REVIEWS

WEB-REVIEWS
Published  November 2017

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Ariel-PinkARIEL PINK
DEDICATED TO BOBBY JAMESON
(MEXICAN SUMMER)

Indie pop’s most mysterious shut-in has done it again. Chillwave progenitor and asshole interviewee Ariel Rosenberg (Ariel Pink) is back, with his least zany album to date. Bobby Jameson was a famously unsuccessful musician, chewed up and spit out by an industry that once marketed him as the next big thing. Pink empathizes with Jameson’s demise, and his new songs resonate with fear of obscurity, aging, and death. The title track laments Jameson’s loss, all over a surf rock groove and Ray Manzarek-style keys. “Time to Live” features a haunting chant that blurs the line between life and death. Lead single “Another Weekend” is a sad-boy anthem about time slipping away. The title of the Ween-inspired jangle “I Wanna Be Young” speaks for itself. And “Bubblegum Dreams,” despite its upbeat aesthetic, leaves an echoing emptiness in its wake. Bobby Jameson may lack the range and lo-fi charm of Pink’s earlier work, but it’s his most mature, thoughtful album yet. (Ariel Pink plays Tipitina’s November 8th.) —Raphael Helfand

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-DVSNDVSN  
MORNING AFTER
(OVO SOUND)

R&B duo dvsn’s sophomore album, Morning After, is a disorienting voyage through the anguish of heartbreak. The album’s 13 ethereal tracks are a guide through the mystifying process of falling in and out of love, from the haunting single “Think About Me” (where vocalist Daniel Daley’s piercing falsetto croons, “Who’s gonna make love like I do? / Yeah, nobody”) to the desperate and driving titular song, “Morning After,” where he quickly spits lines like “Tell me what it’s gonna take for you to stay.” Underlying all of this, Nineteen85’s throbbing, minimalistic beats trace an outline of the despair of Daley’s confessional lyrics, leaving listeners hungry for more. Overall, Morning After holds its own next to dvsn’s acclaimed first release, SEPT. 5th, which boasts similar cinematic elements. But, unlike their first album, they’re adding a raw, timewarped pathos to their toolbelt. The R&B pair’s sound now buzzes with a pulsating fullness unheard in previous work. —Maeve Holler

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Fish-PlateFISHPLATE
HEAVY HEART
(COMMUNITY)

Fishplate’s new record, Heavy Heart, sounds like that summer you fell in love. Community Records’ soft-spoken sweetheart group released this, their third record, in late July after dropping the album’s opening track, the tender and relatable single “Make out Scene,” last May. On the single, frontman Grady Bell reminisces about being an awkward kid who was cast out from “the make out scene” during his formative years, and this sentimental recollection sets the tone for the rest of the album. Throughout Heavy Heart, he imparts important life lessons like “You’re nothing without your friends,” and “It don’t matter how you look exactly, or what you have to say.” Bell’s charming Southern twang runs deep on endearing numbers like “Lizards” and “Country Town,” where he sings over a lull of intertwined and affectionate guitar arrangements. This record is chock-full of insightful indie folk ballads that spin off into a delectable emotional oblivion. Recommended for fans of Hovvdy, Bent Denim, and Damien Jurado. —Maeve Holler

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Mark-GuilianaMARK GUILIANA
JERSEY
(MOTEMA)

Dave Brubeck, who saw jazz as a conduit for musical progress, would scour at the “Weather Channel” jazz that plagues the contemporary genre. However, within the past decade, a resurgence of artists such as Mark Guiliana have taken an encompassing approach, blending theatrical ‘80s pop elements with the rougher nuances of traditional jazz championed by its pioneers. Jersey is Giuliana’s sophomore album with his quartet. It showcases his exuberance behind the drum kit through his rock-fueled shuffling and his role as a band leader. “inter-are” opens with a rolling swing beat upon a weaving saxophone, courtesy of John Rigby. The flipping of dynamics throughout the record highlights Guiliana’s most prominent attribute: control. This is pushed even further in tracks like “Jersey” and “Our Lady.” By having a drummer lead, there is no doubt that rhythm is the main focus; but that doesn’t mean that melody is supplementary. Rigby, along with pianist Fabian Almazan, rides Guiliana’s furry with finesse in such tracks as “September” and “The Mayor of Rotterdam.” In the end, Jersey is helping to bring a revived sound to a seemingly lost genre. —Robert Landry

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Multiple-ManMULTIPLE MAN
NEW METAL
(DKA)

In 1991, Marvel Comics featured superhero Multiple Man in X-Factor, and industrial-dance style EBM started dissolving into house, acid, and techno. Now, the twin brothers comprising the band Multiple Man are wielding throb and clang to bring back the increasingly dancefloor-centric sound of EBM that was largely eclipsed by the industrial rock/metal boom. Hard-yet-funky drum machines, mechanical vocal flourishes, and playfully severe synth melodies give New Metal an aerobic quality, bringing sweat out and putting air in according to a proven economy. It’s rare for excellent underground Australian acts to get exposure in North America, as touring between the two continental markets is extremely difficult. But DKA and Multiple Man are taking a smart risk in bringing this music over on New Metal and their November U.S. tour. Fans of late ‘80s Cabaret Voltaire and early ‘90s Jeff Mills—as well as modern acts High Functioning Flesh and Boy Harsher—should absolutely not miss this LP or the possible Multiple Man performance in New Orleans near Thanksgiving. —Ben Miotke

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Odonis-OdonisODONIS ODONIS
NO POP
(FELTE)

This is a seriously impressive year for progressive post-punk label Felte, with new releases from Sextile, Ritual Howls, and now Odonis Odonis! A more dancefloor-oriented album, No Pop strikes me as one-of-a-kind, neo-psychedelic EBM. Like Primal Scream’s darker Screamadelica tracks, this album features stoner-paced acid house/proto-techno rhythm kaleidoscopes with melodies and effects so trippy they bring feelings of doom that dislocate No Pop between music, trip, and rave. Lyrical content is nearly irrelevant for how immense a pulse the combination of EBM’s hard minimalism and neo-psychedlia’s throbbing, peaking, and corroding create, which leaves the vocal performance on No Pop a more atmospheric component rather than a musical convention. As Throbbing Gristle gestated the seed of psychedelic music to the birth of industrial, Odonis also impressionistically applies electronic noise to make populist music for a post-apocalyptic people. —Ben Miotke

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-PatsyPATSY
LA WOMEN
(LA VIDA ES UN MUS DISCOS PUNK)

This new mini-LP out on 12” vinyl by local punk polymaths Patsy is pure killer, no filler, and is being released by La Vida Es Un Mus Discos Punk, who are basically putting out all of my favorite records these days. With excellent cover art by Shitboyface, LA Women includes, for your listening pleasure, seven pogo-perfect bangers, all under two-and-a-half minutes. This record will turn you upside down and shake you until all your inhibitions fall out and roll under the couch. Recorded and mastered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios, Patsy achieves a kind of thick clarity, without losing any rawness. The guitars and drumming on instant classic “Heathen” stand out, but really it’s Candice’s enigmatic vocals throughout that make this record so fun. The album also includes a timely re-recording of the sing-along “Nazis Are So Plain” from their 2015 demo. It’s hard to describe Patsy in a comparative sense, because although their sound feels like it’s steeped in punk tradition, they really have something unique beyond that. Definitely cop this shit if you like bands like Blitz, Delta 5, or The Ramones—or if you just need something that shreds to help you get through the day. —Beau Patrick Coulon

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Ritual-HowlsRITUAL HOWLS
THEIR BODY
(FELTE)

Reviewing this in time for Halloween would have been ideal but, then again, dark music worth attention excites regardless of season. Detroit coldwave/industrial act Ritual Howls have consistently released such music since 2012 and now offer the characteristically perfect Their Body on ascendant contemporary dark/synth label, Felte. As always, the band summons the spirits of early 4AD’s dark and dreamy post-punk, John Carpenter’s more kinetic synth compositions, and Detroit’s post-industrial dereliction to create a distinct and genuine sound suited to bacchanalian goth-chic parties or the most sodden of solitudes. While Ritual Howls’ full-lengths follow a familiar formula, this mini-album foregoes it and its accompanying guaranteed moments of dancefloor purity for a more blended, spacious character. Slowly agitating with each track and blooming into the finale, “Blood Red Moon,” Their Body stands tall at the intersections of pop and soundtrack, occult and outlaw, rootsy and futurist. The band’s signature sound finds its variance in niches of niches, but the main draw to their work is atmosphere rather than variety. So, next time you’re looking for music at the zenith of new dark, cold, and tough post-punk, Ritual Howls is one of the absolute best choices. —Ben Miotke

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-Teagan&SaraTEGAN AND SARA
THE CON X: COVERS
WARNER BROS

Tegan and Sara Quin are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their heavily-praised fifth album, The Con, by releasing a cover record of those same tracks that will benefit their LGBTQIA foundation. The original album, which is held close to the hearts of long-time fans, was a foundational, fruitful, and emotional navigation through depression and queerness. When the Canadian twin duo announced the release of The Con X: Covers, they stressed the timeless importance that The Con still possesses for them and their listeners. The cover album features an impressive array of artists such as MUNA, Mykki Blanco, Shura, Ryan Adams, Sara Bareilles, CHVRCHES, Haley Williams of Paramore, City and Colour, Cyndi Lauper, Shamir, and more. These artists do incredible work to create a vivid patchwork of sounds, and many of the covers introduce a hopeful sentiment to these tracks that were not formally present on Tegan and Sara’s original version. On the titular track, Shura does absolute justice to the original. Whisper-like vocals repurposing eerie lyrics like, “I’m capsized staring on the edge of safe,” and “Nobody likes me, maybe if I cry,” her rendition is passionate and almost spiritual. The Quins are working their captivating magic on this album, and The Con X is a fruitful reminder that they’re here to stay. —Maeve Holler

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-MUSIC-ToulouseTOULOUSE  
EXTENDED PLEA
(TERRIBLE)

New York’s ever-mysterious Nigerian R&B artist Toulouse dropped his debut EP, Extended Plea, this past month. This release has been long awaited; and throughout 2017 he teased his fans with mind-boggling singles from the album like “Hurtin” and “Reach Out.” Ever since Toulouse first hit a few years ago, listeners have been baffled and intrigued: who is the man behind this enchanting music? On Extended Plea, he shows us many different sides of himself. Toulouse’s dramatic, soulful persona is on full display with tracks like “San Junipero” and “So I Know You Care,” where he flexes his vocal range over an urgent and evolving beatscape. He also gives us a peek into his vulnerable side on a few tracks, and this raw content is perfectly complimented by big-band symphonics throughout. Overall, Toulouse’s sound is an exciting concoction, melding Raphael Saadiq’s soprano moments with Jesse Boykins III’s enigmatic way with words. The album ends with the track “Found,” a dark and delicate culmination that proves unsettling in the best way possible. Extended Plea is a spellbinding preview of what to expect in the future from Toulouse. —Maeve Holler

***

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-FILM-Good-Time-Sadie-BrothersGOOD TIME
BEN & JOSH SAFDIE
(ELARA PICTURES, RHEA FILMS [II])

Ben and Josh Safdie do not tread lightly. Their 2014 breakout film, Heaven Knows What, documented the ugliest parts of addiction, featuring scenes that made Requiem for a Dream feel Disneyfied. Their latest, Good Time, is no less terrifying. Staying true to their core philosophy, they point the camera at New York’s underbelly and force the audience to look. This time, rather than grinding us down with gritty realism, they bring us on a surreal carnival ride, featuring a botched heist, a hospital escape, and a heart attack of a soundtrack from Oneohtrix Point Never. In Heaven Knows What, extreme poverty was a stagnant state of being. In Good Time, it’s a chilling cinematic device, used in lieu of traditional suspense and horror elements. It’s also a character— the antagonist to cunning antihero, Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson). Connie wins our emotional support, even as we watch him manipulate everyone in his path, including his intellectually disabled brother, Nick (Ben Safdie). Good Time revels in this cognitive dissonance. The film ends with the best possible moral outcome to its sordid series of events, but as the credits roll, we feel much closer to heartbreak than relief, happiness, or closure. —Raphael Helfand

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-FILM-Love-and-SaucersLOVE AND SAUCERS
BRAD ABRAHAMS
(CURATOR PICTURES, PERCEIVE THINK ACT FILMS)

David Huggins isn’t the first person to claim he’s seen extraterrestrials, but his account is one of the most compelling ever recorded. It’s about as far-fetched as they come, complete with interspecies intercourse, human/ alien hybrid children, nasal probes, and life-sized insects; but it’s told with such sincerity that you can’t help but listen. Narrated by Huggins himself in long, lightly-edited takes, Love and Saucers is a dive into the mind of a man who truly believes his own story. It turned heads at the New Orleans Film Festival in October (though it ultimately lost out on the Best Documentary Feature award to Ask the Sexpert). The trailer paints Huggins as a lunatic and plays up his idiosyncrasies for laughs, but the actual movie rarely pokes fun at its subject. Rather than recreate the encounters onscreen, director Brad Abrahams uses Huggins’ countless paintings of the events as narrative tools to illustrate the stories. This technique allows for minimal interjection, and makes for a candid portrait of a lucid, soft-spoken man who just so happens to get visits from space. The film treats him with respect, and asks us to question the objectivity of our own realities before disregarding his. —Raphael Helfand

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-FILM-BladeRunnerBLADE RUNNER 2049
DENIS VILLENEUVE
(WARNER BROTHERS)

I won’t rattle off all the things that I loved about the new Blade Runner film. Like how cinematographer Roger Deakins and production designer Dennis Gassner delivered a visually perfect film, or how sublimely dark Benjamin Wallfisch & Hans Zimmer’s minimal score was. How fun it was to watch the scene-stealing brilliance of actors David Bautista, Barkhad Abdi, Mackenzie Davis, Hiam Abbass, and Sylvia Hoeks, and how the 164 minutes seemed to fly by. And I also won’t go on and on about its flaws. Like how it barely passes the Bechdel Test despite having numerous strong femme roles; how the story misses golden opportunities to incorporate issues relevant to our current moment regarding gender and race; or how the main male actors were the least interesting part of the film. Instead, I’m going to get a little personal by telling you how I came to love the original Blade Runner film. Well, I loved the “Director’s Cut” anyway—the one that came out when I was in my teens, ten years after the original theatrical release. It’s a moody sci-fi noir about Deckard, a man who’s hunting a group of naughty replicants who’ve returned from space to find their creator/daddy (and kill him). A story that oscillated between volatility and ambiguity, it resonated with me. The cyberpunk future it showed was a world I could see myself in, and get lost in. I watched the movie countless times. Ten years later when the one minute longer, slightly more violence-filled, color corrected, full-unicorn-dream version—or “Final Cut”—came out, I was again transported to revel in that world, this time for a few scenes longer. A world spawned from the mind of author Philip K Dick and later realized by director Ridley Scott, it has now been expanded upon by Denis Villeneuve with help from Hampton Fancher and so many others. And it has grown; Blade Runner 2049 is perhaps less nourish than the original, but it’s way more primordial. Even with the upgraded backdrop and subtle differences in tone, it’s still a world filled with “more human than human” characters who’ve defied their programming in search of liberation—replicants who’ve revolted against fate in an effort to carve out a different existence for themselves. It’s the dystopian near future, which never quite gets here (or is already here, depending on who you ask). Fact is that it’s still a world I want to see, and spend a long evening in. And at a luxuriating two hours 44 minutes run-time, I got to do exactly that. Do Androids Dream Of Lengthy Sequels? I don’t know, but apparently, I do. —Beau Patrick Coulon

ANTIGRAVITY-NOVEMBER-2017-REVIEWS-FILM-VietnamVIETNAM
KEN BURNS & LYN NOVICK
(FLORENTINE)

Ken Burns changed the landscape of documentary filmmaking with 1990’s The Civil War. The nine-part PBS series became de facto teaching curriculum in schools across the country, and the extensive use of camera motion to crawl across archival photography came to bear his name—the “Ken Burns effect.” 27 years later, Burns is back at it again—this time with longtime producing partner Lyn Novick sharing the marquee—to present Vietnam, an equally exhaustive and lengthy documentary about the war that essentially sunk American exceptionalism. Though Burns and Novick have produced a handful of documentaries since The Civil War, this latest installment feels like the equivalent of a new Star Wars feature, a defining moment in filmmaking where one of the most iconic directing teams returns to grand form. Told mostly from the P.O.V. of ground soldiers from all sides, low-level government officials, and families directly impacted by the war, Vietnam traces the paths that led to the conflict, from the early days of French colonialism, through the ‘60s and early ‘70s, to the present day, where North Vietnamese, Viet Cong, and American infantrymen and civilians all share their experiences. Extensive archival footage—from White House recordings to film shot mid-battle—is backed by a soundtrack mixing period pop music with an original score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. It’s hard to overstate how powerful this series is. With time on their side, Burns and Novick spent 10 years collecting material, waiting for the dust to truly settle on this conflict, capturing the thoughts and feelings of those most directly involved after they’d had enough time to process it all. The payoff is truly revealing. Of all the recollections and interviews, the one that stands out for me comes from NVA veteran Bao Ninh—one of the more striking characters in the documentary, sporting a dapper suit and a cloud of curly white hair. He recalls how his unit would come across the provisions of U.S. soldiers, who were seemingly supplied as if for a picnic, while his troops foraged for food. You could sum up the entire war and motivation of each side in Ninh’s comparison between NVA and American troops: “They were miserable, but they weren’t starving.” As might be expected, Vietnam is a haunting viewing experience. And of course, the parallels for today are obvious and disturbing. The bombing campaigns in Vietnam were extensive and genocidal, as seemingly endless footage in the series relays. Each bomb, we must remember, came with a price tag. When you look at today’s military budget and the hawks who call for its ever-increasing share of our tax dollars, another Vietnam seems just around the corner. Because if this documentary teaches us anything, it is that we are a nation terminally addicted to war. —Dan Fox

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