imminent EP. The groups share their  members, but the instruments are switched up, making for a dynamic live set, and the tape tracks contrast Slimy Member’s brooding tread down the path of Rudimentary Peni and Only Theatre of Pain-era Christian Death against SSTD’s pissed off hardcore with catchy guitar filled verses. Put out by Slimy Member bassist/SSTD guitarist Austen Eby’s Dead Living Distro, Tour Tape 2016 bares the bands’ angst-  ridden, ‘80s Finnish hardcore patch-  wearing souls. —Dan McCoy


AntigravityMAY2016-WEB_Page_32_Image_0001XIU  XIU
One of the hot ticket items during the most recent Record Store Day, this limited edition double album (one blue, one red) came out in a small batch of only 2,000 and is already being vamped up on eBay and the like for hundreds of dollars. Notorious weirdos Xiu Xiu were commissioned last year by Australia’s Gallery of Modern Art to re-imagine songs from David Lynch’s classic show during their David Lynch: Between Two Worlds exhibition. It felt so right during live performances that they decided to release this precious gem of an album. The otherworldly, and often terrifying voice of Xiu Xiu frontman Jamie Stewart  is perfect for songs that soundtracked a show about incest, murder, adultery, and the unimaginable evil that lurks in the hearts of mankind. Stewart’s version of “Into The Night,” originally performed by Julee Cruise, is heartbreaking and grim, but the showstopper here is the last song, “Josie’s Past,” which takes a passage from The Diary of Laura Palmer and lets it boil to a rolling intensity that  will leave you shaken to the core. Twin Peaks was already scary enough, and this somehow makes it worse, which is wonderful. —Kelly McClure



AntigravityMAY2016-WEB_Page_32_Image_0003WILLIAM  DEPAUW
It’s all about perspective, isn’t it: William DePauw stocks Staple Goods, a limited space in and of itself, with ceramics—ceramic frames, ceramic sculptures, ceramic lettering—for his solo show, Limited Space. Frames demonstrating different vantage points  take up the lion’s share of the show: frames of variable sizes, shapes, and textures encapsulate corners rendered in different blue hues, as if the viewer is peering from different angles into the same room. Visually, it’s easy to gloss over the frames’ contents—though this quality adds to the philosophical ditty spun by DePauw, in that our perceptions arise, more often than  not, from packaging. On the opposite wall, Boundless is a crisply delineated rendering of the word, serifs and all, with each letter measuring about a foot tall. The inside of each letter, however, is mottled, in contrast to the cleanly demarcated letters. DePauw seems to be saying: as humans, we abide by boundaries—by a limited space, a frame, or a letter—though for so much of our world, limitlessness is the rule. In other words: WTF, perception. —Brooke Schueller


I’m imagining the spectrum of befuddled reactions one of those  on-the-street camera crews would encounter if they asked passersby on the street about Bosnia and Herzegovina: I bet a small percentage would recognize it as the miniscule, war-ravaged country in eastern Europe,  whereas others might mistake it for an indie pop band or something. All the same, Good Children Gallery capitalizes on our collective Western ignorance of B-H to wow viewers with a woefully under-recognized element of their culture: that is, contemporary art. Curated by Pierre Courtin, Conquer the Beauty showcases the work of a generation born into postwar  dysfunction seeking the “story behind  the story” of a well-trodden narrative of violence. In his visually arresting photo  series, Bojan Stojcic weaves “urban  haikus” with photographs akin to an iPhone photo stream. In one of many images, the words CONQUER THE BEAUTY are scrawled on a note affixed to a rock at the top of a mountain. In a direct reference to his military  experience, Mladen Miljanović’s Kill reappropriates a medical eye exam to say KILL in letters large to small, with the note at the bottom: EYE CHART FOR MILITARY SERVICE ENROLLMENT. Adela Jušić retells  her family’s story as she dyes her grandmother’s hair in her video, When I Die You Can Do What You Want. It’s a rabbit hole I would have never  fallen down of my own accord—and Good Children Gallery presents the beautifully curated show in such a way as to illuminate the illusory distance between cultures. Conquer the Beauty reaffirms our common commitment— for New Orleanians, especially—to resilience in disaster’s wake and, above all, to the tokens of our universal humanity. —Brooke Schueller


AntigravityMAY2016-WEB_Page_32_Image_0005GROUP SHOW
Antenna Gallery has done it again with I Am An Important Giant, a—dare I say—giant group show, comprising 52 artists, of works in miniature. Playful paradox is the name of the game, and the artists in question take to task our ingrained tendency to conflate size with importance. I Am An Important Giant demonstrates the immensity contained within the infinitesimal through an immersive experience akin to an artsy Chuck-E-Cheese: a gumball machine dispenses mini comics; little pieces of gum are splayed on a mini lawn as edible editions of the New York Times; an Ames box with a mysterious room lurks behind a pinhole; and a hole in the floor promises secret illustrations for those willing to stoop and peer. Six floats from the ‘Tit Rex parade  queue up over AstroTurf, jousting in turn at the city’s water contamination, Donald Trump, and the demolition of the Wax Museum to make way for French Quarter condominiums. As in Farewell to thee… Musée Con-‘tit, [AG Comics Editor] Caesar Meadows shows how something no larger than  a shoebox can pack significant social commentary on a city in flux. Deeply impressive is Richard McMahan’s museum recreations, works that have been in progress since 1989. Mini Museum Selections portrays Picassos, Frida Kahlos, Van Goghs, the caves of Lascaux, and more; Tomb of Ka-ra-neb depicts Egyptian phenomena reproduced in devastating detail. To see civilization’s greatest works of art reproduced in miniature underscores the overarching credo of I Am An Important Giant: the tremendous cohabitates with the tiny, a notion that inverts our conventional notions of size and importance. —Brooke Schueller


Bruce Davenport, Jr.—alias Dapper  Bruce Lafitte—presents Duck Sauce: a group show-cum-retrospective at the New Orleans Art Center. Under D.B.L.’s curatorial direction, Duck Sauce zeroes in on a community central to the culture of the Crescent City with a level of attention and detail not unprecedented, but refreshing when taken in context. D.B.L. typifies the contemporary art world’s fascination with “outsider art” (a term I could do without) in that his deeply detailed, felt-tip renderings of marching bands, Mardi Gras Indians, prison scenes, and battles smell as homegrown as collard greens. Accompanying handwritten captions like “Should have not went and did that crack” or “I see you lookin’” or “Taurus da Bull Creation” sound like lines from a bounce song. Laudatory letters from editors at glossy magazines like Art Forum and Harper’s demonstrate the pride, as well as the clout, that his art carries across the world—though D.B.L. invites a host of other talented artists to “Duck Sauce” as well. Meryt Harding memorializes two Carnival-steppin’ veterans in not-  quite-life-sized portraits edged in lace in Baby Doll Merline and Baby Doll Tee-Eva. On the more contemporary end of things, Jamar Pierre’s American Horror, a poptastic mash-up of oil, money, George Bush, graffiti, and the bayou, drops commentary on our modern maelstrom. Duck Sauce celebrates a community that deserves to be celebrated. I hope they sold all the paintings. —Brooke Schueller


What do Israel and Palestine have to do with New Orleans? Curator Noah Simblist conjures the specter of binary  thinking through the lens of one of the most politically fraught issues in modern history for False Flags. Rather  than politicize the debate, the artists find the middling ground—paradox— and follow it through the intersections of nationalism and identity. The term  “false flags” refers to a naval practice whereby nations would sail under a different flag to disguise themselves from enemies, striking at the token’s symbolic resonance: does the imagined  yield as much authority as the actual? Or, alternatively, what renders these  markers of identity authoritative in the first place? Of the deeply poignant paintings, videos, and installations assembled for the show, perhaps the most emblematic piece from False Flags is Ariel Reichman’s Blowing In The Wind, an installation imbued with Platonian flavor (think the allegory of the cave): a cheap fan, weighted with bricks, blows a white flag situated in front of a projector. In its material rendering, the makeshift flag—simple fabric stuck to a haphazard stick—is pathetic. If we focus on the image on the wall, however, the scene becomes patriotic, or even epic. In the globalized now, nationalism pivots along this fulcrum: what constructs constitute identity? Do borders represent a majestic rallying point, or a feeble flag, blowing in simulated wind? In a city demarcated by a cultural grid that is at once rigid and supple, Pelican Bomb inspires essential questioning for New Orleans under the credo, “think  globally, act locally.” —Brooke Schueller


When I wandered into The Front and made it into the back, first I cooed at all of the beautiful rocks meshed  with glass-blown components, and then I read Weston Lambert’s  artist statement and decided he is probably the cutest human being alive (and I mean that in the most non-trivializing way possible). Ziran, as he introduces the body of work, is a Chinese word meaning nature, hence the Caves of Ziran exist first and foremost in Lambert’s imagination. In his words, his process arises from his tumultuous Mormon upbringing, citing his mother’s confession of homosexuality as the impetus that  scattered his family like tumbleweeds and introduced chaos as a major theme  of his adolescence. Because of this, he understands his mélange of stone and glass as a metaphor for simultaneous strength and fragility, opacity and translucence. Things break, in other  words, but they can be reassembled in a manner more beautiful than they existed originally. Within Lambert’s  psychic caverns, we’re treated to spectacularly beautiful glass-blown  rocks: usually I’m skeptical of things for being merely ornamental, but there is something oddly substantial about his creations that, with or without “insert deeper meaning here,” is very compelling. —Brooke Schueller