Reviews, November 2015



antigravity_vol13_issue11_Page_36_Image_0007KRISTIN HERSH
In the mid-1990s, Throwing Muses’ founder Kristin Hersh embarked on what would be the first of many tours with rock-folk musician Vic Chesnutt. They traveled the U.S. and Europe together off and on for nearly a decade, encased in that cocooned crucible in which all touring musicians travel. Yet somehow, through many seemingly innocuous moments, Hersh managed to connect with Chesnutt as a friend—that is, as much as he would let anyone become his friend, she acknowledges. Don’t Suck, Don’t Die is more a Hersh memoir than a Chesnutt biography, though through its near-obsessive examination of many moments Hersh and Chesnutt had, certain revelations about Chesnutt and life itself drop like lightning when readers least expect them (much like the results of Hersh’s repeated attempts to crack Chesnutt’s hardened shell of a personality). The mystery of whether she actually got through to him runs throughout Don’t Suck, even to the point of Hersh’s recounting of emails and voicemails she’d left for him when they’d lost touch for a time and both their worlds were coming apart personally and professionally. At its heart, Don’t Suck is a challenging, occasionally exhilarating read that examines what friendship is to its very end. —Leigh Checkman




antigravity_vol13_issue11_Page_36_Image_0004THE KING OF NEW ORLEANS
Larry Shirt (David Jensen) is a cabbie in New Orleans. He enjoys good food, a good Saints game, and a good story. He’s the quintessential New Orleanian, and his easy way with his passengers encourages them to share a little part of themselves on their rides around the city. The result is a beautiful mosaic of personalities, histories, dialects, hopes, and dreams. David Jensen brings an unparalleled authenticity to his role as Larry Shirt. Watching Larry interact with his passengers, enjoy a burger from Bud’s Broiler, struggle with the loss of loved ones, and try to curtail the clogging of his arteries by eating salad—well, it’s nothing short of pure pleasure. He’s charming and open- hearted like the city itself, and despite his shortcomings you can’t help but love him. The film entertained local audiences for several nights during the New Orleans Film Festival, the writer and director in attendance. They prefaced the movie by calling it a love letter to New Orleans, and that sentiment reigns supreme. It’s not a perfect movie, but it does a good job of capturing the heart and soul of the place and reminds us why we we’re proud to call it home. —Alex Taylor


antigravity_vol13_issue11_Page_36_Image_0005THE CREEPING GARDEN
Not an animal, nor a plant, nor a fungi: slime molds defy taxonomical classification. These mysterious organisms usually find a thriving home in dark, damp spaces. Now they are the stars of a new documentary out of the U.K., which features captivating time- lapse photography of the creatures creeping. The film starts with archival footage of a news anchor reporting on an unidentified blob in Texas, a science-fiction-horror film come to life. Then, an update: Nope, just slime mold. When their action is accelerated, the brightly colored organisms display an enchanting, breath-like movement. This quality has attracted a small but dedicated enclave of admirers, some of them as strange as their object of study. Unfortunately, it seems there isn’t much scientific knowledge to draw upon, as the filmmakers spend most of their screen time documenting various experiments inspired by the potential “intelligence” of plasmodial slime mold. Watching real and amateur scientists study the progress of slime molds through mazes as they search for their favorite food (oats) had me questioning our definition of intelligence and whether some of the human beings in the film deserve to be placed in that category. —Alex Taylor



antigravity_vol13_issue11_Page_34_Image_0003THE ARCS
Over the past decade, The Black Keys have morphed into a power outfit, rocking huge venues far from their Akron, Ohio basement beginnings. Dan Auerbach used any time he could get outside of the Keys and his many producing gigs to revisit those early days, and Yours, Dreamily, is the result. It was recorded in three different studios with Leon Michels, Richard Swift, Homer Steinweiss (of the Dap- Kings), and Nick Movshon, with members of the female outfit Mariachi Flor de Toloache contributing vocals, guitarron, and horns. There might be some digs at two drummers (Swift and Steinweiss) getting involved, but the results bolster that decision—among many others—made by this new group. The mixes on Dreamily are darker, grittier, and heavier, and as a bonus, Auerbach’s vocals and guitar work have never been better. A standout is “Rosie (Ooh La La),” which manages to be simultaneously loving and hard rocking, a welcome departure from many of the “bad woman” songs Auerbach has written lately. —Leigh Checkman


antigravity_vol13_issue11_Page_34_Image_0004KURT COBAIN
There’s something agreeably grim and sad about artistic work that’s released after the artist who made it has died. As fans and consumers, we want as much of any given thing as possible, and we want there to be no end in sight to the fulfillment of our wanting. When you attach finance, business, and greed to something as vulnerably emotional as art, you can often end up with a vampiric back-and-forth sucking. The consumer sucks from the sore teet of the artist, while the company sucks the consumer for as much money as it can get. It’s gross, and yet, nary a fan of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain will be able to help themselves from buying this amazing deluxe set containing 31 unearthed tracks (rarities, demos, experiments, etc.) that serve as a soundtrack of sorts for the moving documentary on his life, Montage of Heck. The Super Deluxe Edition also includes a DVD of the documentary, 48 minutes of bonus interviews, a puzzle, and a 160-page hardbound book. To spend so much time, and dive so deeply into the life of an artist that would have wanted nothing to do with this is heartbreaking, but we want it. We just didn’t get enough of him, and this probably still won’t fill the hole he left. —Kelly McClure


antigravity_vol13_issue11_Page_34_Image_0005HEAT DUST
Heat Dust have come a long way since their cassette release in 2011. The three piece had a shoegaze/indie rock sound back then. Since adding drummer Chris Stein (ex-Eucharist/Subservient Fuck/Bloody Mummers) to the band, they’ve refined their sound to a more postpunk/darkwave direction, not unlike contemporaries Mea Culpa and Nightland (Shawn Tabor does double duty playing in Heat Dust and Nightland). Side A sounds pretty straightforward and polished (in a good way). But flip it over and prepare to get gut-punched. The songs on side B are much faster and full of aggression, but don’t stray too far from their original focus. I know a lot of time, effort, and labor went into this full length and it has paid off. The Flenser (out of San Francisco) has done an excellent job promoting the LP. Plus, the band has taken their hard work on the road, joining a U.S. tour with Thou and The Body. The only question is, how do they top this? It will be interesting to see where the band takes the listener in the future. I’ll be paying attention. Oh, the LP is on standard black vinyl, but 300 copies were pressed in olive green for all you record nerds. —Carl Elvers


When I first heard the name HiGH, I stereotyped them as being stoner rock or something similar. Boy, was I wrong! This trio has been cranking out their brand of alternative pop for a few years, resulting in this latest cassette release, Bummer Burner (which includes a download code). I can honestly say it’s my favorite recording by these guys. The sound is very full and clear, making it really powerful. James Whitten did an awesome job with the overall sound quality—he’s building quite a resume for himself. I was a little caught off guard by Isidore Grisoli’s vocals: I’m not used to them sounding so refined (that’s a compliment, by the way). Very Lou Barlowesque. The songs are catchy as hell and flow together nicely. I would’ve preferred a Meat Puppets cover over “I Think We’re Alone Now” (by Tommy James and the Shondells); the Warlock Pinchers covered that song the best. Anyway, HiGH’s music brings me back to a simpler time when going to see Archers of Loaf or Dinosaur Jr. was a pretty normal occurrence. Oh to be young, stoned, unemployed, and paying $225 a month in rent—those were the days. I’m happy these guys grace New Orleans with their upbeat songs and awesome live performances. Don’t stop. —Carl Elvers


antigravity_vol13_issue11_Page_34_Image_0007RITUAL KILLER
With their first album in over a decade, Ritual Killer returns with their long-awaited sophomore album Exterminance. The wait has been well worth it. The album clocks in at little less than half an hour, and every second jabs like a quick punch to the throat. Ritual Killer is a familiar name in the NOLA underground scene. They have current and former members of Goatwhore, Gasmiasma, and Psychon Vex. Each member’s distinct background bleeds into this band, but that does not dilute Exterminance as a stand- alone underground black metal gem. “Through Feral Eyes” rips with ‘80s hardcore punk timing. In “Dogs, Wolves and Carrion Fowl,” vocalist Jordan Barlow holds an incessant groan that fills the song. His singing is like a corpse coughing itself back into life. Ritual Killer’s message is clear with this album: fucking warfare. —Nathan Tucker


antigravity_vol13_issue11_Page_34_Image_0008SO-CALLED SOMEONE
I salute those who take on the unwieldy, heavy undertaking that is blues music; it can be difficult to treat the blues with the sincerity it demands. Too much of one’s trials, travails, and pain in the music can threaten to tumble it into parody. Too little, and the music betrays the musician’s restraint. Chicagoan- turned-New Orleanian Scott Colesby is on a one-man mission to bring the blues back down the Mississippi with To Hell Or New Orleans, his opening salvo under the moniker So-Called Someone. With a voice reminiscent of Jim Morrison (minus the exhibitionism), a mean guitar, and occasional drums, Colesby stakes his claim with “Walkin’,” a basic blues progression that shines in his capable hands. However, things threaten to go off the rails in “Off To Prison,” when the increased volume of the drums in the mix seems to strain Colesby’s vocals. He’s really at his best when at his most intimate, turning that gravel in his voice into an advantage on tunes like “Black Cat Blues.” In a few short tracks, To Hell establishes So-Called Someone as someone to really watch. —Leigh Checkman


Toe comes from Japan and has just released their third full-length record through Topshelf Records in the U.S. and Machu-Picchu in Japan. Only last year did the band make its American debut, but they have been a frontrunner in the math-rock world since 2002, with their first release (a split with an American band, Pele). Their new record, Hear You, experiments less with conventional math-rock (a genre that blends elements of punk and jazz, adding riffs upon riffs), featuring instead song structures akin to classical music, complete with movements and emotional shifts. However, songs like “My Little Wish” provide longtime fans with a rally of angular patterns with in-outs led by Kashikura Takashi on drums. His drumming style is what really separates Toe from other math-rock bands. Some of his beats should require a third arm. Tracks like “A Desert Human” and “Boyo” allow the guitar work of Mino Takaaki and Yamazaki Hirokazu to shine. Their guitars dance on each other’s melody as if they are finishing each other’s sentences. While Hear You features some really amazing songs that show the band’s development, some of the liberties they have taken are slightly unsuccessful, such as a rap song and a piano ballad towards the end of the record. I see these moments as an attempt to connect emotional themes; however, their execution feels uncomfortable. Then again, maybe that was the point. —Robert Landry


Oslo, Norway’s Tsjuder continue their legacy of misanthropy with their newest installment, Antiliv—an album steeped in war marches and black metal blitzkriegs. Tsjuder creates a destructive force aimed at annihilation from beginning to end. The opening songs “Kaos” and “Krater” are fast- paced black metal tracks that ramp the album into a vortex of speed. As the album progresses, Tsjuder begin to show their roots, deeply set in speed metal and punk. “Demonic Supremacy” and “Slumber With The Worm” trudge through riffs and expertly pull off a fuck you, speed metal vibe with slow buildups and catchy riffs. These tracks in particular are reminiscent of Sodom and Venom. Antiliv’s production quality is perfect for the sound Tsjuder is aiming for; nothing is lost or muddled in the process. Even the bass has a presence—something that is often overlooked in black metal bands. Vocal duties switch between Nag (bass) and Draugluin (guitars) and they both bring grim northern hell. Tsjuder’s Antiliv puts a well-conceived timebomb in your brain, so that when the record ends, you still remember those riffs. Overall, I was expecting this band to put out a great record and they did. If you love bands like Satyricon, Taake, Mayhem or Craft, check Antiliv out. —Nathan Tucker


It’s really difficult to attempt to describe a band, or how a band makes you feel, without attaching some sort of activity to things. So-and-so makes you feel like rolling around on the floor crying and cutting yourself; so-and-so makes you want to kick a crotch, etc. If an activity just had to be assigned to Wimps, it would be that of collecting things, and/or organizing various collections. Something about Wimps just makes you want to sit on the floor surrounded by really cool stuff—like old newspapers and zines and things. This is the Seattle punk band’s second album, and it’s coming out on Kill Rock Stars, which is the equivalent of winning an Oscar for a Seattle band (or any band, really). It’s populated by some of the coolest-seeming people on earth, who were all previously in bands with the most amazing names: Rachel Ratner (Butts), Matt Nyce (Meth Teeth), and Dave Ramm (The Intelligence). Punk is such a non- descript word these days, but songs like “Dump,” “Couches,” and “Old Guy” couldn’t be labeled as anything else, really. How about good? Wimps are a really good band and Suitcase is a really good album. There. That’s settled. —Kelly McClure


antigravity_vol13_issue11_Page_36_Image_0001VARIOUS ARTISTS
Community Records’ fifth compilation takes us through the D.I.Y. label’s newest releases. Imagine this collection as a sampler plate at a Chinese buffet: you know you’re gonna try them all, but it may take awhile. To solidify that terrible analogy even further, this 24 track/24 band compilation has a flavor for everyone, from pop-punk to post-hardcore and even a little indie. I thought it was great that the compilation opened with Woozy’s track “Venom” and ended with Boyfriend Material’s “Coast To Coast,” because they perfectly juxtapose one another stylistically. Woozy’s track is a mix of clean guitar picking and distorted overdrive. It’s beautiful and chaotic. Boyfriend Material’s closer is a simple and sweet ukulele lullaby. Strangely, Innards and The Caution Children do this weird counter-cover thing and cover a song from each other. There’s an inside joke somewhere in that. There are plenty of goodies to choose from in Vol. 5, so here’s the definitive list of artists, as they appear on the record: Woozy, Pope, Caddywhompus, All People, Sun Hotel, Coaster, Donovan Wolfington, Ex-Breathers, The Reptilian, Gnarwhal, The Caution Children, Football, Etc., Cement Matters, Matt Wixson’s Flying Circus, Stuck Lucky, Safety, Sharkanoid, New Lands, Innards, Ovlov, Kempa, Little Bags, Tare, and Boyfriend Material. More than a few notable flavors to feast upon. —Nathan Tucker


antigravity_vol13_issue11_Page_36_Image_0002VARIOUS ARTISTS
The independent label that was named for Terry Ork actually began as a way for the then-nascent punk band Television to market their first single, “Little Johnny Jewel.” It found no takers among the major labels circa 1974, so the band and Ork decided to put it out themselves. The development of the scene that became known as punk kept on coming and for much of it, Ork Records was at least recording it. They eventually negotiated a dirt cheap rate with a Connecticut studio and enticed the likes of Alex Chilton post- Big Star, The Feelies, Chris Stamey & the dBs, the Erasers, Mick Farren & the New Wave, Cheetah Chrome, and more to put their music on tape. Though not all of these recordings were released by Ork during its operating years, New York, New York is the first time all of Ork’s singles have been released in their entirety, complete with a 100-plus page book (thoroughly researched by Ken Shipley and Rob Sevier) that puts these singles into the proper historical context. The best thing about New York, though, is the eclectic mix covered in its 49 tracks, a great portrait of the 1970s underground transcending all history and genre. —Leigh Checkman

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