REVIEWS

WEB-REVIEWS
Published  October 2017

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Bloodsick-BloodsickBLOODSICK
S/T
(C RAGE!)

Having reemerged from their Ohioan tomb, Bloodsick now calls New Orleans its home base. Clevelanders, Nunslaughter, and local blasphemers Witch Burial—among a host of other projects past and present—primarily comprise the current ranks of this quintet. They are set to release their new offering of blackened, necrotic disgust on cassette via local label C Rage! Records on Halloween. Per guitarist Todd Bloodzilla, he conceived Bloodsick to illuminate riffs that he had deemed unusable for Nunslaughter. The material on this recording spans wide swaths of metal territory, from grinding death and crawling doom to blackened thrash. Throughout, the vocals splatter and gargle like projectile vomit spraying onto the wall of a psych ward. The dual guitar attack on “The Calloused Giant” has a doom-laden, deep-fried Southern flavor, while “Only a Scavenger” showcases tight mid-tempo drumming punctuated by fluid fast-to-slow transitions. “The Awakening Beyond” has a late-‘80s Slayer vibe to it, with distinctive guitar harmonies and steady, pummeling Lombardo-esque drumming. Bloodsick spurns serenity whilst escalating collective discontent. —Dan McCoy

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Circa-Tapes-Love-and-VenomCIRCA TAPES
LOVE AND VENOM
(MEDICAL)
 
Euclid is a great record shop and I’ve always felt like I need a paid vacation to make it beyond the usual record store selection. Yet, in one such recent stop, I found Love And Venom, a release so synth-driven and dark that I’d have expected it forefront at Disko Obscura or Sisters In Christ. A solo effort from Kill Memory Crash’s Adam Killing, Circa Tapes manifests as an ongoing synthesis of cold wave’s distant, damaged rockism and late-‘80s electronic body music’s pulsing revelry. Especially on Love And Venom, Killing locates an industrial-dance center that won’t put post-punk fans out. Metallic riffs, tenebrous synth hooks, and throbbing drum machine rhythms drive the album and provide structure for Killing’s processed vocals and the occasional grim sample. But overall, the album offers more dark electronic atmosphere than dancefloor tracks. Circa Tapes brings to mind contemporaries like Boy Harsher by having exactly one track that is distractingly derivative (“Walk”) on an otherwise engrossing darkwave album. Love And Venom isn’t a must, but it is a standout album this year for fans of the dark, synth-driven, and retro. —Ben Miotke

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Cloakroom-Time-WellCLOAKROOM
TIME WELL
(RELAPSE)
 
On Time Well—Cloakroom’s second full length, and their Relapse debut—”control” is the first word that comes to mind. From their inception in 2012, the band has blended modern shoegaze with sludge and post-rock. “Gone But Not Entirely” opens the record with pulsing drums that chant through coiled reverb. The album commences with a flooding tide of distortion while Doyle Martin (vocals/guitar) channels his inner Morrissey. “Big World” and “Concrete Gallery” bring vigorous energy that is slightly uncharacteristic, but not in a bad way. More so, it could appeal to the band’s Harley Davidson fans. Cloakroom has a tendency to unforgivingly play with the listener, throwing them back and forth between heavy, manic depressive downbeats and deceptively ethereal melodies. Another victory for them on Time Well is eschewing the monotony of their previous release, which seemed to never break in dynamics or pace. The record slows down in succession as “Hymnal” and “52hz Whale” wade in like expansive mirages, the rhythm section—Robert Markos (bass) and Brian Busch (drums)—marching through. Impressively, Cloakroom moves through releases, continually refining themselves. —Robert Landry
 

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Dad-PopsDAD?  
POPS
(SELF-RELEASED)
 
Producing bands like Caddywhompus, Sun Hotel, and Donovan Wolfington, Loyola’s had a reputation for fostering some of the most exciting indie rock in New Orleans. Mixed and mastered by Michael Saladis of Donovan Wolfington and New Holland, Pops provides a quick jolt of Dad?’s character-heavy indie pop while making a less boyish statement. Opener “Just Like My Dad” offers their signature humor in a song about dating an analogue of one’s dad, while aping Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” before the band quickly pivots to the ethereal, stormy “Yeah It’s.” “Olive Juice” calms the storm to an earnest indie rock affirmation; and closer “Dead Roses and Stuff” sweeps upward again to a dark, catchy anti-love anthem. In just ten minutes, Dad? establish themselves as a multidimensional, crafty indie pop band that will both lift you up and bum you out. I’m very excited to see what’s next, including the development of their paternal motif (because they’re not your mom)! —Ben Miotke

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-The-Fruit-Machines-The-Fruit-MachinesTHE FRUIT MACHINES
S/T
(STRANGE DAISY)
For those of us raised in the North, it can be hard to remember that October in New Orleans is like our former homes’ most perfect summers condensed into one month. This beaming album’s October release makes the most sense that way. While most passers-by and bands like Fishplate hold summer here to its depressiveness, The Fruit Machines only seem concerned with the bright, sunny days, clear breezy nights, and celebratory reverie throughout. The band’s synth pop impression of summer joy first recalls the danceable post-punk strand connecting Joy Division and LCD Soundsystem—a continuous legacy of krautrock’s repetitive, catchy psychedelia miniaturized into pop songs. That alone can’t provide the maximal sunniness The Fruit Machines aspire to, though. They accomplish this by combining the psych-pop sweetness of Apples in Stereo and the incisive synth hooks of the Rentals. I couldn’t be sure until the final note, but The Fruit Machines avoid trying to add dimension by dropping the hooks or changing the mood—one of the worst mistakes for cheery pop bands. The Fruit Machines is an uncommonly fun and encouragingly happy album from start to finish. —Ben Miotke

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Guantanmo-Baywatch-Desert-CenterGUANTANAMO BAYWATCH
DESERT CENTER
(SUICIDE SQUEEZE)
 
Guitars surge and shimmer through a high tide of cascading rhythm as Guantanamo Baywatch surfs in with their newest album, Desert Center. Originating from Portland, Oregon (which has limited—if any—surf), these rockers have refined the nostalgic and often encapsulated genre. While their peers, such as La Luz, experiment with other peripheral ‘50s and ‘60s horror and psychedelic genres, Guantanamo Baywatch keeps it strictly surf. “The Scavenger” is a great example, with Jason Powell hammering on guitar, shredding through chunky distorted notes like a 1963 Noserider surfboard, and the drums crashing down, throwing the listener into a whirlpool. Desert Center trades off instrumentals with vocally-driven songs throughout, and Powell plays with vocal effects while also letting a raw, gritty voice cut through the beach ballad of “Blame Myself.” Aside from a few monotonous riffs and flat song structures, the band has fun, which is always the point, even in a rough, choppy swell. —Robert Landry

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Holy-Gallows-Proud-Father-SplitHOLY GALLOWS/PROUD FATHER
SPLIT
(SELF-RELEASED)
 
Memphis’ Holy Gallows and New Orleans’ Proud Father have teamed up for a truly distinguished split: a lathe cut 7” with accompanying DVD, limited to 66 copies. Proud Father has been arguably the most recognized name in local noise/experimental music for a few years now. He DJs WTUL’s Night Gallery, featuring cosmic/ambient sounds informed by kosmische musik and local ambient staples, such as Belong. Holy Gallows approaches guitar-centered ambient drone from a background in metal and post-rock, with split track “Tilting to Windmills” recalling more meditative parts of Swans’ late work.The two acts find commonality in their respective sounds, forming massive, cascading atmospheres that find elegant synthesis between acoustic and electronic and, therein, ethereality. The lathe 7” comes with instructions for playing that denote something of a challenge since lathe isn’t as universal as other vinyl releases. But any obstruction this may present is deftly and engrossingly circumvented by the DVD, which offers live footage of the respective artists playing their split tracks with a detailed focus on both their unconventional equipment and contemplative visages. —Ben Miotke  

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Living-Colour-ShadeLIVING COLOUR
SHADE
(MEGAFORCE)

Nearly three decades after Vivid and “Cult of Personality,” Living Colour prove they are still as powerful as ever. Shade is distinctly Living Colour: heavy, groovy, and dynamic. On “Freedom of Expression (F.O.X.),” the quartet immediately bolts into a rolling grind. “Pattern in Time” channels the frantic energy of their younger days at CBGB’s. With the help of New Orleans trombonist Big Sam Williams and lap steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier, “Who’s That” conjures the funky groove of bassist Doug Wimbish’s annual late-night Jazz Fest jams. Their musicianship and arrangements are the crispest they’ve ever been. On their version of Robert Johnson’s “Preachin’ Blues,” singer Corey Glover’s voice wails soulfully. Shade continues Living Colour’s long history of courageously addressing race in America. Their cover of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya” opens with news statistics about African-American deaths from gun violence. On “Program,” guest rapper Darly “Malachi” Thomas Jr. name checks Michael Brown and openly displays the fear he experiences during police searches. Almost three decades later, many of the same problems are still prevalent in America as when “Funny Vibe” first premiered on MTV. —William Archambeault

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Marker-MarkerMARKER
S/T
(MEDICAL)
 
On their self-titled debut full-length, Marker offers ten tracks of cavernous, ‘80s-style dream pop recorded over three years by Mike Wilkinson, which bring Belong’s shoegazing sensibilities down from the skyline and onto the dancefloor. Sprawling, icy guitar, melodic British post-punk basslines, austere drum machine rhythms, and distant, layered vocals define every track and offer the choice between buoyancy and melancholic haze. Wilkinson’s dedication to the tearful ‘80s vibe can make lyrics somewhat incomprehensible. However, the appeal isn’t so much poetry of words but a poetry of sound, in which each mentioned facet of the songs is its own, but all work together in penetrating harmony. This quality is additionally served by melodic changes that keep the listener from total haziness. I’d be curious to see Marker live but this album is more than enough to satisfy my dark, dreamy appetites. —Ben Miotke   

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Pink-Fink-Pink-FinkPINK FINK  
S/T
(DISKO OBSCURA)
 
Just in time for Halloween, local dark electro act Pink Fink and Disko Obscura offer us a full-length release of sleek, sweaty, and spectral synth-funk! This tenebrous analog dance album is an intuitive release for the people who’ve offered us Slashdance, last June’s Egyptian Lover show, and the record shop most dedicated to synth, dance, and post-punk in the city. Pink Fink’s eight tracks demonstrate a similarly-focused mindset, never straying from early ‘80s beats, sinister and funky synths, tinges of Kraftwerk, vocoded vocals, and the ensuing sci-fi/horror vibes. That said, Pink Fink’s chosen palette does bend toward different atmospheres. “Frightened Love” and “Body” manifest as their interpretations of a romantic slow jam and a hook-up heater respectively. Variances toward sci-fi and horror come from likely familiar film soundtracks, especially the work of John Carpenter and—as they’ve recently been regurgitated—Stranger Things. The tracks “Pink’s Groove” and “Fink’s Groove” seem to polarize the funk dimensions, with the former drawing more from Carpenter and the latter more indebted to the earliest days of electro. Album opener and single “Haunted Boogie” almost says it all, and I doubt there will be any better track to drop on a packed dancefloor of glammed-out Halloween partiers. —Ben Miotke

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Pains-of-Being-Pure-at-HeartTHE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART
THE ECHO OF PLEASURE
(PAINBOW)

Innocuous. If there has ever be an excuse for a one word review, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart’s latest release, The Echo Of Pleasure, might be it. Perhaps not as “round” as say The National or U2, but the band doesn’t take musical chances often enough. Singer-guitarist Kip Berman is the driving force behind the group, though singer Jen Goma and touring bassist Jacob Danish Sloan contribute often here. The album is heavily influenced by ‘80s and ‘90s new wave, shoegaze, and pop. Enlisting Days of Abandon engineer-producer Andy Savours (My Bloody Valentine, Sigur Rós) again for this long player has unfortunately resulted in a record that sounds vaguely akin to groups like MBV, but never surpasses its influences. Tracks like “The Garret,” which features vocals by Goma, bring an added lift to the album’s tracklist and keep it from falling into musical wallpaper territory. Berman and the band’s various incarnations—through all of their shifting personnel, labels, and side projects—seem determined, steadfast, and committed to their brand of ‘80s-inspired pop rock. It would be irresponsible not to mention the influence of Echo & The Bunnymen here, but newer groups like DIIV and Wild Nothing are also good bedfellows. —Emily Elhaj

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-TheWorldIsABeautiful-Always-ForeignTHE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE & I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO DIE
ALWAYS FOREIGN
(EPITAPH)
 
Depending on who you asked in 2013, TWIABP were emo revival’s problem child, boondoggle, or crown jewel. In 2017, it’s clear to those who kept watching that they’re instead a regenerating collective dedicated to amplifying any beauty they can, no matter how profane. So far, “post-Americana” has been my favorite term for their maximalist combination of post-rock, indie-folk, and shades of synth pop, shoegaze, and post-hardcore. Averaging something like seven members at a time has allowed them to adapt this sound powerfully to both uncomfortable basements and massive theaters. Much like their spoken word-centered EP Between Bodies, this album feels transitional. The post-hardcore and burgeoning post-metal notions subside to more brass and synthesizer. Despite so much behavior-minded lyricism before, the political-personal minds of TWIABP respond to our current political climate by addressing corporeal conflict more directly. While Always Foreign is in many ways safer than other releases, TWIABP still challenges us—brimming with all the ethereal rage of Thou, more pop grandiosity than Arcade Fire, and at least enough civilian life to offer us common ground. —Ben Miotke

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Tera-Melos-Trash-GeneratorTERA MELOS
TRASH GENERATOR
(SARGENT HOUSE)

Trash Generator proceeds to augment the overall persistence Tera Melos has in writing unconventional rock music. With the past three releases, the band has gone through somewhat of a shift in tone. Starting out as a heavier melodic math-rock band, they have stripped away cliches to focus on songwriting. However, Tera Melos wants the listener to feel uncomfortable. Opener “System Preferences” delivers, with a repetitive atonal bass loop that is ingested by Nick Reinhart’s shimmery vocals and effect-driven guitar zapping. After losing original drummer Vince Rogers, it was hard to think that someone could replace his authentic, transforming beats, which coupled perfectly with the jarring nature of Tera Melos. However, John Clardy continues to exceed expectations, especially on the title track. “Trash Generator, I’m not a bad guy,” Reinhart sings, amidst cascading drums and towering power chords. “Warpless Run” delivers a surprising dish, showcasing more hardcore-punk vignettes as Clardy and Nathan Latona (bass) fall into a classic galloping double-time rhythm. “Universal Gonk” and “Don’t Say I Know” emphasize the band’s inherent talent for asymmetrical time signatures, but somehow still manage to fit in catchy choruses. Trash Generator is Tera Melos at their peak. —Robert Landry  

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Time-Lurker-Time-LurkerTIME LURKER
S/T
(LES ACTEURS DE L’OMBRE)

In existence since 2014, Time Lurker is a one-man band from Strasbourg, France, specializing in furious, atmospheric black metal. A force of brooding strength marked by cavernous vocals, tremolo speed-picked guitars, and pulverizing drumming with pinpoint precision, this record fuses two previous eps (EP I and EP II). With Time Lurker’s intricately woven aural tapestry conjuring such explosive imagery, the apocalypse is put on full rapture. Time Lurker’s bombastic sound personifies an ageless hermetic monk being swallowed by a portal atop a crag whose everlasting Golgotha is hellfire and ice. For fans of such power players as Leviathan or Weakling, Time Lurker is led by an entity named Mick who has brought together a smattering of projects from Strasbourg and Paris, including End of Mankind and Le Mal des Ardents to forge Time Lurker. There’s nothing “post” or “progressive” about this; only heart-wrenching soundscapes and sinister power abound. —Dan McCoy

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Totally-Possessed-BBKSTOTALLY POSSESSED
BORN N BRED TO KILL N SHRED
(A NECESSARY EVIL)
 
Ever long for the glory days of 1980s thrash metal? Well, jump on your skateboard and pop this Totally Possessed tape into the boombox. Their debut sounds like a whimsical time capsule, channeling a sound that feels closer to 1985 than 2017. Born n Bred kicks off with speedy guitar licks and bashing drums. The band makes their influences clear on “Bay Area Attack,” a track which pays homage to the California scene that birthed seminal thrash metal bands like Metallica, Exodus, and Testament. Totally Possessed’s sound doesn’t venture far from the template set by these bands. “The Hateful Shred” quickly assaults listeners with piercing riffs. Recorded prior to the band’s live debut, the material occasionally feels a bit stiff. Still, it’s a welcome addition that adds some diversity to New Orleans’ typically sludged out, feedback-drenched metal scene. —William Archambeault

***

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-BOOKS-The-Futilitarians-Anne-GislesonTHE FUTILITARIANS
ANNE GISLESON  
(LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY)
 
In the aftermath of loss, remedy may be found through community. In The Futilitarians, Anne Gisleson melds philosophical grappling, unresolved memories, and group literary study with gravity and grace. For the author, familial losses compound to form an unshakable malaise, so Gisleson and her similarly ailing friends set out to unpack it through monthly meetings of what they dub “The Existential Crisis Reading Group.” Featuring the insights of a revelatory reading list and a colorful, almost familiar cast, the novel chronicles the group’s determination to hash out existential truths underlying and uniting all flavors of suffering. The city itself is portrayed with an animated truthfulness, even humor, during this search. More than just a setting for memories, it is a character actively participating in them: “The trap of growing up in New Orleans: you’re often preoccupied with what’s been lost while clinging to a grand, cobbled present—part wreck, part fantasy, part regular civic striving, but always under construction.” Somewhere during the ECRG—nestled among empty wine bottles, lurking between the pages of Shakespeare, Beauvoir, Tolstoy, Ecclesiastes, essays, poems, and crônicas—a regimen emerges, then merges with acts of grieving and living. This journey of delicate unraveling and intimate close reading is given an exploratory quality in Gisleson’s resonating prose, resulting in a novel not unlike a great seminar, and very much like New Orleans: once you give into it, it gives back so much. —Terra Durio

ANTIGRAVITY-OCTOBER-2017-REVIEWS-BOOKS-Killers-Of-The-Flower-Moon-David-GannKILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON
DAVID GRANN
(PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE)
 
New Yorker contributor and author David Grann returns to the realm of historical nonfiction in his newest novel of murder, evil, and a “Wild West” more corrupt than any you’ve likely seen. During the 1820s, oil was discovered on Osage lands in Oklahoma; the tribe soon became the richest people per capita in the world thanks to their mineral headrights. However, after a spree of violent and money-driven murders began to plague the Osage, justice remained undone for years due to ineffective law enforcement. As more than 24 people died in a chilling series of murders by unknown community members determined to gain control of their headrights, the newly-emerging FBI descended on the county to uncover the conspiracy and bring justice. But in a twist only afforded by historical hindsight, Grann’s research uncovers new evidence pointing to an even more gruesome reality than the long-forgotten tale originally construed—one that informs and illuminates the bigotry and prejudice long (and still) suffered by American Indians. A profound and prescient read, Killers of the Flower Moon is a book whose narrative arrow points to the horrors of the past while crucially informing the reality of the present. —Terra Durio

 

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