Reviews

24 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews JULY2016-WEB_Page_28_Image_0001

24 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews JULY2016-WEB_Page_28_Image_0001


26 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews Bantom Foxes JULY2016-WEB_Page_28_Image_0003

BANTAM FOXES
GOLD RECORD
(BANDCAMP)
 A Bantam Foxes release is like a sonic postcard that comes every few months, attempting to pack in as much as it can without seeming too dashed off, and leaving listeners yearning for more. Gold Record’s sound as a whole is better than ever before, showing that drummer Jared Marcell and brothers Sam and Collin McCabe are at the height of their powers instrumentally, throwing themselves into the pop-inflected repetition of “Sleep” like pros. Go further into Gold and much of what makes this a trio to watch is still in evidence, be it in the keyboards and nonstop guitars of “Ghost,” the hypnotic bass of “What’s In A Name?” or the culmination of it all, the sublimely changeable “Signals.” Where the latest music tends to suffer is in the lyrics, which are some of the Foxes’ weakest to date. Thing is, you’ll likely be rocking out to Gold Record too much to really care, which is at the heart of a lot of good rock’n’roll. It’s still a joy to hear how Bantam Foxes keep that heart beating, and they keep doing it any way they possibly can. —Leigh Checkman

 

27 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews-Julianna Barwick Will-JULY2016-WEB_Page_28_Image_0004

JULIANNA BARWICK
WILL
(DEAD OCEANS)
 Since her debut in 2006, Louisiana-born Julianna Barwick has been looping her voice to create spontaneous choral compositions that are both gorgeous and arresting. Until now, her voice has generally been the only instrument in her arrangements, save for the occasional piano or string accompaniment. This changes with her newest effort, Will, as beautiful synth pads warble in harmony with her angelic voice to create life-affirming soundscapes. An arpeggio even makes an appearance in album closer “See, Know,” as live drums and bass guitar join Barwick’s singing for a surprisingly energetic ending. Also new to the fold is the addition of another voice, Thomas Arsenault of Mas Ysa, who sings on “Same” and “Someway,” the latter of which also features a rare lyrical coherence in Barwick’s own singing. “Don’t believe, just make excuses,” the two sing in harmony, as the world drops away and all that remains are some of the most wonderful textures you’ve ever heard in your life. —Corey Cruse

 

28 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews-Bibio A Mineral Love-JULY2016-WEB_Page_28_Image_0004.jpg

BIBIO
A MINERAL LOVE
(WARP)
 Bibio (Stephen Wilkinson) is one of the most frustrating, yet great “folktronic” artists that have come out of the United Kingdom. Wilkinson’s talent is something to behold since he plays all of the instruments on most of his albums, in addition to providing vocals. However, as stated, his work can be frustrating: Wilkinson has trouble being consistent on his albums, which erases any notion that he aims for anything resembling cohesion. But when he makes a good track, the well-composed nostalgic sounds woven throughout deserve repeated plays. A Mineral Love is a step up from his previous album, Silver Wilkinson, which felt like a huge, daunting Boards of Canada imitation. This time around, he uses nostalgia by drawing inspiration from the jazzy “dad rock” sounds of Steely Dan clashed with the glitchy sounds of eight-bit. Tracks like “Town & Country” and “Feeling,” the best on the album, play into the niche of nostalgic pop, as eight-bit KORG sounds merge with smooth sailing guitar riffs. Unfortunately, the album can’t keep up with the up-tempo pleasures of “Feeling” until “Why So Serious,” a track that features the vocals of Olivier St. Louis instead of Wilkinson. This boosts the song by giving it funkier baby-making sounds, reminiscent of some of the better Prince tracks. A Mineral Love could have been a full-on electronic funk album, but the slower, more meandering tracks misplaced throughout result in an opposing, frustrating, and altogether inconsistent listen. —Alan Singleton

 

29 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews-Blazing Eye Lonely Corpse EP-JULY2016-WEB_Page_28_Image_0006

BLAZING EYE
LONELY CORPSE EP
(LA VIDA ES UN MUS)
 One of L.A.’s most exciting and dynamic “devilish” hardcore bands has granted punks worldwide another glimpse into their vault of violence with a new, solid gem of a two-track EP. Prior to Lonely Corpse, every Blazing Eye release, with the sole exception of their 2014 self-titled 7”, was confined to a limited number of cassettes. Lonely Corpse makes Blazing Eye’s “suicide menticide” dramatically more accessible. Representing personnel spanning other notable L.A. punk outfits—including Condition and Drapetomania, as well as nowdefunct L.A.-based one-man black metal projects such as Glossolalia and Tukaaria—Blazing Eye tears into their A-side track “Brain” with an otherworldly gruff, Japanese-inspired vocal assault. It’s equal parts disgust and malicious ear candy alongside infectious guitar riffage that keeps pace with a fundamental “Bristol Beat” on the drums. On the flipside of the EP,

“Lonely Corpse” exhibits a certain galloping unease that could very well be describing L.A.’s ceaseless gang warfare, haphazardly accounting for the dead while pondering, “Who will bury this lonely corpse?” Influences abound with Blazing Eye; however, most oft-cited comparisons connect them to the likes of GISM, Mobs, Zouo, and United Mutation. —Dan McCoy

 

30 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews-Case Lang Veirs-Self Titled-JULY2016-WEB_Page_28_Image_0007

CASE/LANG/VEIRS
SELF-TITLED
(ANTI-)
 This collaboration between three of the greatest alt-folk-rock voices of the late 20th/early 21st centuries—k.d. lang, Laura Veirs, and Neko Case— puts its hooks into listeners from the beginning, with vocals blending in perfect harmony in the gentle assertiveness of “Atomic Number.” That opener sets the table for Case/lang/Veirs’ strong songwriting and even stronger showcases of each individual voice. Lang’s voice exhibits Ingenue-level sultriness on “Honey And Smoke” and wistful longing on “Blue Fires” and “Why Do We Fight.” Veirs’ delicate folk storytelling jumps right out of “Song For Judee,” a sad, lilting tribute to ‘70s-era songwriter Judee Hill, and love’s redemptive qualities in “Greens Of June.” Neko Case is, well, Neko Case; her distinctive voice makes every song she is a part of her own (almost to the extent that it could end up on a solo album), be it the swirl of “Delirium” or the musings of “Supermoon.” The one thing lacking from this present-day surpassing of Crosby, Stills and Nash is more harmonies, or at least less-subdued ones. Backing vocals by these musicians tend to get lost in the mix. —Leigh Checkman

 

31 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews-Death Grips Bottomless Pit-JULY2016-WEB_Page_28_Image_0008

DEATH GRIPS
BOTTOMLESS PIT
(HARVEST)
 The newest release by controversial Sacramento dada noise rap outfit Death Grips is refreshing. Eschewing the often formulaic guitar riff-based song structure of their last LP, Jenny Death, Bottomless Pit is a much more experimental, wild ride. The guitar still makes appearances, such as on album opener “Giving Bad People Good Ideas,” which is almost a black metal track, but it doesn’t seem nearly as forced as Jenny Death. Tera Melos pedal wizard Nick Reinhart is still the one offering his synth guitar for Death Grips’ recontextualizing purposes, but it seems as though they’ve found a synergy in the writing process, as his contributions are a lot more fluid. Hella percussion god Zach Hill’s contributions are as crucial as ever, rejecting drum programming for highly syncopated live e-drum performances that melt the mind. This shines nowhere more than on album highlight “Three Bedrooms in a Good Neighborhood,” which is nearly claustrophobic in its relentless pummeling. Some of the album sounds like a reimagining of the nümetal that was churned out of the ‘90s and early ‘00s. This isn’t meant disparagingly; I wish that Death Grips were around then to level Limp Bizkit and Korn where they stood. That’s just fine though, as they’re here now to challenge structural violence as well as anyone in their paths. —Corey Cruse

 

32 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews-The Heidecker In Glendale-JULY2016-WEB_Page_29_Image_0003

TIM HEIDECKER
IN GLENDALE
(RADO)
 Tim Heidecker, of Adult Swim’s Tim & Eric fame, announced a couple months back that he was releasing his first “semi-serious” LP, In Glendale. It’s hard to believe anything Heidecker says in general, considering his body of work, but upon listening to the first few tracks of In Glendale, it appears to take the form of a concept album about the inherent mediocrity in being a middle-aged, middle class dad. Taking into account Heidecker’s comedic origins and his own recent fatherhood, In Glendale sounds like Bruce Hornsby decided to do his own take of Ween’s Twelve Country Golden Greats. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily a good thing considering an album about being a blue collar dad can really only appeal to a specific person: a blue collar dad. However, it’s clear that Heidecker is coming from a vulnerable place on this LP, obviously inspired by having a newborn while living in Los Angeles suburbia, and that vulnerability contributes to the (almost too) sincere matter-of-fact lyrics throughout the album. The most relatable of these, and arguably the best track on the album, is the single “Work From Home,” an ode to a bad hangover that prevents a working stiff/blue collar dad from going into his place of business, opting instead to “work from home.” In Glendale is as good as any dad rock you may hear at a bar & grill jukebox, sweating over a basket of cheese fries you already regret buying. —Alan Singleton

33 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews-The Julie Ruin Hit Reset-JULY2016-WEB_Page_29_Image_0004 
THE JULIE RUIN
HIT RESET
(HARDLY ART)
 The Julie Ruin is much more than just a band, it’s literally a musical expression of a way of life. A way to be. And if you read that and you’re like “What? No way. No one band can have all that power (sung in your mind to the tune of Kanye West’s “Power”),” then okay—let’s rephrase it. The Julie Ruin makes music for people who are sick of sharing their lives with assholes. Led by former Bikini Kill bandmates Kathleen Hanna and Kathi Wilcox, along with Carmine Covelli (drums), Sara Landeau (guitar), and Kenny Mellman (keys), the band formed out of the ashes ofHanna’s 1998 solo synth project, Julie Ruin, released their first album, Run Fast in 2013, and are now rolling out their second, Hit Reset. The new album is almost entirely about being done: done with jerks “explaining things to you,” done with toxic relationships and one-way friendships. Done with societal pressure to smile and play nice. The underlying message here, laid out again and again on songs such as “Mr. So and So” and “I’m Done” is that being kind and being nice are two different things. The next time you’re walking to the bus/train, or trying to enjoy yourself at a show and some douche bag starts bugging you about something, conjure up the confidence instilled in these songs and put forth your best stink eye. You literally don’t have to talk to someone if it compromises your safety and/or mental well-being. This is an album for remembering that. —Kelly McClure

 

34 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews-Kaytranada 99.9%-JULY2016-WEB_Page_30_Image_0002

KAYTRANADA
99.9%
(XL)
That euphoric feeling from a late night drive: down-tempo beats blare from the car stereo and the mystery of the night seeps in. Kaytranada, a Montreal-based producer, embodies this mantra. He originates from the golden age of ad-free Soundcloud as a frequently reposted remix artist. And, for a time, he was considered a Soundcloud king of sorts, remixing the deep cuts of trending electronic or pop artists, often improving upon the original song by interweaving complex beats and samples. His first LP, 99.9%, is a stellar debut that adds to the lore of his prowess as an up-and  coming producer in the EDM world. The record is packed with appearances ranging from unknowns to Chicagobased rapper Vic Mensa, Anderson .Paak, and A$AP Rocky, who’s featured on the trip-hoppy first single, “Glowed Up.” That track—and really the entire record—shows that Kaytranada graduated from the “University of Trip Hop” under grand instructor J Dilla, but he also employs EDM conventions reminiscent of Disclosure’s Settle. AlunaGeorge—incidentally also featured on Settle—shows up on 99.9% in the groovy house-inspired track “Together.” The wide range of this first LP means Kaytranada’s future releases could go in all sorts of interesting and exciting directions. —Alan Singleton

 


36 ANTIGRAVITY- Book Reviews-JULY2016-WEB_Page_30_Image_0001


35 ANTIGRAVITY-Reviews-Zach Quinn One Week Records-JULY2016-WEB_Page_30_Image_0003

ZACH QUINN
ONE WEEK RECORD
(ONE WEEK)
New Orleans punk band PEARS released their second album, Green Star, in April, and frontman Zach Quinn is already back with more material in One Week Record. PEARS combines Quinn’s growling vocals and intense stage presence with fast-paced guitar work. However, this newest solo effort takes some refreshing turns. Recorded in seven days, Quinn uses clean vocals to spin tales of melancholy over acoustic guitar and piano. The songwriting is consistently strong here—there’s no room for filler. “Jinx” is a touching tribute to the cat he was forced to give away because of his intense touring schedule. The album’s bare bones arrangements allow the music to breathe and the lyrics to shine, especially on “I am a Malcontent,” a tune by Quinn’s pre-PEARS band the Lollies. This version trades the anthemic pop-punk feel of the original for one of introspective contemplation. No longer fighting against loud guitar amps, the lyrics on One Week Record take on new weight, resulting in a tender depiction of Quinn.

William Archambeault

 

37 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews-Ace Atkins and Marco Finnegan-Nick Travers Volume 1 Last Fair Deal Gone Down-JULY2016-WEB_Page_30_Image_0004

ACE ATKINS AND
MARCO FINNEGAN
NICK TRAVERS VOLUME 1:
LAST FAIR DEAL GONE DOWN
(12-GAUGE)
 Mississippi noir writer Ace Atkins collaborated with artist Marco Finnegan to adapt his first Nick Travers story into this graphic novel. The result is a straight, no-chaser noir with a New Orleans veneer. These kinds of graphic novels about New Orleans have two common traits: they either feature the existential threat of hurricanes (Dark Rain, Sweets) or the murder victim is a musician (Blacksad: Silent Hell). Last Fair Deal is the latter. Travers’ friend, a saxophone player named—what else?— Fats, dies from what looks like a suicide. When Travers can’t find his friend’s instrument, he suspects foul play. The story flows a little too easily and the characters seem impressionistic rather than actual relatable humans. The style of the art resembles the bare-bones noir story—dark streaks of black rain, heavy shadows, and grimaced faces. New Orleans, aside from a few egregious examples, gets a break from its clichéd signifiers. Sure, there is the victim’s name and the jazz-centered plot, but the art doesn’t lean as heavily as the plot on a Blues-Bro romanticisation of the region’s music and culture. Instead of Cafe Du Monde, the artist draws a bar-sign hanging from the decaying underbelly of a French Quarter awning. Informants aren’t Creole musicians, but “pinkhaired girls” in the Quarter. The first volume of several Nick Travers graphic novels, Last Fair Deal Gone Down is enjoyable, but the story rushes towards a conclusion instead of leaving us hanging off a cliff.

Andrew Mullins, III

 

38 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews-Lisa Hanawalt Hot Dog Taste Test-JULY2016-WEB_Page_30_Image_0004

LISA HANAWALT
HOT DOG TASTE TEST
(DRAWN & QUARTERLY)
 Hot Dog Taste Test is the follow upto Lisa Hanawalt’s debut comics collection, My Dumb Dirty Eyes; and although it falls just short of 200 pages, it’s a single-sitting serving of some of  the most hilarious, loosely food and travel-based slice of life illustrations to ever be put to paper. Reading this for the first time will test your ability to do that thing where you wildly laugh with your whole face while not actually making any sounds, and a second read will cement what you already suspected: that Lisa Hanawalt is at the top of her game when it comes to creative images of bathroom humor, situational animal happenings, and oddly appealing gross food combos. How she found time to put together a whole damn book while also working as the cartoonist/ producer of Bojack Horseman is stressful to even imagine, but what a gift that she did. The comic about what she thinks she’d look like if someone were to burst into a bathroom stall she was occupying is worth the price of the book on its own. I’m laughing right now just thinking about it.—Kelly McClure

 

39 ANTIGRAVITY- Reviews-Eric Spitznagel Old Records Never Die-JULY2016-WEB_Page_30_Image_0006

ERIC SPITZNAGEL
OLD RECORDS NEVER DIE:
ONE MAN’S QUEST
FOR HIS VINYL AND HIS PAST
(PLUME)
 If you had sold, misplaced, lent out, or otherwise lost your old records—that Talking Heads with the bent corner, the copy of More Of The Monkees with that scratch in “Mary Mary”— would you do your damnedest to hunt them down? Not copies of them with shiny new covers and links to downloadable versions—we’re talking the actual scratched, possibly cracked, stained, slightly bent, yet much-loved and much-played old objects themselves. Spurred on to this quest by his interview with The Roots’ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and experiencing the hip-hop drummer’s dismay upon learning he had sold much of his vinyl long ago, journalist Eric Spitznagel embarks upon n odyssey of some nostalgic import filled with musings on the vinyl record as an object far greater than its ability to carry tracks of music. It’s a trip that, quite possibly, only a child of the ‘80s or ‘90s could even begin to understand, as the number of stores selling recorded music in the form of CDs, cassette tapes, and vinyl dwindles to make way  or Apple Music, Spotify, and other music sites, leaving the remaining stores hawking their wares as niche items for true music aficionados. Indeed, Spitznagel’s initial attempts to recover his original copies of classics like Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet—bought to impress a first girlfriend—lead him to the physical sites of record stores that are no more. However, his research and dogged insistence on finding The Replacements’ Let It Be (and the like) lead him to basements in far off locales, to eBay, and to record collecting conventions where his request for battered, scratched vinyl in the midst of booths chock full of collectors’ items stands out like a sore thumb. Along for this wild ride are many friends and members of Spitznagel’s family, especially his brother, who is adamantly skeptical of his (mis)adventures, until a certain denouement—entailing a great deal of props just to get some ABBA playing on an ancient GE record player—really gets the nostalgia flowing. Old Records Never Die is a tale for the ages, an examination of the vinyl record as an object of fetishism and memory that can leave readers questioning their exasperation in one fell swoop ($300 for KISS Alive II and it’s not in mint condition?). Above all, Old Records asks  the hard questions about the ways in which we consume popular music and culture and how those ways change us and our relationships to each other. If you’ll excuse me, I have a phone call to make. I think many of my records are still at my parents’ house, and I have a hankering to listen to a scratched Micky Dolenz-sung tune on my dad’s old Miracord player. I’ll also have to thank my dad for not throttling me when he discovered I’d torn the banana on that Velvet Underground & Nico album of his. Hey, I was five. I thought it might be scratch’n’sniff.

Leigh Checkman

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