Reviews, October 2015

antigravity_vol13_issue10_Page_34_Image_0003ANN PEEBLES
With the Hi Rhythm Section backing her up, Ann Peebles released seven albums for Hi Records over the course of the 1970s. While her labelmate Al Green became a soul superstar, Peeble’s numerable hits found modest billboard success. Regardless, her strong voice and heartfelt songs about tender and sometimes trifling love make her one of Memphis’ finest musicians. Greatest Hits, a collection of reissued tracks by Fat Possum, showcases some of Peebles’ biggest hits, like the spellbinding “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and the hard-hitting “I Pity the Fool.” It also features songs that put her and the band’s vast musical range on full display, like “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” “Somebody’s On Your Case,” and “(You Keep Me) Hangin On.” Peebles’ strong voice impeccably glides between the studio band’s simmering guitar, bass, and organ, propelled forward by staccato percussion, finally boiling over with a loud burst of brass. Ann Peebles’ Greatest Hits is a steady, 45 minute survey of Peebles’ discography and an excellent introduction to Hi Records’ later Queen of Memphis Soul. —Andrew Mullins, III


CocoRosie primarily recorded their sixth album at their farm studio in France, and there’s literally no other place it could have been recorded, aside from maybe the moon, if the moon could also be somehow centrally located in France. Here’s a story: once upon a time there was a girl who went on a date with someone and ended up back at their apartment. The vibe in the air was that some “making out” was about to happen, so one of them got up to put music on. They chose CocoRosie, and kissing stuff started to take place. In the middle of various kissing activities, one of the two parties decided it would be a good idea to start whisper-singing the songs in the other kisser’s ear. And that chain of events is what the writer of this review will always think of whenever CocoRosie is mentioned. Heartache City isn’t a huge departure from the standard sound of this band, but it has a bit more of a noticeable softness to it than many of their previous releases. They even manage to make a song called “Bed Bugs” a soothing lullaby. That’s one of the strengths of this band: they soothe you with their kissy-kissy whisper singing, and their tin music box instrumentals, while also putting unsettling thoughts in your head. If a band can make you want to make out to a song about bugs, that’s a real accomplishment. —Kelly McClure


antigravity_vol13_issue10_Page_34_Image_0005DES ARK
Des Ark, a fluctuating group of musicians along for Aimée Argot’s strange ride, seems to have brokered a truce between their bold-as-brass epileptic noise rock and an acoustic sound which is positively demure by comparison. Their latest album, Everything Dies, combines Argot’s bad bitch approach with an unabashed vulnerability, both inviting and self- assured. Those who have followed the group since their debut album Loose Lips Sink Ships might miss the ferocious energy which has somewhat dissipated without the punkier songs to sharpen their edge, but Argot’s signature irreverence comes through in the apropos of nothing song titles and mischievous lyrics. Emotions run high throughout the album, from the dark and devastating “Ties” to the manic “Don Taco and His Hot Sauce Toss,” and it’s clear Argot is working something out of her system. The instrumentals are varied and keep you on your toes. The last track on the album features a soulful clarinet which leaves you feeling wistful for just one more song. —Holly Devon


I have my own theory about the identity of Papa Emeritus III, the leader of five Nameless Ghouls who constitute the metal band Ghost. Now this is all speculation, but bear with me. Long ago in the ‘70s, ABBA sold the soul of one unborn child to Lucifer in exchange for rampant success. That young boy, obviously Papa Emeritus III, grew and waited for his turn to lead the clergy. Imbued with both the genes of Disco Queens and Satan incarnate, he gathered the Ghouls and recorded Meliora to spread his version of the dark gospel. That’s it. No other explanation accounts for this album’s seductive and unholy presence. While not a sharp departure from the group’s two previous albums (ostensibly recorded under different Papas), Meliora showcases more of the band’s libertine deconstruction of popular music’s baroque decadence. Songs like “Circe,” “From the Pinnacle To the Pit,” and “Deus in Absentia” are so steeped in both Scandinavian pop and early doom metal that the vast distinctions between the two sub-genres blur together to almost dizzying effect. Once upon a time, this combination might have been regarded as heresy. But, as you may have determined, heresy suits Ghost well. As a result, Meliora is like a strange witches’ brew: at first bitter, then perhaps delicious, but finally maybe a little too sweet and intoxicating. —Andrew Mullins, III


antigravity_vol13_issue10_Page_34_Image_0007IRON MAIDEN
One word comes to mind upon listening to The Book Of Souls… EPIC! With their 16th studio album, London’s heavy metal torch-carriers dish up 92 minutes of guitar-driven atmosphere in eleven songs, a sort of journey through the band’s career. The overall sound rings similar to the more sophisticated Maiden that developed when vocalist Bruce Dickinson rejoined for Brave New World in 1999, but they take several opportunities to nudge at some old favorites. Of course, things never get as raw as the early years with vocalist Paul Di Anno, but songs like “Death or Glory” and “Speed of Light” (the album’s first single/video) conjure up memories of the more aggressively paced mid-‘80s Maiden. For fans of their late ‘80s material, “Shadows of the Valley” has a great “Wasted Years” style intro and the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album echoes throughout. “The Red and the Black,” penned by bassist/ founder Steve Harris, combines classic galloping verses with a myriad of tempo changes that suggest a new direction for the band, while “Tears of a Clown” (about actor Robin Williams’ suicide) mimic the sound from their past few albums. Some daring instrumentation occurs on the 18-minute closing track “Empire of the Clouds,” for which Dickinson composed and recorded a dreamy piano intro backed by cello. This song will have many Maiden fans scratching their heads at first listen, but it really grows on you. An interesting fact is that Dickinson recorded this entire album without knowing he had tongue cancer (you’d never guess it from his impressive performance). Fortunately, he has overcome it and is gearing up for a 2016 tour that will have him piloting the band’s new 747 jumbo jet, Ed Force One, across the globe. Speaking of impressive performances— guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers shine, with the trademark harmonies that have made the band distinct from the beginning, while drummer/golf enthusiast Nicko McBrain is on point, as always. This album’s unique character comes from the band’s new approach to recording: writing the songs in the studio and keeping some first takes to retain spontaneity. The Book Of Souls is a must for any die hard Maiden fan, but it may exhaust the casual listener with lengthy intros and drawn-out dueling guitars. True, it’s no Piece of Mind or Powerslave, but it certainly brings back memories of Eddie the Head as I watched him grow from a spiky haired zombie to a long haired hatchet wielder to a devil puppeteer to a chained madman to a sphinx to a futuristic vigilante to a heart ripping torso to a… well, you get the idea. —Bill Heintz


antigravity_vol13_issue10_Page_35_Image_0002LA LUZ
La Luz has been getting a lot of hype lately. Rightfully so, because they kill it more than any band currently tapping into the neo-‘50s/60s surf rock trend. Weirdo Shrine features more of their classic late night cult zombie surf movie horror rock, but with a more serious turn. The gags and playful humor have subsided in favor of poppier songs like “Don’t Wanna Be Anywhere.” Not to say that their usual style has gotten played out; songs that could have been on the last release stay fresh, mostly due to Marian Pino on drums and Alice Sandhal on organ. Pino’s varied and nuanced beats keep the energy of the songs alive, her ride cymbal picking up the beat and dropping it in odd places. On slower tunes like “I’ll Be There” she drags her snare hand, giving the beat a clumsy stumble. All of the songs are beautifully brought together by Shana Cleveland’s reverbed vocals and twangy guitar sound. Weirdo Shrine doesn’t divert too much from what the band always does, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable. They seem to be having fun and while it isn’t brand new, it’s still really really really good. —Robert Landry


There’s no one out there like Le1f. You could spend the rest of your life listening to different albums, going to shows, searching high and low in small venues located in all sorts of different towns. You won’t find an equal. When sky beard made Le1f (AKA Khalif Diouf) he broke the mold and hid the pieces inside precious gems and gold coins, which were scattered around the farthest regions of the world. And that’s where the term “booty” comes from. Look it up. It’s true. Born to a Muslim father and a Methodist mother, the subject matter of his songs pushes him out, thematically, pretty far from the family tree. Though he is as openly queer as the day is long, he is not a queer rapper. He’s just a rapper, and an amazing one at that. On Riot Boi, (marketed as his debut full- length, though he’s released several album-esque mix tapes over the past few years) his delivery, like bubbles escaping from a tall glass, is lightning fast, intoxicating, and it makes dancing irresistible, especially tracks like “Koi,” and “Rage.” If you happen to see Le1f perform live, you’ll find yourself wishing you had better skills, because no basic body can translate the moves your insides will want to bring out. But it’s fun to try. —Kelly McClure


antigravity_vol13_issue10_Page_35_Image_0005MAC DEMARCO
Electric folkie Mac DeMarco made his mark with last year’s Salad Days: sly, funky tunes commenting on life and living. With Another One, DeMarco retreated into his bedroom in Far Rockaway, Queens, to record a small collection of intimate songs about the ups and downs of being in love. The results leave much to be desired beyond the object of desire addressed in the music. The gorgeous ring of DeMarco’s guitar on Salad Days is muted somewhat, the keyboard work on songs like “No Other Heart” and “A Heart Like Hers” sounding a lot like his strumming. It sounds like he got so caught up in his bedroom that he got tangled in his own intimacy; seven of the eight songs begin to sound very much the same after a while, blending into one long odyssey that comes across as bland, quasi-noodling background music. The one standout is the final tune, “My House by the Water,” in which a synthesizer accompanies sounds recorded outside Demarco’s Queens home: spare, simple, and beautiful, perhaps signifying where Another One’s true love has lain the whole time. —Leigh Checkman


When a band releases their 22nd studio album after nearly 40 years of performing, you’d expect a slowed- down fragment of what originally spiked your interest. Naturally, that’s not the case with Motörhead. Bad Magic is a four-on-the-floor blitzkrieg, chock full of some of the best riffs the band has written in years. With Lemmy’s 70th birthday around the corner, his sandstorm vocals lack the spunk of the early years, but the extra grit is welcome here more than in any other outfit. His uniquely raucous bass playing is ever-present on this release, well captured by producer Cameron Webb. Phil Campbell’s sharp guitar tone and performance are right where they need to be, while Mikkey Dee’s locomotive drumming keeps the energy level high. The opening track “Victory or Die” lets you know right off the bat that the old formula is in place, while “The Devil” (featuring guitar work by Queen’s Brian May) is so catchy I immediately had to go back for a second listen. Their later albums usually feature a ballad and a cover song and this one doesn’t disappoint. “Till The End” is a slower, more personal offering that sums up a lot about Lemmy, and the cover of Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” is an interesting way to close out the record. Truly a band of tradition, Motörhead is still louder than everyone else. —Bill Heintz


antigravity_vol13_issue10_Page_36_Image_0001MOUNTAIN OF WIZARD
I’m sure you’re sick of hearing the phrase “super group,” but when you put four veteran New Orleans musicians like Paul Webb, Grant Tom, Isidore Grisoli, and Aaron Hill together, it’s difficult not to think in those terms. Paul has been famous for forming exceptional instrumental bands (Spickle, Mystick Krewe of Clearlight), proving you don’t need a singer to grab the public’s attention. Mountain of Wizard is different from his previous projects— their sound has a lot more groove and Southern rock influence, making the songs flow seamlessly. This is their first official full length with four songs from the band’s 2014 demo, four re-recorded tracks from their recent self titled cassette, plus four new ones. Too bad the two songs from their recent 7” weren’t included ( just for my completist anxiety). For all you music nerds out there (like me), this band contains former and present members of haarp, Cancer Patient, Abysmal Lord, Excarnate, The Fairies, Eat a Bag of Dicks, HiGH, Dummy Dumpster, Outlaw Order, Dulac Swade, Hawg Jaw, Mangina, Classhole, Automatic Mind Command, Brotherhood of Ignorance, Missing Monuments, Eyehategod, Gasmiasma, and Terry & Louie. About four decades’ worth of skill here. —Carl Elvers


antigravity_vol13_issue10_Page_36_Image_0002PRINCESS CENTURY
Princess Century is the solo side project of Maya Postepski, the Canadian artist previously known for her contributions to Trust (now TRST), and Austra. For the former, Postepski formed the dark electro band with Robert Alfons, but left to focus on the latter, as Austra’s full-time drummer. Her latest full-length, Progress, is the follow-up to her Lossy EP, which came out on Paper Bag Records in August. Her work with Austra and TRST was the foundation for a dark, dark house. And if you picture that house as a haunted cabin in the woods, the house she builds with Princess Century is more like a spooky ( just a notch down from full-on haunted) hotel room in a semi-run-down but still fun-to-visit city. With no lyrics to get in the way, the synthy tracks of Progress are prime for filling in the blanks. Without a singer to tell you what you should be thinking about, or feeling, you’re left free to wander, which is refreshing. And although the album is dark by nature, there’s a sense of humor here as well. “Bros vs. UFOs” opens the album with a hint (if not by title alone) that listeners shouldn’t take things too too seriously. —Kelly McClure


antigravity_vol13_issue10_Page_36_Image_0003SARAH QUINTANA
Let us now praise Kickstarter for enabling Sarah Quintana, a local talent who initially made her way around New Orleans with little more than a guitar and a waifish voice, to throw both of these into two independently-funded releases. Following up The World Has Changed, Miss River marks her second successfully crowdfunded effort, and it also marks a poignant, important milestone in Quintana’s career. Her time with outfits such as the New Orleans Moonshiners and her artist residency at A Studio in the Woods gave her a great band and an overarching theme to work with. Quintana has beautifully made the most of both, ensuring that Miss River ebbs and flows like a body of water. The waif of World has become more sure of herself, singing in a voice resembling Madeleine Peyroux at times, unafraid to embrace and inhabit a virtuosity in the sly vamp of “In the Devil’s Country” or the sweetness of “It’s a Miracle All Around.” It’s clear that Quintana’s skills have never been better, even if one doesn’t know that water sounds are in every track of Miss River. —Leigh Checkman


The punk-esque jam of “The Greatest” on Alabama Shakes’ Sound And Color provides a window into the take-no- prisoners rock laid down by Brittany Howard’s Thunderbitch in their full- album debut. Made up of Howard and members of Nashville bands Fly Golden Eagle and Clear Plastic Masks, the members of T-Bitch eschew their everyday identities for names like Thunderbitch (of course), Matt Man, and B Bone, don black wigs, sunglasses, leather jackets, and red lipstick (yes, even the guys), and attack their music in a way reminiscent of The Ramones. Though a couple of song titles hark back to the days of Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, and Tommy (“I Don’t Care,” “I Just Wanna Rock N Roll”), Thunderbitch pours the one-two punch of rock history and its collective mojo into these ten songs. There isn’t much justice in this world if “Leather Jacket” doesn’t become a new punk classic. Overall, the persona embodied in Thunderbitch herself isn’t entirely unfamiliar to fans of Alabama Shakes, but the album expands on Howard’s vocal ability and completely rocks listeners’ socks off in the process. —Leigh Checkman


antigravity_vol13_issue10_Page_36_Image_0005VIBE DOCTORS
Recently, Vibe Doctors captured the imagination of the hip-hop artists and indie rockers in Jackson, Mississippi with their cinematic, yet adventurous brand of vibraphone-led instrumental jazz. The group formed in 2013 and started performing in local coffee shops, quickly becoming a popular draw. Released by independent Jackson labels Elegant Trainwreck Productions and Homework Town Records, the group’s eponymous first album showcases a wide breadth of musical direction and skill. The band establishes each song ’s direction with calm repetition, less Duke Ellington, and more like a stripped-down Bobby Hutcherson scoring Alfred Hitchcock’s Anatomy of a Murder. Vibraphonist Jason Mathena leads bassist Lucas Pettey and drummer Owen Rockwell into different musical directions, but he lets each musician improvise his path. The bass and drums carry the vibraphone while Mathena explores the instrument’s vast range of textures and sonic capabilities. At times, the group moves further into abstract free jazz jams, where the spritely vibraphone and skipping rhythm engage in a sort of joyful game with one another. Vibe Doctors can be purchased on Elegant Trainwreck’s website. —Andrew Mullins, III


antigravity_vol13_issue10_Page_36_Image_0006YOUTH LAGOON
On Savage Hills Ballroom, the third album by Youth Lagoon on Fat Possum Records, Boise, Idaho electronic singer/ songwriter Trevor Powers continues to showcase his incredible ear for tone and texture, while displaying his wide breadth of musical knowledge. The minimalist ambience draws from a wide spectrum of sources, including classical arrangements and electronica. The first single, “The Knower,” builds like mid-era Radiohead, while retaining a somber brass melody and a hodgepodge of rhythmic sounds. Powers dwells on the isolation and loneliness of a musical pariah in America’s breadbasket, or on the long droning road of a national tour. His voice is high and meek, unobscured by affectation or reverb, yet it pierces through quiet electronic landscapes with uncharacteristic confidence. Savage Hills Ballroom manages to walk a knife’s edge of influences: avant-garde without being inaccessible and Americana without becoming kitsch. Despite a solid album with big choruses on songs like “Free Me,” it’s the piecing together of this prosaic collage that really impresses. —Andrew Mullins, III


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