Published  March 2018


Fever is a sign of infection or underlying illness in the body. In the most sentient album of his 15 year career, hip-hop producer/MC Black Milk goes beyond the surface disruptions within our current political climate and digs deeper, offering reflective social critique and genre-blending sounds that demand replay. Much has changed since his last solo release, If There’s a Hell Below, in 2014. While Black has become adept at introspection and personalized storytelling, on Fever, he redirects his lens outward to examine larger constructs. “On a timeline should I hide in a disguise / from strangers watching my highs or my demise?” he asks on “Laugh Now, Cry Later.” On “True Lies” and “Drown,” topics ranging from the failures of our school system to police brutality and the prison industrial complex are explored. “eVE” and “DiVE” are spacey, light instrumentals that provide balance against the weighty stories of his vocal tracks. As a veteran producer, Black Milk has carved his own lane by masterfully layering electronic, soul, and funk samples with live instrumentation. Singers Sudie, AB, and Dwele are enjoyable additions, deepening the impact of Black’s delivery. He proves time and time again that he can certainly stand on his own whether on the mic or behind it. As Black continues to evolve and utilize his platform to share insightful commentary, we may get a step closer to uncovering our ailments and discovering answers we need. —Jamilla Webb


Dabrye (Tadd Mullinix) just gets better with age. The Ghostly International sweetheart has finally dropped the long-anticipated album Three/Three, his first release in over a decade. While Dabrye has been consistently praised for innovations in hip-hop and programming electronic rhythm for almost 20 years now, Three/Three takes these experimentations to a whole new level with an elaborate network of unearthly sounds that evolve as the album progresses. Each song is a different take on how Dabrye can flex his creative muscles: tracks like “Pretty (featuring Jonwayne)” and “Sunset (featuring Shigeto)” sample elements of smooth jazz, classic rap, and improvisation. Further, Dabrye offers more material that adds to his repertoire of driving beats and supernatural instrumentals with pieces like “Emancipated” and “Electrocutor.” The record also sports an exciting collection of artists like M.F. Doom, Ghostface Killah, Danny Brown, and Phat Kat, which is typical for Dabrye, and will inevitably captivate fans. —Maeve Holler


Gleemer is pushing forward the ‘90s nostalgia-rock circuit. Anymore, their second release, channels even more delicate torrents of fuzzy guitars and far-reaching flurries of twinkling melodies. The main difference between this record and their freshman release, Moving Away, is the focus on songwriting. Main songwriter and lead vocalist Corey Coffman brings a refined attention to detail, and the songs on Anymore (“Soothe Me” and “Dryness” especially) seem less riff-driven and more focused on chords (usually no more than two or three per song) that stumble into each other. Charlie O’Neil is the powerful catalyst of this release, playing drums, bass, and some auxiliary guitar. Having fewer cooks in the kitchen provides for a release that doesn’t get overly complicated. The magic of Gleemer lies in turning the simple back-and-forth into something so dense and rich in melody without ever letting it become monotonous or contrived. —Robert Landry


For this split, Iron Reagan and Gatecreeper join forces to provide 18 minutes of aural terror. On opener “Warning,” Iron Reagan conjure their signature high-speed collision of thrash metal and hardcore punk.  “Paper Shredder” stands out as a welcome addition to the many mosh-friendly anthems of the band’s sets. Thunderous drums boom and lightning-speed guitars flash by on powerhouse cut “Take the Fall.” Two decades after making his first recordings, Tony Foresta still delivers vocals with a youthful fury. Although some overlooked the group as merely a Municipal Waste side project when they started in 2012, Iron Reagan continues to prove that they can hold their own. Gatecreeper’s opening instrumental “Daybreak” sounds like demons playing a demented version of Slayer’s “South of Heaven.” On “Dead Inside,” the band drills away with grinding death metal grooves behind Chase Mason’s deep, growling vocals. An intense combination of pulverising drums and piercing guitars crush down one last time on final cut “War Has Begun.” This release is a reminder that Iron Reagan and Gatecreeper are considered leaders in their respective metal styles for a reason. —William Archambeault


Khruangbin, a band from Los Angeles via Houston, is one of the most exciting and disciplined three-pieces playing right now. Drawing inspiration from ‘60s funk, movie scores, and gospel music, their diverse palette is tangible on record and even more so live. The rhythm section is the glue holding things together as guitarist Mark Speer explores and shreds precisely. Laura Lee locks down the low-end with graceful melodies and anchored strength, in combination with Donald Johnson’s dialed-in grooves. Dripping with scenery, the track “Cómo Me Quieres” is sultry and inviting—an ideal album opener. Track two is the mid-tempo, back-slipping “Lady and Man,” which segues into the breakneck pace of the single “Maria También.” The band continues with their brand of Morricone-on-disco-drugs-meets-Los-Angeles-lowrider-music-meets-telenovela-ambiance for seven more solid cuts. —Emily Elhaj


Loma’s debut album is like living in a faraway dream. The Texas group just released their dark, cinematic self-titled record, which was inspired by globetrotting and a passion for sound experimentation. Throughout the record, the band builds perplexing soundscapes with dramatic, deftly intertwined instrumentals that combine horns, throbbing drums, piano, strings, and more. On most tracks, the vocals of Emily Cross appear in tandem with the instrumentals, and her cadence is both haunting and intimate. Tracks like “I Don’t Want Children” and “Black Willow” are eerily meditative pieces that sound like something out of a futuristic other-world only previously known to us in film. In full, the album’s far-reaching and delicate manner is absolutely mesmerizing. This record is one that can help you get lost and encourage gratitude for the small things; it will stay with you and echo throughout your mind. —Maeve Holler


It’s so easy to pigeonhole Palm as an indie rock band, especially for their history of emulating cult post-punk and art rock icons like This Heat and Sun City Girls. But their latest LP Rock Island shows the first signs of an escape velocity—Palm has stopped trying to be one art rock band or another and has begun trying to be their own art rock band with this extremely charming first draft. For the dire, almost sinister aesthetics of previous releases, Rock Island as a title is a noticeable change in direction, considering the steel drum-like tones and other bright, psychotropic sounds they have brought in to seriously distinguish themselves from their artistic lineage. Palm’s experimental exotica-lite is further elevated by a pivot toward more oldies-grade pop songcraft to even better immerse one in the album’s 41-minute interdimensional vacation. —Ben Miotke


Parasite, the metal-punk horde from Aichi, Japan, has finally bestowed upon us their first full-length studio album, Zankyo. After a slew of EPs—in addition to a three-way split LP that later became a live album—Parasite keeps flaunting their rollicking brand of sweeping guitar riffage, high-flying solos, metallic crunch, galloping hardcore punk aggression, and that unmistakable vocal gargling that Japanese singers pull off so well. For musical Japanophiles such as myself, Parasite occupies subtle gray areas of musicianship not easily recognizable unless the listener knows a bit about the evolution of Japanese hardcore since the early 1980s. Parasite doesn’t play as fast as some of the stalwart “Burning Spirits” bands of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. They don’t emulate Lip Cream’s hardcore punk aggression, nor do they replicate the Chaos UK-influenced rudimentary 1-2-1-2 drumbeats and blown-out distortion as shown by Gai and Confuse (from Kyushu). Instead, Parasite straddles the metal/punk schism that made similar bands including Crow and GISM so revolutionary. The members of Parasite are veterans of the scene with a calculated approach and growing discography that only further bolsters their enigmatic presence. Dan McCoy


While Shark Attack—a New Orleans based surf-rock band—is oddly reminiscent of the defunct Spring Break Shark Attack! out of Baton Rouge, their sound is much more experimental on this debut release. At first, Chum Punch sounds pretty typical, but with tracks like “Shark Fiction” and “Shark Shark Shark,” the band shows they’re no trope. They give nods to musical classics that range from George Bizet’s “Carmen Habanera” to their natural surf predecessor, Dick Dale. Jon “Stingray” Caplan tears through guitar licks with a crisp tonality that feeds the beastly precision of Maximo Mendizabal’s drums. I can be overly critical of drummers in this genre, but I find Mendizabal’s subtleties radically pleasing. Musicians in most instrumental bands are constantly at odds with each other, fighting for the spotlight. Shark Attack, however, finds balance and the means to act as a unit, making the album consistently fun and enjoyable. With many surf-rock and other cult-influenced bands cropping up these days, Shark Attack is one that should hold appeal beyond just the genre’s fans. —Robert Landry


It might be safe to say that Superchunk’s moment in the sun has come and gone. The North Carolina quartet has long been known for their remarkably high energy indie rock performances featuring fast-paced, guitar-driven instrumentals. And with beloved ‘90s releases like Foolish and Indoor Living under their belts, it’s definitely hard to accept that their latest album, What A Time To Be Alive, falls short of the legacy. This record is an attempt at maintaining the same grungy, lo-fi sound they’re famous for; but rather than delivering another successful collection, this release seems out of touch. What A Time To Be Alive presents itself with a deafening lack of urgency or DIY elements. Tracks like “Erasure” and “Lost My Brain” seem too polished and pop-like to fit into Superchunk’s discography. While the record is home to some pretty enjoyable pieces that seem more up to speed (see: “Bad Choices”), What A Time To Be Alive is lackluster and slow-moving overall. It is difficult to see such a treasured group lose their special touch, but this devolution seems unstoppable, especially with indie rock bands. Skip this record and just enjoy what Superchunk used to be. —Maeve Holler


It’s really a privilege to have a shop like Disko Obscura in New Orleans for how expertly curated it is. Sangron is a great example of both Disko’s perspective on truly underground electronic dance music, and some excellent dancefloor works from a section of that community. Crash Courses In Science, Silent Em, and Ortrotasce are the more familiar names on this compilation, but each act’s work speaks for itself. These are dark, atmospheric, sleek, synth dancefloor tracks through and through. Each is its own example of how post-punk, goth, industrial, synth pop, and techno blend together and continue to make bodies move! For fans of Dark Entries, Slashdance, and dark electronic music, this is an extremely limited item only available locally at Disko Obscura and it’s as guaranteed to gratify as it is to sell out. —Ben Miotke


Waveland’s debut full-length album Darling is tenderness personified. From the gentle, twinkling opening track “Just Fine” to the ethereal, acoustic heartbreak anthem “Never Come Home,” this record throbs with intricate compassion. Further, the soft vocals of frontman Daniel O’Connell will guide listeners into a meditative lull and encourage full appreciation of the somber and minimalist instrumentation. Overall, this record is stylistically similar to Songs for the Wormhole, Waveland’s five-song EP from 2016, as it includes comparable features from vocalist Rebecca Greaves and bassist Robert Tornillo (IZE). Darling marks the start of an entrancing evolution for O’Connell. Tracks like “Slow Ride” and “I Know Where You’ve Been” are an exercise in building what he has called “dystopian love,” which proves to be incredibly poignant, especially in the doom-laden year of 2018. Recommended if you like Porches, Radiator Hospital, and Alex G. —Maeve Holler



When I read the inside flap of Future Home Of The Living God by Louise Erdrich, a Handmaid’s Tale-esque novel set in a dystopian future, my interest was piqued immediately. Of course it was: the book’s plot centers on the juggernaut effect on North American society when life on Earth experiences a sudden, strange jump in evolution. The narrative unfolds through the perspective of a pregnant young Native American woman as she goes on the run, hiding from a government determined to seize control of her body (and eventually, her baby). As religious extremist factions start to take over once-normal neighborhoods and strange natural anomalies emerge to further complicate the trajectory of the protagonist’s journey, the story begins to feel familiar, but also rushed, harried. Overall, the narrative starts to break down pretty quickly, transforming what could have been a great story into a rather bland flavor of feminist dystopia. The author sacrifices good prose and compelling character dynamics for a breakneck pace that ultimately takes away from the novel’s potential. There are better books in which you could explore the feminist implications of a society’s impending reproductive doom. —Terra Durio


With over two decades of touring experience, Quintron is no stranger to the long grueling drives and sacrifices that define a touring musician’s existence. On the road, anything that can go wrong inevitably will go wrong. In Europa My Mirror, Quintron’s first book, the local organist and inventor documents a rocky tour across Europe. He largely shies away from detailing the music or shows, instead documenting the seldom-discussed life that occurs in between the fleeting moments of spotlight. Things are stolen, borders induce panic, and big gigs are cancelled. These are the kinds of struggles that any aspiring musician should learn to expect. Quintron filters every occurance in this book through an inescapable American identity. Everything ranging from a disastrous trip to a Portuguese McDonald’s to trying to get into one of Berlin’s most debaucherous clubs becomes a moment for careful self-reflection. About that McDonald’s, Quintron writes, “The whole concept of ‘the customer is always right’ convenience food does not, and should not, compute in a country whose citizens lived under a fascist dictatorship until 1974… Jonathan and I figured that we could jump back there and have that place runnin’ like the Ramones in about fifteen minutes. Fast food and efficient, friendly service is in our blood baby!” In this respect, Quintron’s writings transcend music. One doesn’t have to listen to his recordings to have an appreciation for the insights conjured in this book. At less than 130 pages, Europa My Mirror is easy to get absorbed in. —William Archambeault


If you are looking for a documentary about Cash Money Records, this isn’t it. Though it has been promoted as such, Before Anythang: The Story Behind Cash Money Records Empire focuses solely on the life of Bryan “Birdman” Williams, from his childhood right into the forming of Cash Money Records with his older brother Ronald “Slim” Williams. Like many recent Cash Money releases (see Tha Carter V which will eventually become the millennial Detox), the roll out for this has been a mess, to say the least. Originally slated for release in 2016—when it was first announced that Cash Money was going to be releasing exclusive content for Apple Music—the doc got pushed back until 2017, before finally surfacing this year in a relatively quiet fashion. Even the accompanying soundtrack has seemingly disappeared with no release date in sight. While all this is disappointing, the doc is still worth watching because, well, it’s unfortunately rare to see this kind of New Orleans history being told without the big K word fitting into the narrative. Besides Birdman himself, who narrates the film, all the people interviewed are not big names. Instead, you have insights from family members, old childhood friends, neighbors, and local barbers. Director Clifton Bell also chooses an innovative way to divide the different segments by highlighting the street Birdman lived on at the time. It’s uniquely New Orleans, as events are tied to the blocks where they happened. And while at times it might as well be an ego boost for Birdman (the only negative thing said about him is by his step-mother), the tales of his teenage years spent dealing are complex enough to give this a watch. What hurts most is that the film ends with archival footage of the Hot Boyz in their prime while interviews are played in the background. It then ends abruptly with a “to be continued…” though none of the press material given out suggests there will be a part two. With Cash Money Records’ recent track record, it’s doubtful there will be. Hopefully somewhere down the line we will get the proper story of what has really become one of the most influential labels in rap music history. —Brandon Lattimore

Leave a Reply

Featured Articles

New Orleans Alternative Music and Culture