June 2006 - Antigravity Magazine



June 2006 - Antigravity Magazine
[vol.3 no.8 june. ‘06]
[your new orleans music and culture alternative]
Keith Knight_page 19
Letters from our readers
Freefloating Ramblings_page 4
No, It s Not Aaron McGruder
Anti-News_page 6
Live New Orleans_page 8
DJ Quickie Mart_page 9
A review of the new series Toupydoups
Some of the news that s fit to print
The Bad Off, 6/6/6/ with Potpie, Electrical Spectacle
Snap Judgments_page 22
Hip-Hop Made Easy
Comics_page 23
How To Be Happy, Qomix,
The K Chronicles, Writhe and Shine
Band Of Horses_page 10
Burst Out Of The Gate
mpFree_page 24
Deadboy & The Elephantmen_page 16
Lawful downloads
Dax And Tess Hit The Night Sky
Projections_page 25
Ballzack_page 17
Revolutions_page 26
Suck On Some Wine Candy
The Da Vinci Code, Art School Confidential, Brick
The Fiery Furnaces, Gnarls Barkley, Ray Davies,
White Rose Movement, Lansing-Dreiden, Phoenix
Premonitions_page 29
Event listings
The Brother’s Gonna
Work It Out_page 14
Send Hatemail to: [email protected] or: P.O. Box 24584, New Orleans, La 70184
Your Crack Staff:
Leo McGovern
[email protected]
Senior Editor:
Noah Bonaparte [email protected]
Associate Editor:
Patrick Strange [email protected]
Contributing Writers:
Billie Faye Baker [email protected]
Miles Britton [email protected]
Dan Fox [email protected]
Marty Garner [email protected]
Lisa Haviland [email protected]
James Jones [email protected]
Jared Kraminitz [email protected]
Dakota M [email protected]
Darren O Brien [email protected]
ho are those handsome men on the cover of this
issue? Yeah, yeah, it’s the three editors whose
words appear on this page every month (and the guy
who’s used to being in his comics, Keith Knight). We
admit it–it’s kind of immodest to do it, but when you
have the chance to be immortalized in cartoon form by
one of your favorite artists, wouldn’t you take it? And
considering all the adversity and roadblocks we’ve all
faced in the past nine months, I hope you can forgive us
this one slightly egotistic act.
But is it June again already? It seems like June ‘04 was
just the other day and we patrolled the streets of New
Orleans for the first time, looking for businesses and
people that would take our little magazine. As quickly
as our first year passed, this past year flew by even faster.
Two months off in September and October will do that
to a year, I guess. We came back in November, better
than ever (we hope) and just as committed to putting out
the best magazine possible. Since then we’ve added new departments, like the LiveNewOrleans column,
our ANTI-News, interviews that accompany our featured album review...and we’ll keep adding things we
think make AG better.
To celebrate this month’s momentus occasion, we’ve got a few events on tap. We have a concert
planned for June 24th with Deadboy & The Elephantmen and Ballzack at One Eyed Jacks. Before that we
have this month’s cover artist and creator of the K Chronicles, the aforementioned Keith Knight, presenting
his slideshow at Handsome Willy’s on June 23rd. We hope you’ll join us for those events and that you
continue to pick us up every month–as long as you people support us it’s easy for us to do our best.
This month and every month, we’ll see you out and about!
––Leo McGovern, Publisher
Michelle Reagan [email protected]
Aaron Santos [email protected]
Jason Songe [email protected]
Advertising Associate:
Clark Theriot [email protected]
We like stuff! Send it to:
PO Box 24584
New Orleans, La 70184
ANTIGRAVITY is a free publication released
monthly (around the 1st, like a gub ment
check) in the New Orleans area.
ANTIGRAVITY is a publication of
Strange things are afoot in the Crescent City. Our much
ballyhooed, two-month mayoral ordeal resulted in rehiring the
same guy we had before, roughly the democratic equivalent of
walking around the block twice to find your front door (sorry for
the lack of drama, Soledad). It’s June, again, time for our 200,000strong washing machine to go back on its six-month spin cycle.
Perhaps strangest of all, ANTIGRAVITY turns two this month.
Seems just yesterday we were a helpless, sniveling, eight-by-ten
newborn, barely able to control our bowels or get an even trim
job; now, wide-eyed and wobbly legged, we stumble confidently
into toddlerhood with a tabloid-sized head of steam (the bowels
we’re still working on). In commemoration, local friends (Deadboy
& The Elephantmen, Ballzack, DJ Quickie Mart) and out-of-town
guests (Danielson, Band Of Horses, Fiery Furnaces) will converge
upon the cozy confines of Handsome Willy’s on Friday, June 23,
craving spaghetti and Italian sausage and eager to catch a glimpse
of our special emcee—the illustrious illustrator Keith Knight and his infamous slideshow. All of which
affirms AG’s office mantra of the moment: “Don’t evacuate—celebrate!” Amen to that, brother.
––Noah Bonaparte, Senior Editor
ANTIGRAVITY MAGAZINE is a trademark of
Leo J. McGovern III.
No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher s permission.
04_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
ow that hurricane season has finally arrived (I thought it
would never come!) I’ve compiled an evacuation list of
necessary items in the hopes of benefiting those of you who are
readying your preparations. Please feel free to make additions in
accordance to your personal circumstances.
1. Full tank of gas
2. Mr. Bumby
3. Diazepam
4. Resume
Good luck out there.
––Patrick Strange, Associate Editor
Sometimes, people like us. And every once in awhile they
tell us about it. We get all giddy inside like...well, like people
who just found out someone likes them. Then we print their
letters for stalker-like mementos. When someone tells us
they hate us we cry, dry our eyes, and gorge on Cheez-Its,
the NFL Draft, and flakes of our own sunburned skin. Alas, no
flakes of our own sunburned skin this month.
Carolyn, via MySpace
Greetings folk of Antigravity-dom! The name’s Carolyn, and I was
introduced to your magazine [I mean amazingness] this Cinco de
Mayo. I strolled into Handsome Willy’s around 3 in the afternoon to
visit a friend of mine bartending at that time. I catch a glimpse of an
interesting looking mag on a table by the door, grab it, and sit down
with a beverage.
Two pages later, I was hooked.. and knew I had to find you.
When I saw that you had a MySpace page, and being that I am, as of
late, quite the MySpace junkie, I figured this would be the perfect way
to get in touch with you cats.
What made me fall: The Letters from the Editor. The AntiNews. The
first interview. That’s all I needed.
The style of your writers/editors is mine to an effing tee [pardon my
faux-French]. I was floored to finally have found a publication that gets
me. And you guys got me.
I’m all up for people seeing what non-Top 40 music/media really has
to offer to their lives. Top 50 really isn’t so bad, you know?
Oh yeah, hah. Wait. So we’ve established that my name is Carolyn.
I’m a Communications/Music Major at Tulane University. I’ve been
writing since Kindergarten and only stop when I sleep, which isn’t very
often. I’m a musician as well, currently preparing for my past band’s
2nd reunion show, a new band starting up in August, and perhaps a few
Open Mic nights in the near future with a dear keys-banging friend of
mine. The way I live my life: If I’m not telling a story, I better as hell be
making one.
Correspond with you soon. Have a good night/day, kids.
Match the follicles on
the right with the hirsute men you know
too well. Send your answers to [email protected]
__AG editor Leo
__Built To Spill front
man Doug Martsch
__Iron & Wine’s
Sam Beam
__The world’s most
wanted: Osama
bin Laden
The first e-mailer with the correct answers gets these albums:
All it takes is an e-mail like this to set us off. Is it a coincidence that all
three editors of this magazine are on the cover this month? Nope, when our
heads get built up like this there’s no stopping the arrogance that eminates
from these pages. If we were creepy guys, Carolyn would get several, uh,
creepy messages. She has nothing to worry about, though. We feel bad
enough about all the self-congratulatory things going on this month. Seriously,
though, thanks for the kind words, Carolyn.
Now on to our e-mail contest from last month. The mission was to send
us an e-mail that details your favorite snowball flavor, and the winner gets a
signed copy of the New York Doll DVD. Here we go:
Jeanne Stallworth, via e-mail
June s Guest Judge:
Blues Artist Steven Seagal
you know what I like to do? Get a lime flavored snowball and have
them put condensed milk in the middle and it is just like key lime pie.
In fact I think I’ll go get one down the street right now. darn, I bet the
line should be long!
Mike Ciardi, via e-mail
The best snoball ever.
The one you wait and wait and wait to get from sno blitz on
tchoupitoulas cause its never open and then you get it. and its got real
fruit. Its awesome!
Chris Columbo, via e-mail
Who doesn’t like going to weddings? Free food. Free booze.
Everybody looks hot. And best of all, the wedding cake is like dessert
drugs. Whoever learned how to juice one of these into a sno-ball
flavor is in my will. Give me a $1.50 cup with condensed milk on a 95
degree day in July and I’m all set. “It’s too sweet!” you say? Fine! Enjoy
your boring-ass strawberry, pickle-puss!
Considering that Chris Columbo is in the great local band Rotary Downs
and Mike Ciardi used to work with Infectious Publicity, and that giving the
DVD to either of them would be kind of weird, the New York Doll DVD goes
to Jeanne Stallworth (plus, we save on the postage it would take to send a
package to Mike in Brooklyn).
That’s it for this month–check out the next e-mail contest to the right!
Fire Down Below
Fire Down Below 2: Marked For Maalox
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
Since the self-proclaimed King of All Media
left terrestrial airwaves in December ‘05 for the more
debaucherous pastures of Sirius satellite radio, New York fans
too cheap or lazy to get a subscription for the pay service have
taken to scanning the lower parts of the FM dial, which the
Sirius radio dock transmits its signal to, so they can partake in
Stern’s broadcast. One source in New Orleans reports that,
upon turning off his Sirius receiver after parking on the corner
of Magazine and Race on May 1st, he heard the Stern show on
90.9 FM.
The Consortium of Genius, a New Orleans multimediabased band that’s a cross between Morgus the Magnificent
and Adult Swim, celebrates their 10th anniversary in July with
shows at the Howlin’ Wolf on July 1st and the Big Top on July
C.O.G. will record portions of the Howlin’ Wolf show for
an episode of their TV series, the pilot of which airs July 2nd
on Cox 10 at 8pm. The show features C.O.G. interacting with
local bands, and the first episode features Egg Yolk Jubilee. For
more info, go to consortiumofgenius.com.
On June 7th, Boom! Studios releases Tag #1, a horror
comic “in the tradition of The Ring,” according to the publisher’s
website. Lafayette-based artist Kody Chamberlain (IDW’s 30
Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales, Punks: the Comic) provides the
artwork while longtime comics veteran Keith Giffen (Blue
Beetle, Trencher, Formerly Known as the Justice League) writes. Tag
features Mitch, a regular guy who gets “tagged” with an ancient
pagan curse that makes his skin rot and his joints seize from
rigormortis, and the only way he can save himself is to “tag”
someone else. For more info, go to kodychamberlain.com and
On May 9th the Voodoo Music Experience announced the
addition of Duran Duran to their 2006 lineup. The British
rockers join the already-announced Red Hot Chili Peppers. In
other Voodoo news, the Experience has sold out of a special,
limited amount of $25 weekend passes and has moved to its
next ticket promotion, a $30 weekend pass coupled with a $3
charitable donation.
TheVoodoo Music Experience is scheduled for October 28th
and 29th, and tickets are available at www.voodoomusicfest.
Because we need a reason to run a photo of Kristen Bell
–her teenage sleuth drama is one of a certain hairy editor’s
favorite shows (as if this issue isn’t already self-referential enoughEd.)–the new WB/UPN combo network, CW, has picked up
Veronica Mars for a third season. For more info, go to upn.
Please submit sightings to [email protected]
Celebs in compromising positions preferred.
John Goodman, funny big man and default celebrity at
Mardi Gras balls, has been a busy body as of late, having
been spotted twice in two separate occasions. A fellow
bibliophile spotted Goodman stepping out of Borders in
Metairie on Tuesday, May 9 toting a shopping bag full of
paperbacks. Speculation reports that the titles of his books
included Fat White Vampire Blues, Feminist Television Criticism:
A Reader, and Cigarettes are Sublime. The blues man was
also spied driving his loaded 2005 Mercedes E-Class in the
L.G.D on the morning of April 25. Stalker notes indicate
that he “appeared half-awake and even more disheveled
than usual…probably bringing his teenage daughter to
Giancarlo Esposito, the fedora-clad, cigar-smoking
FBI agent in The Usual Suspects (not Chazz Palminteri),
got caught having Eggs Sardou and lemonade at Café Rani
on April 30. An eyewitness claims that in true Hollywood
fashion, Esposito’s attire mirrored that of the characters
that he plays: plump stogie in mouth, brimmed hat tilted
low and starched collar shirt. Rumors circulate that he
is in town putting his type-cast rep and inquisitive side
glances to good use in Spike Lee’s upcoming investigative
documentary about Katrina.
In another example of how you can trust only ANTIGRAVITY,
the Universal Music Group has been fined $12 million for
payola. New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer levied the fine
against UMG after finding that the label provided graft to radio
stations, including a laptop computer and vacations. UMG was
also found to have manipulated MTV’s Total Request Live to
bump up call-ins for Lohan videos in June of 2005. AG has yet
to field an offer for “pay-for-play.”
06_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
Fantasia, 2004 American Idol winner and darling of the
Idol marketing machine, was seen in the St. Charles Ave.
neutral grounds on Thursday, May 25 waving to “whooping
and hollering” construction workers who drove by in their
pick-up trucks. The astonished observer also notes that
Fantasia, who has already wrote a book about being a young
unwed mother and recorded a song entitled “Baby Mama,”
was standing barefoot and appeared to be seven months
pregnant. However, it is still uncertain whether Fantasia
is indeed pregnant or just in costume for her upcoming
made-for-TV movie, Life Is Not a Fairy Tale.
- A Rose is a Rose
3.75” XMAKE
7.5” LEVEES,
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then?
G’mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget
their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.
Atreyu:What is the Nothing?
G’mork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying
this world.
—The Neverending Story
I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve never heard so many
people talking about leaving New Orleans for the summer.The
heat is already weighing down shoulders, and the people aren’t
exactly looking forward to who-knows-how-many mandatory
evacuations, so I understand the exodus. Hell, this is the closest
I’ve come post-Katrina to throwing up my hands and saying,
“Screw it,” but I still want to stay and fight for my city and
pump money into the economy because I can’t live anywhere
else. Yesterday at the Circle Bar I overheard a man say, “We’re
not in New York anymore,” as he leaned into the bar next to
me to get his friends a drink. I thought, “Thank God.” New
York’s a wonderful city, mainly because every concert passes
through there, but it’s still a nebulous free-for-all where the
beers are $5.
Yesterday I also ran into Jimmy Ross, a local poet and
performer who has been hosting the Thursday night reading
at the Gold Mine as of late. He said he’s going to spend the
summer in Colorado, the reason being the paranoia that is
beginning to saturate the streets. I feel it, too, but that’s only
because I let it get to me. Every failure and wrong turn gets
exacerbated by my tense surroundings, but I’m going keep
hope, even if I feel like the city has lost hope in me, because
despair spreads like a disease.
Still, reality beats platitudes. A month ago New Orleans had
a natural diminished population, but now, the city is starting to
look like it did the first month after people were let back in: a
little empty (hopefully college enrollment won’t take a nosedive
in the fall).The fear and trepidation regarding upcoming tropical
storms and hurricanes times the return and possible upturn in
crime times a smaller number of people on the streets equals a
situation where, as Wyclef would say, “Anything can happen.”
When friends tell me they’re leaving for the summer, I want
to tell them I need comrades, but I also want to ask them,
“Don’t you want to stay for the big show?” Here it comes, the
most crucial moment in the city’s history. Will we be put out
of our misery, or will we be spared? Will people leave the city
for good, spouting, “Fooled me twice, shame on me,” or will we
come through the season with levees intact, a sign to refugees
that it’s OK to return for good?
Does it mean anything for the city
that the sixth day of the sixth month
of the sixth year is this summer? Nah,
right? Big Hair Productions
will celebrate the evilest of days by
presenting a night of music at The Big
Top that will be devoted to the darkest
of bands—Black Sabbath.
Local minimalist/drone musician
Potpie came up with the idea for the
show because he had always wanted
to be in a Sabbath cover band. Even
though most of the show is made up
of electronic/noise musicians, they’ve
all grown up with and shown a deep
love for Sabbath. Except for Jonathan
Freilich. According to Potpie, Freilich
had never heard Sabbath’s music before
he began assembling a Yiddish
Sabbath band, Jonathan Freilich
and The Dark Shabbos.
Like the
Klezmer All-
but Sabbath. Reinterpretation of Sabbath is the
order of the night, while local
space-rockers Shatner will
be shedding their trippiness for
a hard-pounding, loyal take on
Sabbath. Shatner will be performing “Into the Void,” “Lord of
This World,” “Sweet Leaf,” “Behind The Wall of Sleep,” “Black
Sabbath” and “Electric Funeral,” according to Ozzy, a.k.a. Anton
Chef Menteur will perform, along with a nightclosing performance of the Twisted Karaoke
Band (all Sabbath), but the big news is that local
analog electronic band Electrical Spectacle
will reunite for a performance of “Black Sabbath,”
“Paranoid” and a possible third song. Drummer
Louis Romanos has moved away since the storm,
so the duo of Gussoni and Mike Mayfield will play
with drum machines.
“Sabbath is appropriate because they’re based on
riffs, just like Electrical Spectacle,” Mayfield said. “It’s
been a long time since Anton and I played together.
We conjure up some pretty cool sounds, but he’s been
mentioning that he might be moving, so this might be
one last hoorah.”
Mayfield will use a vocoder for the vocals and a
theremin for the guitar solos. Also on hand will be
Moogs and organs. Tickets are $6.66.
–During my Katrina-imposed, one-month exile,
nola.com was my number one source for New
Orleans news. The website also showed the positive
power of the Internet as it brought together lost
family and friends. Lately, though, the website has
been updated sporadically, and it really dropped
the ball during the mayoral election. CNN.com
presented our election results before nola.com did.
And, speaking of elections, are we the laughing stock
of the nation because we re-elected Ray Nagin?
As he begins his second term, I have two suggestions
for the mayor: 1.Take a retreat with Bush, Blanco, and
your city council, work your stuff out, and then come
back with a better idea of how to communicate and
08_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
not point fingers. 2. Get a PR person. Hell, they don’t even have
to possess a degree or a title. Find the person you listen to, and
then when they tell you not to say something, do that.
–The music always sounds purer when a rock band plays an
acoustic set. When local band Mahayla unplugged for a few
songs at the Circle Bar a few months ago, the songs they played
possessed a beauty and clarity impossible with loud drums and
distortion. Local band the Bad Off is working on finishing
their first full-length album, and since drummer Jody Smith is
living in New York, the band sat on stools at a recent Howlin’
Wolf performance. Their drum-less experiment was moving
because it spoke to the heart and not so much the groin. Erik
Corriveaux remains one of the best—if not the best—rock
vocalists in New Orleans.
Js don’t exactly warrant much attention.
Their role within the music industry can best be
described as court jester-flashy, energetic and—to
“serious music connoisseurs”—downright comical. No one
has ever felt or learned anything from their music; they have
none to call their own. They simply spin another’s hard work
and thoughts, taking displaced credit. But what happens when
the music they play causes one to feel and learn, and their
enthusiasm for a type of music inadvertently transmits ideas
and feelings to someone jaded? Such is the case with myself
and DJ Quickie Mart, and such is the case where the DJ should
be praised.
Among the flooded-out car dealerships and crack houses
of Tulane Avenue lays the 900-square-foot shack that is Nick’s
Bar. A longtime favorite among college kids, Nick’s was known
for cheap drinks and slack doormen, both of which packed
the inside and surrounding shell lot most Friday and Saturday
nights. But it was Monday nights that traded Tulane’s richest
for NOLA’s hippest, all there to pay respects to the city’s most
talented turntablist and coolest white boy to ever rock shell
tops—hip-hop’s local golden boy, DJ Quickie Mart.
To call Quickie New Orleans’ hip-hop “golden boy” may
seem unsuitable, but the only other descriptor would be
savior. In January 2005, The Times-Picayune did a multiple page
feature on Quickie and his underground comrades, hoping to
shed light on the city’s unknown, unsigned hip-hop artists that
were about more than ass-shakin’ and bling-bling.The Lagniappe
spread featured Quickie and fellow Media Darling Records
emcees and producers bent on bringing new life to Big Easy
hip-hop. They focused on everything from respecting women
to being “dead-broke and proud,” all the while rejecting the
label politics that threatened to corrupt art for art’s sake, and
misrepresent a genre whose roots had nothing to do with
violence or money.
Quickie’s playlist couldn’t consist of the organic underground
alone; the crowd wouldn’t allow it. By midnight Nick’s became
less of a secret and more of a spectacle. The mere existence
of a hip-hop weekly in New Orleans is hard to come by, and
consequently saw patrons more interested in hip-hop’s Top-40
than shit only heard on satellite radio. Quickie acquiesced and
threw on old Tupac and Biggie records as a compromise.
But around two the format changed. Most of the thugs had
smoked themselves stupid, and the only kids remaining were
those with a weakness for blown glass, the b-boys thankful
for a place to stunt and the true underground heads that
surrounded them in honor. Here Quickie had his way with the
wax he played at home, the wax on which the focus was “fam”
and the only thing getting blown up were record contracts and
diamond chains. Here Quickie introduced us to hip-hop’s most
conscious cousins.
Raise the lights, cut the track and shield my eyes as my car
door opens onto Napoleon and Baronne. I finally get to meet
the man whose mixtape introduced me to every artist I’ve
dug in the past year. I can’t wait to discuss the pitfalls of Top40 narcissism, and the new underground philosophy trying to
change all that. I should feel thrilled; I just feel nervous.
“Are you Billie?”
“I am. Nice place.”
“Oh, it’s my manager’s,” Quickie says. “I’m just staying
here for awhile.” He seats me at a table overflowing with
documents endorsing Media Darling Records, his record label
that does a surprisingly good job of promoting what’s billed as
“unpromoted.” Stacks of leaflets adjoin piles of label stickers
and flyers for their “Below Sea Level” tour. I have no room for
my computer.
With Nick’s gone to the gods of geo-thermal weather
patterns, Quickie’s essentially had to start from scratch in a
city that took years to warm up to him. But with Nick’s as
proof of his ability to draw a crowd, post-K prospects were
not hard to find. His first gig had him behind the velvet rope at
NOLA’s newest stage for the twentysomething glitterati, the
Warehouse District’s Republic.
Following format conflicts, Quickie left the Republic to
concentrate on Hookah Café, the Frenchmen Street locale
were he spins every Thursday. Relocating to the couch, I
ask him about the memory of Nick’s and his new Hookah
ANTIGRAVITY: So, tell me about Hookah Café.
Are you excited about that?
Quickie Mart: It’s cool. It’s kinda low, not real loud, and everybody’s
just laid back and chill. You can actually sit down and have a
conversation.Thursday nights is straight underground stuff.
AG: So, kinda like the Nick’s format?
QM: Kinda. I get a lot of people that are like, “I used to go to
Nick’s!” I love that ‘cause that was my favorite weekly. It was
kinda dingy and packed to the walls, but it was like the best
DJ weekly in town at the time. I miss it more than anything.
You can’t take stuff for granted like that. Someone got killed
a couple of blocks away right before the storm. It killed the
crowd. I went from making a lot to making nothing at all.
AG: Yeah, the storm. But it seems like your doing
even better now.
QM: Yeah, I went from playing six nights a week [pre-Katrina]
to playing nothing. It was hard for me to comprehend, you
know? The label had to kinda start from ground zero which
really sucks. I put a lot of money in it even though it’s not
my company. We’re starting from zero. All the contracts are
up. We lost a lot of our investors, and we’re just like starting
from scratch again. But we’re coming
back, you know? Touring again. Starting
to save some money.
AG: New Orleans isn’t exactly
known for its underground
scene. I can’t help but think you
would do better somewhere
else like New York or Los
Angeles where underground
hip-hop has a hold.
QM: Whether they like it or not, we
are New Orleans music. We’re trying to
make the underground known.
AG: That’s nice that you’re
staying here even without the
huge following.
QM:Yeah, I mean, I love New York. I love
going up there, spending money and
stuff, but I don’t think I’d do better as far
as DJ-ing gigs. In places like Los Angeles
or New York, it’s almost impossible to
get and maintain a solid weekly.
AG: Well, it’s nice that you’re
staying out here and helping
us get the word out on the
underground. Isn’t that what
it’s all about anyway?
QM:You’re right. I mean, if I stick with it
I guess the money will come eventually.
AG: So, what are three core
values of underground
QM: DJ is one.
AG: Oh, actually I meant
more like ideas.
QM: Free speech is one. Being able to say whatever the fuck
you want … [At this point, his friends walk in and interrupt.
They share a laugh about something I don’t understand, but are
clear about it not being “on the record.”] What was I saying?
AG: Isn’t hip-hop about not only saying what you want
to say, but about living your life in a different way?
QM: Yeah, if you can make it. I mean, I don’t know. I’m the only
artist on the label that’s kinda making a living off of it. They’re
all pretty poor, you know? Like, I’m getting there.
Saturday, 6/10; Thursday, 6/22;
Saturday 6/24
DJ Quickie Mart, Hookah Cafe,
500 Frenchmen St., (504) 943-1101
Wednesdays: 6/14, 6/21
DJ Quickie Mart, The Pop Bar,
533 Toulouse St., (504) 568-1940
Friday 6/23
DJ Quickie Mart, Shiloh,
4529 Tchoupitoulas, (504) 895-1456
For more info on DJ Quickie Mart, go to:
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
ith names like Nirvana,
Sebadoh and Sleater-Kinney
at the head of its credits, the
roster of Seattle imprint Sub Pop reads like either
a waiting list for the Rock ‘N Roll Hall Of Fame or
the greatest music festival of all time.The venerable
label has, in recent years, transformed into a farm
system for indie-rock luminaries: Its outposts
include promising prospects (Chad VanGaalen,
Kelley Stoltz, Holopaw), mid-level risers (Rogue
Wave, Comets On Fire, Constantines) and
everyday players (Iron & Wine, Wolf Parade,
Shins). Amidst the bad baseball analogy, Band Of
Horses is the brawny rookie breakthrough, the
man among boys. Everything All The Time, the band’s
accomplished March debut, packs in crashing
percussion, towering melodies, layered guitars
and reverb-drenched vocals. On spacey opener
“The First Song,” frontman Ben Bridwell is Doug
Martsch flying with the Flaming Lips; for sturdy
single “The Great Salt Lake,” he’s James Mercer
fronting a steroidal Crazy Horse. ANTIGRAVITY
tracked down the head Horseman in Seattle to
talk about Everything.
ANTIGRAVITY: How are things up in Seattle?
This is your first big headlining tour, correct?
Ben Bridwell: Before the album came out, we toured down to
South By Southwest, and then Seattle. It was like a two week,
two-and-a-half week tour. So this is definitely our first shot to
headline, go test the waters a little.
AG: Has the last year exceeded your expectations?
It has to be thrilling to get so many raves right
off the bat for your first record.
BB: You know what, it is, but I think for any good review, a
bad one will kill like five good ones. So, honestly, no, I wasn’t
prepared for anything like that, for people to get excited
about it critically. But as soon as I saw some of that stuff, I
decided that I should pull myself away from it. Hopefully I’ve
avoided most of it.
AG: It must be strange, though: You’ve
experienced the toil of establishing a band—
Carissa’s Wierd—to little national fanfare, and
now suddenly you’re experiencing the opposite.
BB: We did work for a long time without really getting any
sort of acclaim at all. In Seattle we did pretty
well. And we toured, and had small turnouts,
but we were able to go out and do it. So now,
to be in this band and have it take off so fast,
it’s almost like we could’ve done it before.
We had an option to sign with Sub Pop with
Carissa’s Wierd, and we were like, fuck it,
we’ll keep it really indie and do it ourselves.
[Laughs] But, honestly, when you do that, you
can really shoot yourself in the foot. I think
Carissa’s Wierd was caught shooting itself in
the foot, maybe a little bit on purpose.To have
this band now, doing as well as we’re doing,
or as well as I think we’re doing, it’s fucking
AG: Like, what strange combination
of forces …
BB: It’s ridiculous! You can’t prepare for
anything like that, and you can’t imagine that
anything like that is going to happen, but it
seems that it has, so we’re just kinda staying
AG: Did you immediately know you
wanted to form another band?
BB: We had decided we were going to split up,
that band, on tour. So we rode out the rest
of the tour, and the wheels started turning
during the long ride home. I’d always kind
of thought about it, you know, wondered if
it was something I could do. And when we
got home, no one was using our practice
space—everyone was wishy-washy about
jumping right in to anything. I just when down
there to get some alone time, and messed
around with every instrument and came up
with these songs.
AG: What was the chronology of the
record? Did the songs have a long
gestation period?
BB: Um, let’s see … It was pretty bad at first.
[Laughs] One of the songs that we recorded
that didn’t make the album, but is coming
out on an EP sometime on Sub Pop, it had
like a really bad, modern-rock kind of bridge.
[Laughs] For some reason I thought I had to
throw in a bridge.
AG: Going through a Creed phase.
BB: I guess so! Something like that. It’s so fucking stupid.
AG: So they’re all new compositions then?
BB: Exactly, none of them came from when we were still in
Carissa’s Wierd. They all kind of came in a big bulk.
AG: You and Mat [Brooke] shared the songwriting
BB: Mat wrote two songs on the record, “St. Augustine” and “I
Go To The Barn.” He wrote those, and I wrote the rest of them.
AG: What was your impetus to start writing
songs? Looking for closure on Carissa’s Wierd?
BB: Definitely, man. It was important, I thought, to start
something and be fresh with it, to put the old one to bed and
get something new going.
AG: I read about an aborted outfit between you
and Mat … November 16th?
BB: That was really short-lived. When we were on that tour,
as we were breaking up, we had talked about being in a band
together again and doing new things. So, for a second, we came
in and tried to do some songs. But the commitment—Mat’s
commitment to it and, I guess, my commitment to it—we
were just a little unsure about what we were actually doing.
Like, I wasn’t sure if Mat wanted to get right back into being
the singer for a band again, all that stuff. So, because of that
band not really forming is why I started Horses.
AG: Tell me about Brown Records. That was your
BB: That was my label, yeah. I put out the first Carissa’s Wierd
and the second one, and I put out Jen from Carissa’s Wierd,
her first solo album—that’s called S. And I put out this band
from up here called Aveyo, who later signed to Barsuk. That
was also kind of out of necessity. Carissa’s Wierd, I wasn’t in
the band at that point, but they needed to get a record out.
And I decided I could save up my money and put it out. It
was more like a hobby. I couldn’t do for us what a normal
label could actually do for a band, but it was supposed to be
AG: Nice position to be in with your debut record.
BB: It was great.Well, it wasn’t, actually—it was a really difficult
decision, because they’re both just so great and different in
their own right. So it was really kind of a confusing time, just
figuring out what we’re gonna do.
AG: The first time I saw you was in Gainesville,
Florida, with Sam [Beam].
BB: The Common Grounds?
AG: The Common Grounds, exactly. Great show.
BB: Thanks. What was the time frame?
AG: It was June of last year, I think. Was that
before or after you latched on with Sub Pop?
BB: It must have been a little less than a year before that show
in Florida. Sam came up to play two shows by himself here in
Seattle, and I asked him if we could open up for him and he
obliged. And that’s when Sub Pop bought the demo.
AG: So, there wasn’t much time elapsed after the
Carissa’s Wierd breakup?
BB: Surprisingly, yeah. The songs all started showing
themselves around the same time. I was lucky enough to get
them recorded quick. We did the Sam show,
and he asked us to go on tour that summer.
AG: How was the process of
signing to Sub Pop? Were there any
BB: Total artistic freedom. There was no
compromise even asked of us.
AG: Was Phil Ek your choice to
produce or theirs?
BB: Totally my choice. We had met through
some friends, a while before we had actually
signed a deal with anybody. And I was like,
“If we have the fucking money, Phil, I swear
I’ll use you. But if we’re not on a label that
can give us that kind of money, you’re gonna
have to fuck yourself.” [Laughs] So we talked
about it for so long, and eventually it did
work out that we got to work with Phil. It
was absolutely amazing working with him.
He is owed as much credit as any of the rest
of us. He really turned it on for us.
AG: It’s interesting listening to the
latest Built To Spill record—the first
without Phil at the helm—and then
listening to your record. Can you
pinpoint exactly what Phil brings to
the table as a producer?
BB: At least for me, for this album, it was the
fact that he knew exactly what the album
should sound like, and we didn’t. I mean, at
first we thought we could go in there and play
live, basically; we thought we could get like
a nice live, raw sound going, and just kind of
breeze through them. Phil knew exactly what
the fuck it was supposed to sound like. So he
made us do everything a million fucking times.
There was a lot of screaming. [Laughs] And this
being my first foray into singing on a record,
it was fucking painful. To double and triple up
vocals, stuff like that … He would bust my balls
completely. He would not let me get away with
anything. So his stubbornness, I think, was really
what helped—it’s probably the only reason I’m
talking to you right now. I would’ve easily made
a shitty record. He’s got such a knack for—not
so much just tones, and the way something
should sound, but he’ll hear little bits and pieces of things that
you normally wouldn’t do that he wants you to throw in. He has
a great grand, whole vision of things before you’ve even started.
We’ll definitely be using him again.
“I think for any good review, a bad
one will kill like five good ones. So,
honestly, no, I wasn’t prepared
for anything like that, for people
to get excited about it critically.”
just like a stepping-stone kind of label. I can make sure that
people can get a CD in your hands and hopefully the label
will make you up.
AG: Any thoughts of releasing the Horses debut
on Brown?
BB: Oh, no. I know how bad of a job I do. I can’t even trust
myself to promote myself. Fuck no.
AG: But you cut the demos before you had an
affiliation with Sub Pop.
BB: I recorded the demos—my friend actually recorded them
for me, in our practice space—just to see what was wrong with
the songs, or what was right with the songs. And then later we
put them on to a disc and sold them at shows.That’s when Sub
Pop got a hold of it, and our friends at Barsuk got a hold of it,
and they were interested as well. It took us a little time, but
ultimately we decided to go with Sub Pop in the end.
Friday, 6/23
Band of Horses, Mt. Egypt, the Can t See,
the Parish @ House of Blues, 225 Decatur,
(504)310-4999, 9pm, $12
For more on Band of Horses, go to:
[mpFree approved!]
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
12_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
the blog of lisa haviland
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
here is Daniel Smith?
It’s raining here in
Baton Rouge as I walk my dog and somewhere
in the Pacific Northwest, Daniel Smith and a van
full of strange, strange people are driving about. I can see them
in my mind’s eye. Smiling. Laughing maybe. Probably singing a
sugary little song. You may have forgotten about me, but don’t
think that I’ve forgotten about you, Daniel.
Who is Daniel Smith and why do his carefree travels bother
me? And why should you care? Because May 9 saw the release
of Ships, the latest effort from Danielson, the collective headed
by Smith, a.k.a. Br. Danielson. And don’t be fooled; that “Br.”
stands for “Brother,” as in Christian Brother. That’s right. There’s
something strange happening with Christian music up North.
While most people associate Christian music with Godspell and
pipe organs, musicians like Smith and Ships contributor Sufjan
Stevens have been blazing a holy trail through small bars just
outside the gates of college campuses and down the pipelines
of Soulseek. Consider it bringing the gospel to the indie masses.
But unlike most better-known Christian bands (and you know
who I’m talking about so I’m not going to drag names through
the mud), Danielson are, uh, good.
Very good.
So where is he? It’s May 22
and I’m in Atlanta, visiting my dad
and watching the Flaming Lips; I’m
scheduled to talk to Daniel at 1:30
pm. I scribble down questions in
my journal (shut up): “Ships is much
more rounded and complete. Less
sugar, more substance. Why the
shift?” “How complicated is it to
make noise-pop with a band small
enough to fit in one van?” “How
on Earth did you, a Christian, get
along well enough with Steve
Albini to record with him?” I
glance at my cell; 1:45. Quick call
to Leo, who puts in a quick call to
Secretly Canadian, Smith’s label.
The interview, it seems, has been
rescheduled to Wednesday.
Part of the reason that I’m so
anxious to interview Daniel is
because I myself am a Christian who
is a part of the (and God knows
how much I hate this term) indie
scene. In my imagination, Daniel
and I chat lightly about his music
before moving on to issues with the
American church, the awesomeness
of grace, or good Christian bands
(post-rockers Saxon Shore make
my list). I scratch in my journal
about what it must be like to be a
Christian musician touring in largely
non-Christian venues, playing to
mostly non-Christian people. Are
they hostile? Does the faith get
attacked? Are they patronizing?
Respectful? Do they even care?
Faith would be no issue for you, gentle reader, if Smith’s lyrics
weren’t peppered with references to his relationship with God.
Despite the mile-a-minute, Unicorns-on-speed music which his
fans have come to adore, Smith’s lyrics are straight from the
Confessional, more personal than the Dashboard variety. It
is this insight into the artist that gives Ships its most tender
moments, particularly when the parade stops and Smith quietly
weeps over his guitar. In “When It Comes to You I’m Lazy,”
Smith’s boozy melancholic lament to the lack of vitality in his
spiritual life, mournful trombones and whirring organs transform
the squeakiness of his voice from annoying into heartfelt. It’s
at these sparse, vulnerable moments that the album (and its
author) becomes something real; gone is the man who ate the
one-pound bag of Skittles in favor of man whose spiritual life
looks less like a bottle of Xanax.
These are the sounds being choked from my Camry’s speakers
as I sojourn back to 225. It strikes me now that the manicdepressive state of the music on Ships is perfect for exactly
what I am doing: growing up. I’m 21 years old, Christian for
almost one. Perhaps unintentionally, Danielson have captured
that nervous spirit that life-changing events yield in a person’s
psyche, from the album’s rickety title to its cover’s silver and
blue stars. See, I had violent tension headaches for a while after
my conversion which were caused by my persistent fear that
my inability to be perfect was pissing God off. Smith captures
this tension in the noisy final segment of “Two Sitting Ducks,”
with pianos crashing against overly-dubbed vocals while the
horn section (the Holy Spirit?) wails away in pain. Of course,
“Two Sitting Ducks” plays into the gorgeous “My Lion Sleeps
Tonight,” whose twinkling bells sprinkle down like grace upon
my burning head.
Finally back in Baton Rouge after many slow miles, I settle
down again to interview Daniel Smith. “Hello?” Holy crap, his
voice is just as nasally when he talks as when he sings! With
Dictaphone rolling, and boring preliminary questions out of the
way, I begin the real interview. “How hard is it to make all of the
noise on the record with a six-person band?” Allow me to make
at this point in the article a comment regarding cell phones. Yes,
they’re lovely. But when you’ve been chasing down one of your
musical idols and finally get him on the phone, the last thing
that you want is for him to drive through West Virginia, home
is the most appealing aspect of the Christian faith when it’s
working in your favor, but when you have to dispense it, it’s not
so attractive.
A few days pass. I have yet to hear from Br. Danielson, which
was initially a relief given the amount of work which looms over
my head, but that work includes this very interview, so I give him a
ring again. “The publicist didn’t get back to you? I told him to set
up another interview.” Another quick call to Leo, a quick call back
from Secretly Canadian, where I am assuredly on speed dial by
now. Sunday at 1:30. Daniel was in the Eastern Time Zone when
I last attempted to talk to him. His publicist nonchalantly tells me
that Daniel will be somewhere in the Mountain Time Zone when I
next talk to him. Two days and he’s halfway across the country.
Danielson.info, the collective’s website, details an anecdote
from Daniel’s sixth grade band class. One fine day, a kid named
Billy left the band room only to discover upon his return that his
prized silver trumpet’s bell had been caved in. Billy immediately
accused Daniel, who, like any good sixth grader would, quickly
denied any wrongdoing. But that
was 20 years ago. Daniel states
on the website, “I really do not
know if I stepped on it or not. I
feel like I may have.” As some sort
of bizarre 20-years-too-late act
of penance, Smith recorded “Did
I Step On Your Trumpet?” as an
apology, encouraging his fans to
make amends with anyone whom
they have accidentally offended by
politely asking, “Did I step on your
trumpet?” The move has become
the major marketing campaign
behind Ships, with fans writing
their apologies on a 3x5 card and
mailing them to Daniel, who in turn
personally inserts a “Did I step on
your trumpet?” pin and mails it out
to the offended.
“Perhaps unintentionally, Danielson
have captured that nervous spirit
that life-changing events yield in a
person’s psyche...”
of mountains, moonshine, and apparently not enough people to
warrant a decent phone tower. “Let me call you back from a
truck stop,” I pull from the static. That’s fine. I’ll be here.
Now, for those who do not know, the most crucial tenet of
the Christian faith is that of grace. Like I mentioned before,
grace was the secret anodyne for my miserable headaches.
Grace tells me that God loves me exactly the way that I am, that
I don’t have to look like everyone else in my church and that I
don’t have to watch the same movies, listen to the same bands,
or vote for the same politicians. God just wants me to love
Him. Grace causes every single sin I could ever commit, from
the theft of a car to the relatively innocuous (but still grievous
against God) itty bitty white lie, to be completely overlooked
by God. For those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible
teaches, there is no punishment for sin. Of course, the love of
God in a person’s life should compel them not to, uh, smoke
crack or anything like that, but grace exists to erase any and
every stupid thing, past and future. As Christians, Daniel and
I are called to distribute this same sort of grace to the world
(You remember the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses, as
we forgive those who trespass against us.”). Put shortly, grace
“Hi, this is Daniel Smith. Please
leave a message.” It’s Sunday, and
this is what my end of the phone
gets at 1:30 pm. I try again 30
minutes later. With a thousand
apologies, Daniel explains that the
interviewer before me ran over
time and the group is now eating in
a Cracker Barrel in North Dakota
and can he call me back when they
are done eating? Sure thing, I say.
Sure thing.
As of this writing, I have yet to
interview Daniel Smith. We have
an appointment for 4:00 tomorrow,
seven hours past ANTIGRAVITY’s
deadline. To his credit, every time
that I have talked to him, Daniel
has been incredibly friendly and very apologetic concerning the
situation. He just forgot to call me back, and I can forgive him
for that. See, one of the hard things about being a Christian is
that people expect us to be angels on Earth. We are never to
lose our temper, never to offend anyone in any way, never to
pass judgment. That’s a tough image to live up to. But that’s the
beauty of grace. I’ll tell you right now, I’ve sinned like 50 times in
the writing of this piece alone. I’ve lied (ooh, try to find it!), I’ve
cheated (I read other people’s reviews), and I’ve procrastinated
like a bandit (sloth, frighteningly enough, is a sin). But if God’s
grace can forgive me for all of that and for implying that I may
one day steal a car, then surely I can forgive Daniel Smith for
stepping on my trumpet.
Wednesday, 7/5
Danielson, Spanish Moon, 1109 Highland Rd.,
(225) 383-MOON
For more info on Danielson, go to:
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
take to the sky
by miles britton
lot’s changed for Deadboy & The
Elephantmen since ANTIGRAVITY last talked
with them a little over a year ago. Back then,
frontman Dax Riggs and drummer Tess Brunet were New
Orleans’ best kept secret, unsigned and still a few months shy
of recording their then unnamed debut. But once the haunting
garage rock of We Are Night Sky hit the nation in February,
there’s been no holding them back. Four-star reviews in Rolling
Stone and Maxim, a tour opening up for Fat Possum labelmate
the Fiery Furnaces, a lengthy spot on NPR’s Weekend Edition,
and gigs at everything from Sasquatch Fest to the upcoming
Lollapalooza.You would think that all that success would have
gone to their head, but the local-band-done-good will still take
the time for us (or maybe we’re that big, hmmm). AG caught
up with Tess on the road, in a hotel somewhere in Vancouver.
ANTIGRAVITY: So how’s the tour been going?
Tess Brunet: Good, good. Tiring, but good. Musically, it’s been
going really well. We’ve been playing with a lot of different
bands, and their audiences have been really receptive. And
there’s been a pretty good crossover of fans from Dax’s old
bands [Acid Bath, Agents Of Oblivion], even though we sound
quite different. So there’s sort of this permanent, built-in fan
base for whatever he does. But there’s a lot of people who like
what he’s doing now that have no idea of his previous stuff, and
may not have necessarily even liked it.
AG: You were on the road with Fiery Furnaces for
a while. What was that like?
TB: [Laughs] They’re kind of like librarians. You know, just kind
of quiet. It took a long time to get to that point where we
could actually joke around. The last couple of shows of the
month tour, I felt like we were just getting to the point where
we all could kind of open up. But it’s always such a weird thing
for bands that don’t know each other to be thrown together.
I mean, you don’t know them, and all of a sudden you’re
having to work together everyday for the next month. And
sometimes its works the opposite way, where you open up
to people right away and then towards the end it gets weird.
Someone in one band ends up getting pissed off at someone
in the other band…
AG: Really? It’s so funny, as an audience member,
you never even think about all that Behind The
Music-type stuff. You just assume all the bands
get along as one big happy family.
TB: Matt and Eleanor were really nice, though. And Jason
Lowenstein from Sebadoh was on tour with them playing bass,
and he’s super cool to be around. He just had one of those
energies and spirits that brought this calmness to everything
that made life a lot easier for me on the road. Not to sound
all hippie-dippy or anything.
AG: You all have really blown up since the last
time I interviewed you. I just recently heard that
spot they did about you on NPR…
TB:Yeah, I got a lot of e-mails about that. And it was really kind
of neat because it was all from people who had never heard
us before, but, you know, listen to NPR every morning. They
were really excited to learn about us.
AG: And I read on your website that you’re going
to be on the Henry Rollins TV show?
TB: Yeah, that’s airing in June, but we actually shot that about
a month ago.
AG: I didn’t even know Rollins had a TV show. So
was it like a talk show, like Rollins interviewing you?
TB: Sort of, but he actually wasn’t there. He was on a spoken
word tour in Amsterdam or somewhere. But I think they’re
going to edit it to look like he’s there. [Laughs]
AG: So what’s next for you? Any thoughts yet on
a new album?
TB: We actually just started talking about that yesterday. We
have this block of a month and 10 days off coming up after
Bonnaroo, so that’s when were planning on concentrating
on the new songs, working all that stuff out so we can start
recording the next album. We probably have enough material
for two albums. Now it’s just a matter of picking the songs we
really want to focus on.
16_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
AG: Any change in the sound?
TB: No, it’s similar to We Are Night Sky. The way the songs
are written, and the process and where the songs come from,
that’s all the same. But we might add some different sounds
to it. Though only change we’ve had recently is that we have a
bass player now for tour, Alex. He’s been with us for a couple
AG: That’s a fairly big change. Do you think he
could become a permanent member?
TB: I’m not really sure. We’ve always discussed the possibility
of another member, but we’re just going to see how it goes on
this tour for whether or not we’ll have him on the next one.
But I think probably so. It seems to be going pretty well.
AG: And last question. Lollapalooza—are you
psyched? That’s something we’ve been dreaming
about playing since we were kids.
TB: Ummm, to tell you the truth, I’m actually more excited
about Bonnaroo for some reason. I don’t know why. Probably
because I just recently heard about Bonnaroo, and it’s not
something that has been around for that long. I’ve been to
Lollapalooza a couple of times when I was younger, and it’s
not really a mixture of ages. It’s like the Warped Tour, just a
bunch of young, young kids. It’s not like Jazz Fest or something,
where there’s everybody from babies to old people with
walking sticks. There’s something about that that’s really nice.
Honestly, I’d play Jazz Fest over Lollapalooza any day.
Saturday, 6/24
Deadboy & The Elephantmen, Ballzack,
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., (504) 569-8361
For more on Deadboy & The Elephantmen, go to:
allzack is one of those personalities that
could only be borne out of New Orleans.
Like the city, Ballzack seems able to make sense of all
that is good and really bad through therapeutic doses of wit
and humor. His first two records touch on everything from
transgendered Asians to schoolyard antics to hand jobs to
suburban malaise, but while the themes are always comedic, the
stories are told through the guise of someone who is forever
self-mocking in his jibes. Hence, you can’t blame him when he
says, “Action figure porn, origami vibrator/I think she really liked
me even though she made me pay her/I used to be a groupie
for Striper and Slayer/I know it sounds gay but my cousin’s even
gayer.” When Ballzack is sticking it to someone else, he’s also
sticking it to himself.
Ballzack is currently working on a third album that is
somewhat a divergence from his past projects. Although surely
retaining the playfulness that is characteristic of his material,
Ballzack plans to release a record in the fall that will consist
entirely of bounce music. As he explains, the idea to make a
bounce record came from the recording of a song for a WTUL
compilation disc. The track, “Wine Candy,” is a hodgepodge
tribute to the lifestyle (and local products) of New Orleans laid
over traditional bounce beats. The upcoming record promises
to build upon the lyrical and musical content of the single.
ANTIGRAVITY was lucky enough to join Ballzack on his cab
ride home from the airport after he returned to New Orleans
from an extended stay in New York. During the 20-minute trip
to the Westbank, we talked about his new record while pausing
intermittently to discuss prostitutes, record collecting and Cstudent governments.
ANTIGRAVITY: So, you just got back from NYC.
What were you doing up there?
Ballzack: I had some meetings with some guys who were really
interested in what I’m doing, but my whole thing was, “I don’t
care how much money you’re going to throw at me, if you don’t
understand what I’m doing and don’t really get my music, you’re
not going to be the right people to put out this record.”
AG: Did they at least show you a good time?
BZ: Sure, they threw a bunch of money at me just to get me up
there to meet with them. They took me out, threw lots of drugs
in my face, but I turned them down.You know, I don’t do drugs.
Strippers. Prostitutes. Dildos. But the bottom line is I can make
more money independent, and I don’t care if you signed the
Beatles, Steely Dan or Megadeth. I’m happy just to sell records
to the people on my street.They just didn’t get it up there. They
even wanted me to go the Bloodhound Gang angle. Make me a
clown and bullshit. Forget it.
AG: So what’s the new record going to be like?
BZ: The theme is going to be bounce music; New Orleans
bounce music.
AG: So it’s new original Ballzack material—only
BZ: Well, it’s as original as bounce music can be. There’s a
standard bounce formula and we are trying to pay homage to
that formula but at the same time trying to break out of it and
do new things with it—just do bounce songs that no one has
done before. Of course, there are the standard Triggerman Beat
bounce songs, but we’re making space bounce songs and punk
bounce songs … well, maybe not punk bounce songs.
AG: Have you always been a fan of bounce music?
BZ: Well, I’ve always been big on stuff like Manny Fresh and
especially earlier stuff like TT Tucker, DJ Jubilee and DJ Irv. I
mean, in New Orleans you didn’t have to go far to hear the
music. Plus, my dad owned a store in the St. Thomas projects
where he would hire DJs like TT Tucker and all those other guys
to perform outside in the front of the store.That was back in the
‘80s when that whole scene was really getting momentum. That
might have been the inception of my interest in the music—I
don’t know. But I remember always wanting to make a bounce
record. There was some other stuff I needed to get out of my
system first, but now the time is right.
AG: Who are you working with during the making
of the album?
BZ: Well, the album is being co-produced, recorded and
engineered by Jay Yuenger. He helped me record “Wine Candy”
for the WTUL compilation disc and it went over pretty well.
We had a lot of fun doing it and we thought we would make a
whole album that would pay homage to New Orleans rap. So,
we did it.
AG: How has the process been thus far? Has it been
challenging to change gears from the content on
the previous two records to something different?
BZ: Not really. We’ve been having fun with it. I’ve always felt
that you should make songs that you want to hear, and that’s
what I try to do. I always ask myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool for
someone to make a song about pencil crack or making groceries
or whatever?” So, I just make them. That’s why there are going
to be different themes and variations on the record … I mean,
I don’t think anyone has ever made a space bounce song or
talked about time machines over bounce beats. We just try to
do something new.With this one, we just want people to enjoy it
and have fun with it. But sure, I make the songs and then I listen
to them and love myself …
AG: So, you’re a fan of your own work?
BZ: Yes, I actually own every single one of my CDs. I am a
Ballzack album collector. Every copy I own of my own CDs is
an autographed copy. And I will never run out of autographed
copies unless I run out of me.
AG: Would you ever sell your collection?
BZ: I would never part with my autographed copies.Well, maybe
I would. I know a guy who sells them. I could find more.
AG: Well, back to the new project—when this record
comes out, do you plan to hit the road with it?
BZ: No. I don’t want to tour. I don’t know why. I know I don’t
want to tour any farther than the southeast. I mean, going out to
some place you’ve never heard of in some van to try to start a
following just doesn’t do it for me. I mean, did BG have to tour?
[Laughs] Probably not. I mean, he had followings in a lot of cities
but it had nothing to do with touring. I’m lucky to have fans in
other cities but it’s not because of touring—the power of the
internet, I guess.
AG: It sounds like you’re really happy to be in
New Orleans. Do you have any reservations about
staying here?
BZ: I love to be able to stay in New Orleans. Sure, it might get
destroyed but we’ve lived with that risk even before. It’s not much
different, it’s just now we’re more aware of the consequences
and know what it actually looks like. So, I’m going to stick it out.
I love the city and couldn’t go anywhere else. But I do wish New
Orleans would get its act together. It really seems like a city run
by C students.
AG: Maybe not even C …
BZ: Yeah, not even C students—D students. It’s a bunch of
people educated in the same bad school system who end up
running that same bad school system.
AG: And when they get elected, they use the fact
that they grew up here and were educated here as
a selling point.
BZ: Yeah, to say you grew up here is something to be proud of
but not to say you’re educated here. I mean, that’s the truth. I was
educated here, but I wouldn’t rely on that to run for office. Still, I
really hope they get their act together. When you go to another
city, you realize how a city is really supposed to operate. It’s just a
mixture of incompetence and corruption. I hope they really care
and just don’t say they do to get where they want to go.
AG: Well, it looks like we’re here. Anything else
you want to add?
BZ: If anyone has a picture of Tom Foot, please send it to me
through my website or on MySpace. I can’t find a picture of Tom
Foot anywhere.
AG: Will do.
BZ: Oh yeah … pay the driver.
Saturday, 6/24
Ballzack, Deadboy & The Elephantmen,
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., (504) 569-8361
For more on Ballzack, go to:
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
18_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
the to ag ast
ta luence
me and ma
his is in an era of unparalleled
awareness for the art of cartooning.
Between George Bush’s uncanny ability to stimulate
political cartoonists, the now-infamous Danish Muhammad
cartoons, animated series based on strips like Aaron McGruder’s
Boondocks, and—while much tamer—the domination of the
box office by comic icons Spider-Man, Superman and Batman,
more people are experiencing comics than ever before. One
comic strip that can run the gamut of emotions produced by all
the above is Keith Knight’s the K Chronicles, a unique foray into
politics, pop culture and human emotions.
Keith Knight is just as likely to reference Star Wars as he
is to mention his mother, and in any given strip you may be
treated to the lighthearted optimism of “Life’s Little Victories,”
a theme that celebrates the times when the simple things in life
go your way, or an unabashed send-up of Dick Cheney’s latest
hunting misadventure. When you may least expect it, Knight
can deliver a heart wrenching or heartwarming slice of life;
whether it’s his wife’s cancer-scare (she’s okay), the death of an
influential artist (like comic great Will Eisner) or a tribute to
the people of the Gulf Coast.
Knight’s not a Johnny-come-lately; some hanger-on to
McGruder’s faux-provocativeness–he’s a seasoned professional
creating comics for over twelve years. He started out as a
caricature artist in his hometown of Boston and, once he moved
to indie-comic mecca San Francisco, worked his way from
‘zine artist to full-fledged newspaper comics page contributor.
Since the K Chronicles became entrenched in national and
international publications, he’s started a second strip, (th)ink,
a comic created in single panel style (a la a serious Far Side)
meant to take on race and politics. He’s also illustrated a book
called The Beginner’s Guide To Community-Based Arts, a book that
tells the stories of several activists from across the country
who use art to improve the life of their communities.
The man’s got legs, as they say, and one method he’s used to
accumulate fans is his slideshow, an indie-comics convention
favorite. Knight hosts the show like a comedian, moving through
pics of his strips and elaborating on their history like the
college professor you always wished you had. ANTIGRAVITY
has been on the Keith Knight train since the beginning–the K
Chronicles was the first strip ever published in this magazine,
and when an opportunity to host a slideshow presented itself
we pounced on it. AG presents the Keith Knight slideshow
in the latter part of June, and we spoke with Knight about
growing up in Boston, working for ESPN and MAD, and some
of his more controversial strips, like the one where he smoked
crack with God.
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
ANTIGRAVITY: Let’s talk about The K Chronicles
a bit. What were some of your influences for the
strip at the beginning of your career? How have
those influences evolved?
Keith Knight: Early influences include MAD, Garry Trudeau’s
Doonesbury, Berke Breathed’s Bloom County, Bill Watterson’s
Calvin and Hobbes, Warner Bros. cartoons (especially Chuck
Jones, but also Robert McKimson’s stuff), the cartoons in
Parliament/Funkadelic albums and Charles Schulz’s Peanuts.
Then, after moving to San Francisco, I discovered the legacy
of underground comics. Matt Groening, Nina Paley, Jaime
Crespo, Pete Bagge, Robert Crumb, Harvey Pekar and Harvey
Kurtzman, plus the humor of Paul Mooney, Richard Pryor and
Bill Hicks helped shape the strip into what it is now.
AG: How did growing up in Boston influence your
KK: Well, you’re totally influenced by your surroundings and
Boston’s known as a pretty racist place, though you don’t
really realize it when you’re growing up there. When you
go someplace else they’re like, “Oh my God, you grew up in
Boston, that must’ve been crazy.” I grew up with different
types of people, so that was a big influence. And lobster rolls
and the Red Sox. Hip-hop was a big thing, but they never let
hip-hop groups play in Boston; it was pretty much banned. You
had to go to Providence, Rhode Island to see a lot of
bands and stuff. I remember Run DMC played at the
Metro in ‘83, and Madonna played there too.
AG: Was cartooning a big deal in the Boston area?
KK: It was a big deal for me, obviously, but I don’ t
know that it was a big deal in the area. My cousin Joel
and my friend PJ used to do comics too. We’d all do
the same characters, like it was our own company or
something. I was influenced by them and I’m sure they
were influenced by me. And by influenced I mean that
they quit (laughs). I know I learned a lot from those
AG: When did you realize cartooning was
what you wanted to do?
KK: When I was a junior in high school I read Animal
Farm in an English class. I had all these other books,
Catcher in the Rye, one by Jack London, Treasure Island–I
never read any of them, but I really liked Animal Farm.
For some reason I could relate to farm animals. We
had to do book reports and I told my teacher, “There’s
no way I can do justice to this,” and he let me do
a parody of Animal Farm in comic form. Instead of
animals taking over a farm, I did students taking over
my high school. I had myself, my friends and all these
other people in it, and caricatures of teachers. Instead
of rules like “four legs good, two legs bad,” it was like
“under 18 good, over 18 bad.” The teacher loved it,
and my only regret is that he scribbled over the whole
thing. I got an A++, and he said I should be doing a
syndicated cartoon strip.
AG: What did that lead to?
KK: It was the first time I’d heard “syndicate,” and was
like, “whoa.” I had no idea about anything, so I did up
a bunch of cartoons and went to my local paper and
said, “I’m ready to be a cartoonist.” The guy was like,
“You’re such a cute little boy, but we get our strips
through a syndicate.” So, as a junior in high school I sent my
strips off to a syndicate and never heard back (laughs). I got
into my high school newspaper, then my college newspaper,
then I moved to San Francisco and did a ‘zine, and then got into
some papers and magazines out there.
AG: What prompted you to move to San Francisco?
KK: I had a job drawing caricatures in Boston that was the
cushiest job in the world. You sit on your ass all day, in the
sun, and it’s beautiful women all over the place. I was good
at drawing gags and making people laugh, so I made a lot of
money at a young age. In the late ‘80s I was making anywhere
from $15 to $30 an hour and then meeting women, going on
break during happy hour, just having a good time. There was a
guy who worked at the caricature place for like 30 years. He
was a very large man who sat there all the time, and I saw me
and him there 30 years from then. He was like, “Get out now.”
I don’t even think he said that, it might have been a vision I
had. Then there was another artist there who was very good,
and he’d get sent nationwide for jobs, and he got sent to San
Francisco. He came back and said that it was a gigantic version
of all the places I hung out at in Boston. When I got out of
college I just saved over that last summer, then took a few
thousand bucks to San Francisco and never looked back.
AG: What are some of the differences in moral
sensibilities in different parts of the country
where your strips run?
KK: There’s this East Coast mentality I have that’s way different
than the California mentality. I think it helps that I live on the
West Coast but have that East Coast mentality. A lot of people
get that humor. The only way to describe it is that in California
people have an insincerity almost, like “I’ll call you, blah blah
blah” and you never get a call, where on the East Coast they’ll
just say “Eff you, get out of my face.” That I miss, and I live
vicariously through my comics.
The places I have the most trouble running things are
in San Francisco and Orange County, just over the Golden
Gate bridge. There’s this kind of bizarre, uptight sensibility of
“Oh no, we’re afraid of offending white people.” I drew myself
smoking crack. It was a joke, and the fact that Charleston,
North Carolina and all these places would run it and this one
editor wouldn’t is just weird. Living out here, there’s almost
an arrogance that everyone’s so open-minded that they have
a stick up their butts. Again, at least on the East Coast they’ll
tell you. I did this thing called “Cruel Joke To Play On a Black
Jogger,” which is this white guy walking down the street and
sees a black jogger pass by. The white guy screams “Thief!”
The next panel the cops show up and start beating the jogger,
That garnered more e-mails than I’d gotten in years. Tons and
tons of e-mails and letters. People offering everything from
their thoughts and stories to doctors from WebMD writing
and a hospital in Boston offering their services. Amazing, nice
letters. It was overwhelming, and I didn’t realize how many
readers I had until that happened. I saved all of those, and some
day I’m going to incorporate them into a slideshow.
After 9/11, when I started questioning what George Bush was
doing–some people just don’t believe you should question the
AG: Was that feedback from actual readers or
people who just stumbled upon it? You wouldn’t
think people who read the strip on a regular basis
would be that surprised.
KK: You’d be surprised. There were people who wrote me
saying that I shouldn’t do politics, or that I should watch my
mouth. Some people were concerned. Granted, I did get
more political after 9/11, but it’s not like I was doing something
completely different than I was doing before. I’m sure if people
looked back at what they wrote then they might be ashamed.
AG: How’d you get your gigs at ESPN and MAD?
KK: This is advice for any cartoonist coming up–it’s
perseverance. I’ve been around for twelve years now, and
people who grow up liking your strip then work at papers or
magazines and they get into positions where they can
hire you. The guy at MAD, Jon Bresman, was a fan who
lived in Berkeley. He was an intern at MAD and rose
up to editor. That’s one of the highlights of my career,
being in MAD. It’s one of those magazines that, when
people ask where I’m printed, you can tell them and
they get it. ESPN happened because a friend of mine,
Dave Eggers, worked on the magazine. We did cartoons
for the same paper for awhile. They were looking for a
cartoonist and he recommended me. When I talked to
them I told them I was from Boston and grew up with
the Red Sox (before they won the ‘04 World Series), so
it may have been a little sympathy on their end.
AG: What are some of the challenges in
doing sports strips?
KK: It’s funny you say that, because I’m on deadline
now. Because the magazine comes out every two
weeks, it’s got to be good ten days from now, so it can’t
be of the moment. I did a strip about how Detroit
was suddenly a big sports town–they’d just held the
Super Bowl, the Red Wings were favored (to win the
Stanley Cup), the Pistons are favored to go all the way,
the Tigers are in first place, but all of a sudden the Red
Wings get knocked out in the first round, the Pistons
might get knocked out, and by the time the magazine
comes out the Tigers may not be in first place.
AG: Politically, how do you incorporate
your views into the strips, and is there a
worry that you might get too overbearing?
KK: Sometimes you don’t know you’re being overbearing
until it happens. I haven’t done too many political
strips lately because I’m worn out by it. If someone
had suggested all the things that have happened since
2000, how ludicrous would it have been? At this point,
nothing would surprise me, even if they said they were
grinding children in the White House basement and
and the white guy’s walking away and whistling. People called selling the meat to McDonalds. I’m starting to focus on other
me a racist. I’d actually done the strip a long time ago, and things because that’s so depressing and it doesn’t seem like it’s
nothing happened, and reran it not long after the whole Danish going to change any time soon. So much stuff has happened,
Muhammad cartoon thing, so I think people were bent out of who wants to become President next?
shape about that. It happened in Colorado and on a college AG: It’s like the sports coach mentality. You don’t
campus in Salem. The whole country got tight, I guess.
want to be the guy who follows the guy, you want
AG: And that was after the “Smoking Crack with to be the guy who follows the guy who followed
God” strip.
the guy.
KK: That ran everywhere.
KK: I might incorporate that into a strip soon. We hold our
AG: So there are two strips with you smoking sports teams and coaches more responsible for their behavior
than we do our government. Grady Little got fired from the
KK: Yeah. “Smoking Crack with God” was just so over the Red Sox because he didn’t take Pedro out early enough, but we
top. The other one I wasn’t really smoking crack. I said, “Oh, don’t have that kind of accountability with our government.
lookee here, all this crack and no one to smoke it with,” and it AG: You’ve been to New Orleans a number
was me standing next to this giant rock. I did “Smoking Crack of times–what are some of your New Orleans
with God” after because it was so over the top, and it’s me and experiences?
God smoking crack. You’d think they wouldn’t run that one, but KK: I first came to New Orleans during an Association of
I guess that’s less realistic than God hating people. I mean God Alternative Newsweeklies Convention. I was part of a group
made crack, why wouldn’t he smoke it?
of indie cartoonists that was being ignored by all the editors.
AG: Besides the controversial ones, from what We’d all go out into the night and have an amazing time
strips have you gotten the most feedback?
drinking, partying and complaining. At the same time, my friend
KK: I did a series of strips where my wife was diagnosed with a (and writer of the Beginner’s Guide to Community-Based Arts)
tumor in her chest. The strips had her going in for the operation. Mat Schwarzman had just moved to town and was living in
20_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
the Treme. I was staying there and checking out the Mardi Gras Indian Museum just around
the corner and hitting a lot of local spots and meeting some amazing people. I was getting
both the tourist and the local experience at the same time. I remember meeting Ray Nagin
while he was campaigning for Mayor the first time. Man, it seems so long ago. Anyway, I fell
in love with the city like everybody else does and came back a number of times for Jazz Fest
and to work on the Beginner’s Guide. And I try to do New Orleans right when I mention the
city in my strips.
AG: You’re coming to New Orleans because of the Beginner’s Guide to
Community-Based Arts. What’s the book about, and how did you get
involved with it?
KK: It was all Mat
Schwarzman’s idea. The
idea behind the book is
that there are all these
amazing artists around
the country using their
art to address community
issues and create change,
yet there was no book
that encompassed the
methods and celebrated
the outcomes of what
everybody was doing. He
had me contribute to a
sort of teaser version of
the book that he could
show to funders and
it received some good
feedback, so we started
to move forward on the
real version. Mat went
around the country and
artists and organizations
that used art to address
interviews, sent them
to me and I formulated
these comic strip stories
from them. It was a five
year project that was a
grueling process, but it was worth it in the end. Since being released this past October, the
book has been added to the curriculum of ten different colleges around the nation, including
Harvard University and Columbia in Chicago.
AG: What are some of the differences in drawing for the Beginner’s Guide
and doing the K Chronicles or (th)ink?
KK: Going beyond one page is neat, and I get to draw larger. Plus it wasn’t just coming
from me. Mat interviewed people, and while it was a nightmare listening to all that tape, it
was fun making a story out of it. I didn’t meet any of the artists until years after I’d finished
the drawing, though I’d looked at tons of pictures. I picked up on things that I didn’t realize
before, like their senses of humor. The best thing about it is that it brought me to New
Orleans for the first time.
AG: One of the more popular aspects to your convention appearances is
your slideshow. How are these put together and how does the audience
get to interact?
KK: Well, I look for strips that read like I’m doing stand-up comedy. The drawings make
it all the more effective. And I’ve done it enough to hone it to a smooth-running machine.
Hopefully, the audience finds the strips funny, and I hope they think about stuff, too. I also
have a post-slideshow Q & A that usually yields some really great questions.
AG: Finally, when you get to New Orleans, what are you looking forward
to the most?
KK: Gosh, there are too many things. I think the biggest thing is reconnecting with all
the folks I know and hearing from them how the rebuilding of New Orleans is going. I
really want to hear the personal stories instead of the frustrating bullshit that we get in the
mainstream media and political hot-head talk shows. And a few more: Verti Marte, Hubig’s
pies, Jacque-Imo’s, Monday nights at Donna’s, WWOZ, the kids at YAYA, Mat’s dog, Crawfish
boils, “Palmetto Bugs,” Blackened Catfish Nuggets, and that unique combination of vomit,
urine, cheap liquor and squalor that is the odor of Bourbon Street.
Friday 6/23
Keith Knight Presents a K Chronicles Slideshow, Handsome
Willy s, 218 South Robertson St., (504) 525-0377, 7pm
For more on Keith Knight, go to:
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
Kevin McShane
Toupydoups #1-2
(Lobrau Productions)
magine a Hollywood where comics
are bigger than movies... a place
where Peter Parker is a bigger star
than Tom Cruise. A town run not by
movie studios, but by comic book
Now imagine that comic book
characters have a life of their
own, that they have to audition for parts in comics, that they
might start out in a college humor strip as the equivalent of
doing theatre work and then move out to Hollywood to try out
for work in the “majors” of Image, DC and Marvel. That’s the
high concept of Toupydoops, and it’s a pretty good one. Starting
from this strong basic premise, Kevin McShane launches his
new independent series with strong cartooning skills and whipsmart comic timing to provide one of the few potential indy
breakouts in an industry dominated by multi-part crossovers
of a continuity-bending nature.
It’s pretty clear in reading
Toupydoops that it is the outgrowth of
Kevin McShane’s college comic strip
into a comic book. The characters
read like they came out of a college
humor strip, being a man/bear cross
and a guy who is either a man/bug or
just has weird blue skin and antennae
for no particular reason. They have
a pet monkey who smokes and
plays videogames and displays a bad
attitude.They might as well have “look
at us, we’re quirky” t-shirts on. Oddly
enough, though, while this kind of
quirkiness can easily read as forced or
unfunny, McShane pulls it off in part
because their stereotypical comic strip
nature is part of the gag. These guys
are bit players in the world of comics
looking to make the big move up. Or
at least, Toupydoops is–his roommate
Teetereater (what is up with these
names?) seems more like the kind of
hangers-on exemplified by Turtle in
HBO’s Entourage, supportive of their
friends insomuch as they can make
their friends famous and rich enough
to not have to work anymore.
With premise and characters firmly established in the first
four pages of the book, including a new quirky character,
flamboyantly fabulous landlord Auntie Nathan, McShane moves
right into establishing the tone of the book. There’s a terrific
one-page gag involving moving a couch that establishes his
ability to tell a joke, and Nathan comes back to the couch
later on to reinforce McShane’s timing and ability to pay off
a setup. Then the first issue splits off, with Toupy going into
the world of spoof comics and Teetereater battling it out
with a six-foot cockroach in their apartment. While Toupy’s
story is full of references to Superman and Vertigo (DC’s line
of mature comics), Teeter’s covers the world of movies and
videogames, with a dead-on evocation of Street Fighter II battles
and a tossed-off Ghostbusters reference that works perfectly in
context. Pop culture references can easily become tired, but
when used to flavor the piece instead of being the whole point
of dialogue, they work, and that’s what McShane serves up with
his references here.
You see, the references are never the point of the scenes
in Toupydoops. The Street Fighter II echoes, with the cockroach
borrowing Dhalsim’s moves as Mr. Bananas plays the game in the
background, are accents on the amusing scene of a man battling
it out with a giant cockroach. Superman is there to allow Toupy
to make a fool out of himself, and to point out Toupy’s role in
the new hierarchy of comic book stars. Toupydoops plays out
like the pilot episode of a better-than-average sitcom, clearly
establishing characters, premise and tone and providing plenty
of laughs, not worrying too much about a grand over-arcing plot
or even relationship arcs at this point.
The relationships are saved for the second issue, where
McShane starts to develop the book a little bit more as an
ongoing concern. It’s still essentially a gag, one-off concept,
making Toupydoops that rare creature, a comic that can be read
as standalone issues, but it develops the romantic situation
for the main characters and presents a new character who I
think could become a regular in that department. McShane also
skewers the L.A. club scene as effectively as he did breaking
into the entertainment business in issue one and reinforces the
dynamic between Teeter and Toupy, which is that ever-popular
“good with the ladies/not-so-good with the ladies” dynamic.
Issue two closes out with a four-page strip originally
submitted to the Small Press Expo anthology and rejected,
McShane suggests, “probably for being too awesome.” He’s
being tongue-in-cheek, but he’s right, because this strip is
a dead-on parody of Brian Bendis’s Fortune & Glory, showing
Toupy and Teeter going around trying to sell the book. In fact,
the description I quoted at the beginning of the review comes
from their pitch. This four-pager perfectly nails Bendis’s style,
spoofs Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, DC Comics
VP and Executive Editor Dan Didio and Spawn creator and
Image Comics founder Todd McFarlane and ends on a great
sight gag. It’s a great little bonus, and with that and two full
issues under McShane’s belt, I feel pretty confident in predicting
that Toupydoops has plenty of life in it as a funny book.
The main weakness Toupydoops has, frankly, is the name,
which is the name of the main character but sounds both offputting and overly goofy and does nothing to describe the book.
Everyone that I’ve personally told about the concept of the
book has responded by saying that it sounds like fun, but not
one of them picked up a book named Toupydoops off the shelf
thinking that the Hollywood/comics spoof I described might
be contained within. There’s a certain whimsical fun to saying
the name of the book once you know what it’s about, but as a
marketing tool the name could probably use some adjustment.
22_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
There are two issues of Toupydoops out so far, with another
due in July. For more information on Toupydoops, you can check
out http://www.lobrau.com/, which includes previews of #3 as
well as early Toupydoops strips and other material.
These comics aren’t out yet, and in fact won’t be hitting the
market until July, but you might want to keep an eye out, because
I think they’re going to be good.
The Escapists #1 (Dark Horse) - Despite a remarkably
impressive array of talent (they got Will Eisner, for God’s sake!)
on the Adventures of the Escapist books from Dark Horse, I
was never quite able to plug into Michael Chabon’s invented
Golden Age-style hero and his escapades. Until the last issue,
when Brian Vaughan, Phillip Bond and Eduardo Barreto ran the
first installment of The Escapists, a meta story about a young
comic book team trying to revive the Escapist character in
modern times. This kind of thing has been done before, comics
that focus on the comics makers, but the first chapter was just
riveting stuff, and Bond and Barreto were bringing their A-game.
Then the book was cancelled.
The good news (especially for those, like me, who found
the Escapist anthology a little pricey for its total entertainment
value) is that The Escapists feature has been rescued to run
as its own miniseries, with Steve
Rolston and Jason Alexander picking
up the art chores. The even better
news for those who missed it is
that the first issue of The Escapists,
presumably reprinting that first
chapter, is going to be available on its
own for the bargain price of a buck. A
great artist, the best writer in comics
at the moment (for my money) on
a story I’ve already read and can tell
you for sure is great? For a dollar?
What more do you need? A Frank
Miller cover? OK then. You can have
that too.
Comics #821 (DC) - If you were to
ask me my ideal writers on Batman,
I don’t think I could do much better
than suggesting Grant Morrison on
one book and Paul Dini on the other.
I might have said Frank Miller, but
now that we’ve seen All-Star Batman
and Robin, we all know I would have
been wrong. Morrison is the guy who
can take seemingly any character and
give it a fresh, likable spin, whether
it’s Superman, the X-Men or less well-known players like the
Guardian and Zatanna. Paul Dini is the guy who, alongside
Bruce Timm and others, created what was probably the best
Batman of the last 20 years with the animated series. If you’ve
ever been a Batman fan, now is probably a good time to be
reading the books.
Wasteland #1 (Oni Press) - This will be only the third
ongoing series that Oni has launched in its existence, which
speaks well of their confidence in it. It’s by the team of Queen &
Country: Declassified Volume 3, a story which for me surpassed
creator Rucka’s Declassified Volume 2, and it’s got an interesting
if non-specific apocalypse called “The Big Wet” which has left
the world a bit of a desert. If you’re not sure about this book,
the creators have also gone out of their way to provide handy
preordering information. Such as a 21-page preview available
in PDF, CBR and JPG format, sketches from artist Christopher
Mitten, character bios by writer Antony Johnston... they’ve even
got a theme song! Check it all out at http://www.onipress.com/
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
Scared to download music from Kazaa or other services that
could get you sued by big business? No worries here. These are
100% free mp3s from artists who know how to promote their
music--by letting people hear some of it for free. So check these
out and buy the album or see their show if you enjoy hearing it.
Beirut ‒ Postcards From Italy
Folky indiepop from Gulag Orkestar (Ba Da Bing!
Raz Mesinai (Badawi) ‒ The Burrow
Experimental dub from Before The Law (Tzadik Records)
Jimi Tenor ‒ Miracles (Alternative version)
Jazzy lounge originally from Beyond the Stars; web
exclusive track
The Fiery Furnaces ‒ Single Again
Psychedelic/electronic/New(er) Wave from EP, Rough
Trade Records
Orbit Service ‒ Sparrow
Heavy headed, muted pop from Songs of Eta Carinae
(Beta-Lactam Ring Records)
Snowglobe ‒ Dry
Bouncy psychopop from Oxytocin (Makeshift Music)
Tom Vek ‒ I Ain t Saying My Goodbyes
Lo‒fi disco‒rock/New(er) Wave from We Have Sound
(Tummy Touch)
Visit TWX for these free songs and others not listed here.
TWX does not profit from the information provided on
the blog or from the mpFree column. ANTIGRAVITY is not
responsible for the content on The Witness Exchange. Please
contact the site author if you are one of these artists and wish
to have any links or files removed and your request will be
honored immediately.
Are you an artist with mp3s available on your
web site or another free music service? If so, send
an e-mail with your URL, along with a description
of your sound (press clipping preferred), to:
[email protected]
24_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
(504) 363-1117
Art School
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
(United Artists)
n films such as the Robert
Crumb documentary, Crumb,
and his adaptation of the
Daniel Clowes comic Ghost
World, director Terry Zwigoff’s
consistently given a voice to
those our society marginalizes.
Unfortunately, Art School Confidential, Zwigoff’s latest film written
by Clowes, wanders off course and doesn’t seem to have the
same clarity of vision demonstrated in his earlier works.
The first half of Art School Confidential is a witty, snarky sendup of the fascinating world of art education. The film follows a
young artist named Jerome (Max Minghella) as he enters the
bewildering and fascinating world of art school.
I studied art at an east coast liberal arts college and Art
School’s take on this world is spot on. The life-drawing classes
with nude models, the semi-pretentious critiques in which
students regurgitate concepts from their text books and the
19 and 20-year-old kids trying hard to convince everyone that
they have somehow glimpsed the world in a way that it has
never been seen before all are ripe for derision and Zwigoff and
Clowes take full advantage.
One of the film’s best characters is a film major named Vince
(Ethan Suplee from TV’s My Name is Earl) who gloriously either
doesn’t care about or doesn’t get the whole art school aesthetic.
Behaving like a mini Hollywood mogul and constantly barking
into his cell phone, he is loud, crass and side-splittingly unsubtle.
In one scene from his student film about a campus murderer, the
clichéd tortured villain/maniac transparently screams, “I am Hell
on Earth personified!”
Sadly, there’s a second act to this film in which the focus
completely shifts from the movie’s strength, making fun of the
art world, to something no one in the audience cares about, a
second rate murder plot. The audience visibly gave up on this
storyline, and we may never know whether it was because of the
hollow central performance by Minghella, or the ill-fated idea of
inserting multiple homicides into a comedy about art school.
––James Jones
Directed by Rian Johnson
ruth in advertising: The
most enticing trailer
of ‘06—a shadowy, smokewisped teaser for rookie
teen-noir thriller Brick—has
yielded the most exciting
motion picture of the year.
Flaunting the film’s two chief draws, a head-spinning invented
vocabulary and a gaggle of scheming, scowling vixens, the
preview smartly miniaturizes Johnson’s tightrope-toeing plot,
which without spoiling too much involves bad drugs, a botched
rub-out and droves of tough-talking, Bogie-approved rogues.
The coup-de-grace here is the genius transposition of the beendone potboiler to a middle-class SoCal high school, a setting
which lends the story a perverse, Dashiell-Hammett-meetsDylan-McKay fresh face. The anti-hero, a game, glib Joseph
Gordon-Levitt (Third Rock From The Sun), finds his estranged
girlfriend (Lost’s Emilie de Ravin) slain in the film’s arresting
first shot, and soon is embroiled in a Big Sleep-like goose chase
where motives are always ulterior and the truth lurks just out
of reach. Engaging as the story and sly visual style are, the real
lure on Brick’s hook is the language, an endlessly clever lexicon
for the ages that’s deserving of its own fine leather binding. In
Johnson’s verbiage, proper nouns and verbs equate to coded,
single-syllable euphemisms, each exchange a rat-a-tat tête-à-tête
(choice quotes: “I gave you Jerry to see him eaten, not to see
you fed” … “The ape blows or I clam” … “Throw one at me,
hash-head—I’ve got all five senses and I slept last night, that
puts me six up on the lot of you”). Such celluloid swagger
hasn’t been seen in a debut screenplay since Christopher
McQuarrie’s The Usual Suspects, a stunning turn followed up by
the eternally stupid The Way Of The Gun. So maybe we shouldn’t
crown Rian Johnson the king of cinema cool-talk just yet. But
damn if you won’t get knives in your eyes thinking of a more
enjoyable trip to the theater.
—Noah Bonaparte
The Da Vinci Code
Directed by Ron Howard
n a moment of divine
clarity, Kurt Vonnegut
once referred to the arcane
symbols found on the back
of U.S. currency, such as the
gleaming eye hovering atop
a pyramid on the one dollar
bill, as “baroque trash.” Ron
Howard’s The Da Vinci Code, a thriller rooted in theology,
conspiracy and “symbology” (a word that doesn’t clear my
spellchecker) is not necessarily baroque, but it is certainly
engaging and delightful trash.
The Da Vinci Code opens with a murder in the Louvre. Visiting
lecturer and Professor of “Symbology,” Robert Langdon (Tom
Hanks), is called to consult at the bizarre crime scene. The
victim is the museum’s curator, who in his dying moments
posed himself as Da Vinci’s classic Vesuvian Man. Codebreaker Sophie Neveu (Amelie’s Audrey Tautou), the curator’s
granddaughter, arrives just in time to inform Langdon he is
being implicated in the murder. She then helps him escape
from the French policeman (The Professional’s Jean Reno) laying
a trap for him at the murder scene.
While being chased by the authorities and a self-flagellating
albino monk named Silas (Paul Bettany), Robert and Sophie
follow clues left by the curator and stumble onto a cover-up
that may date back to the times of Christ. They enlist the help
of religious scholar Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen) to escape to
London to find, you guessed it, the Holy Grail.
The Da Vinci Code resembles another staple of summertime
entertainment, the roller coaster, with its thrilling twists and
turns. You see them coming but they’re fun nonetheless. The
supposed controversy surrounding this film is baffling. The
fact that anyone could get their shorts in a bunch over a silly
pop entertainment like this just shows you how misguided
and bored some people can be.
It’s obvious that Tom Hanks gets it; his performance is his
lightest in years, and at times you forget he’s even there at
all. Bringing the Official Tom Hanks Acting A-Game (on full
display in films like Philadelphia and Saving Private Ryan) to this
popcorn flick would have made everyone look ridiculous,
so he dials it down a bit. In fact, there’s a scene late in the
film in which a character unexpectedly pulls a gun on Hanks’
Langdon, and his reaction suggests that he didn’t even realize
the stakes were that high.
Because of Hanks’ remoteness, this is really Tautou’s show.
She has a history of playing whimsical characters that kind of
teeter on the edge of sanity. Here she is called upon to be
tough, intelligent, and calculating and she pulls it off. She has a
great scene with the captured Silas where she slaps and beats
him as he menaces her in his bonds. She coldly turns his faith
on him, pointing out that according to his beliefs the blood on
his hands has earned him a place in Hell. By the end of the
scene she has startlingly transformed into a 90-pound bully.
For all its mock-seriousness and pretentious subject matter,
The Da Vinci Code is just plain fun. It’s briskly paced, captivating
garbage and that is all it needs to be. To treat this movie as
anything other than that is a waste of time.
To quote Mr. Vonnegut once more, “We are here on earth
to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”
––James Jones
X-Men 3: The Last
Directed by Brett Ratner
(20th Century Fox)
oming off a solid twomovie run, the Xfranchise returns for a third
go-round with a story that
melds classic X-Men tale The
Dark Phoenix Saga with the
idea that a cure has been
found for mutants. The beauty
of the first two films was that director Brian Singer treated
the characters seriously, which kept the campy moments to
a minimum and focused on story. Here, Brett Ratner (Rush
Hour, Layer Cake) seems to want each character to have their
own “special moment” and forgets that, when superheroes are
running around in leather and hitting stuff, story is the only thing
that prevents a laugh-fest. Plot points are rushed along, a major
character dies off-screen (and, despite evidence that points to
obvious foul play, no one questions the character’s disappearance
for quite awhile), major changes to the status quo are switched
back minutes after the big event—one has to wonder how,
coming off a an above-average film like Layer Cake in which the
characterization was great and the pacing spot-on, Ratner could
make a film that more resembles Rush Hour than the source
material that is so rich. Singer’s upcoming Superman Returns
ignores Supes’ movie mythology after its second installment—it
may be best to do the same with X-Men.
––Leo McGovern
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
The Fiery Furnaces
Bitter Tea
(Fat Possum)
SINCE 1969
oes Matt Friedberger
ever sleep? Since 2003,
the insanely prolific songwriter
for this sibling duo has been
pumping out an average of two 70-minute opuses (opusi?) a
year. Bitter Tea, the latest addition to the Fiery Furnaces family,
fuses together the best elements of the band’s past work,
mainly the noodling prog-rock of 2004’s Blueberry Boat and the
straightforward pop of 2005’s EP. Which sounds like the perfect
union, right? Surprisingly, it’s not. Breezy little synth ditties
like “Teach Me Sweetheart” and “Benton Harbor Blues” are
constantly being dragged down into pits of murky sound-squalls
and reverse vocals, wringing out all the bittersweet charm of the
bouncy computerized beats and cartoonish tack pianos. The
more experimental numbers, like “The Vietnamese Telephone
Ministry,” fare even worse. The five-minute droner never
develops beyond its weird musical patchwork of backwards
looping and occasional talking narrative, rendering it less avantgarde and more just plain boring. The fact that these are some
of the catchiest melodies the band has ever written, especially
when tenderly sung by sister Eleanor, makes the album that
much more frustrating. It’s like someone spray-painting a rose
garden to make it more “arty.” Overall, Bitter Tea is not a bad
Fiery Furnaces album – it’s a hell of a
lot more enjoyable than 2005’s Rehearsing
My Choir – it’s just not a great one. But at
least we Fiery Fans can take solace in the
fact that, hey, the guys at the manufacturing
company are probably shrinking wrapping
a new album as we speak.
Friedberger to ask some hardhitting questions about the new
album, but were so hypnotized by his
encyclopedic musical knowledge, we
ended up just lobbing softballs about
Pete Townshend and the Beatles.
have to do with each other, but the 2nd song and the 9th song
don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other.
AG: Are you planning on writing more songs that
are... I don’t know if “poppy” is the right word...
MF: “Poppy” is the right word. We tried to make it poppy.
Eleanor wanted it to be poppy. There are things on Bitter Tea
that are like that. Though not really. Actually they’re not really
like that at all.
AG: I came across an interview you did where you
talked about Pete Townshend, and I was pretty
impressed by your rock history knowledge. You
really know your shit.
MF: It’s funny, I was talking to one of the people we recorded
BitterTea with about Detroit, and he was talking about this certain
type of Detroit guy who is just a rock fanatic. The stereotype is
that they all just have huge record collections and know every
little detail about rock music. They’ve got their specialties, of
course, but they have a good knowledge of it all. And there are
people like that all over, not just in Detroit, and all of them know
a lot more than I do.
AG: So you’re not one of those people?
MF: Well, yes... no, I’m like that. I’m not a collector like that. I
don’t have a comic book collection or a huge record collection.
Where me and my sister grew up, the pop culture was still
‘60s and ‘70s rock, even though it was the late ‘80s. People
still listened to Led Zeppelin. I didn’t, but that was still your
background. So you knew all about it. When you were a kid,
you liked the Bears, or the White Sox, or Michael Jordan, and
then when you turned ten you liked rock music. And you put
the same sort of fanaticism in that as you did in the stuff before.
ANTIGRAVITY: Is there any
concept to Bitter Tea?
Matt Friedberger: Nope. There are
lots of stories on it, but it’s not like
Rehearsing My Choir. It’s a more normal
record. The songs start and stop, and a
song three places from it doesn’t have
anything necessarily to do with the
other songs, you know what I mean?
Though maybe the one song goes
straight into the next song and they
26_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
And that was the stuff you would have to have an opinion about.
“Do you like the Beatles?” “No, they’re wimpy! I like Dio!” OK,
you can say that. Or you can say, “No, I like the Beatles. They’re
good!” So you get into that kind of bullshit. I mean, I like the
Beatles, don’t get me wrong.
AG: Speaking of the Beatles, you all have a song on
that Rubber Soul tribute album. I just have to ask,
why did you pick “Norwegian Wood?”
MF: Well, they asked us to do “Norwegian Wood.” [Laughs] But
it’s a good song. You know, the thing about John Lennon is, he
is a much much better singer and performer than people give
him credit for, and not nearly as good a songwriter as people
give him credit for. Now he was a great songwriter, don’t get
me wrong, but what he was good at was knowing what things
would work for him. He knew how hard he had to write to
produce a very good record – with him singing it and the Beatles
playing it and George Martin producing it. He knew the sounds
and recording techniques he wanted for his songs, and he left
space for them. That’s what makes his songs so good. There’s a
reason why there are no good cover versions of “Strawberry
Fields Forever.” There’s a reason why people cover McCartney
songs a lot more, and it’s not just because they’re the cheezy
ones. That’s true and it’s also not true. McCartney songs have
actual real tunes, in a different way than Lennon’s do. That’s my
little John Lennon spiel. He was the best. Period.
AG: I want to ask you about your live show. On your
last tour, you re-arranged most of the songs from
your albums and played them in one continuous
set, sometimes even taking a melody from one
song and putting in another, or singing the lyrics of
one song over another song. It
was pretty mind-blowing.
MF: We do that for fun. It’s complicated
to do, but also you don’t have to worry
about trying to re-create the record.
Some people think it’s lazy. But it’s not
lazy, it’s just ridiculous. Let them try to
re-write all their songs. It’s not easy. And
for a tour, it works great, because you
can just take out the parts of the songs
that aren’t sounding good enough, and it
doesn’t matter. So you can play just what
you think are the good parts.
AG: I read somewhere that you
all have another album’s worth
of material already written.
MF: Yeah, we do. We were going to
record a record real quick this [past]
summer, but we decided that it wouldn’t
make much sense because we’d still have
to wait until after we’ve released the
other two albums.
––Miles Britton
(Read an uncut version of this interview
on www.antigravitymagazine.com)
Return To The Sea
hen I was a kid, I had
a toy guitar that made
really horrific noises, which
some 1980s engineer probably
imagined rock ‘n’ roll sounded like. And to this day I credit it as
God’s grace that my parents didn’t strangle me with the thick
plastic “strings” of that guitar when I would attempt to serenade
them with my versions of “Louie Louie,” “Good Vibrations” or
“Born in the USA. In many ways, this is exactly what Islands
has done with Return To The Sea. The former members of the
Unicorns have produced a record that sounds like adult music
in the mind of a child and played it out note-perfect on toy
instruments. The difference between me and Nick Diamonds
and J’aime Tambeur is that their inner child has managed to
produce some of the most precious and perfect pop music
of the year. Every moment of Return To The Sea is captivating,
from the nine-minute opener “Swans (Life After Death)” to the
stoned calypso of “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby” to Th’ Corn
Gangg’s leftover “Where There’s A Will There’s A Whalebone,”
which features a pair of rappers from Why? and the thickest
bass line to come out of Montreal, um, ever. The departure of
that cute, curly haired child from the Unicorns apparently left
the remaining ‘Corns with loads of creative running room, and,
as it turns out, they are apparently big fans of Paul Simon circa
“Cecilia.” From top to bottom it’s as if some crazy Canadian
beach party has broken out, with Canucks two-stepping all over
the sand. Diamonds keeps careful watch from his lifeguard
stand, hair oh-so-perfectly shading one side of his face while he
muses mournfully (though with a bit of a grin) about cannibals,
bones, ghosts, etc. That’s part of the brilliance of this record:
Even though the music has matured, Diamonds does not stray
from the youthful subjects of the Unicorns’ Who Will Cut Our
Hair When We’re Gone. While the finished mash-up makes little
to no sense, the bizarre lyrics and melancholy delivery keep
things from sailing into Jimmy Buffett’s waters. Rest assured,
this is not the only review that you will read of Return To The
Sea, and you should be prepared to see more references to
the Unicorns than you can stomach. But where the Unicorns
fell short by alienating people with their Casio keyboards and
too-cute album art, Islands grows up just enough to be the best
scene that Wes Anderson deleted from The Life Aquatic.
-–Marty Garner
The Dividing Island
r, How To Get It Right.
not a band so much as a
Miami/New York anonymous
art collective pretending to be a corporation, and for this some
of the few who have heard of them at all resent them right
off the bat, citing the old case of Style v. Substance. But what
jackasses like that (I’m gunning for you, Pitchfork’s Chris Ott)
don’t realize is that this kind of style—the minimal art work,
everything in black and white, the general pretentiousness—
is its own substance. Besides, everyone knows that taking
yourself really seriously is the new having-a-laugh. But, crucially,
everything LD touches turns to gold. The artwork is gorgeous,
the videos are amazing, the fiction is … interesting, and the
music … mwaah! 2004’s The Incomplete Triangle was in three
four-song parts: First the Mamas and the Papas run through the
Judas Priest catalog, then Bauhaus play the quieter bits of the
Velvet Underground’s oeuvre, then the Chameleons try their
hands at some New Order songs, then it’s over. Vice LOVED
it. And it shouldn’t have worked, really, none of this should, let
alone all on one album, but LD have such a handle on their
sound that they can basically do whatever they want and it will
be theirs. They also write tremendous songs and hooks, end
of story. And so now we have this year’s The Dividing Island,
the self-titled opener of which begins as a Gentlemen Take
Polaroids-era Japan b-side, throws in some shoegaze vocals,
then suddenly explodes into the Beta Band reforming just to
write a tribute to Dungen. Short of a track by track analysis,
I can’t tell you much more than that. “Two Extremes” missed
its chance to be the highlight of a John Hughes film soundtrack
by a couple of decades, while “Dethroning the Optimyth” is
basically sword metal. Yes, it’s all very over the top and, I’ll
say it, pretentious, but it certainly sounds like they’re having a
whole hell of lot more fun than White Rose Movement; it’s just
up to you to decide whether or not it’s at your expense. Listen
to the “woah yeah woah-oh yeahs” in “One for All” and just
try not to laugh. With them. And unlike that aforementioned
band, Lansing-Dreiden know that when making a great ‘80s
influenced album, 4/4 beats, one-fingered keyboard lines, and a
singer who sounds like he’s being anally raped are only half the
battle. Best thing I’ve heard all year. Then again, I am a huge fan
of 80s New Romantic. Japan,Visage, the Associates. All that.
—Darren O’Brien
Ray Davies
Other People s Lives
he importance of Ray
Davies can’t be understated
in terms of his influence on
all of Britpop—his jaunty
songwriting has informed not
just individual bands and performers, but entire genres. As the
lead singer and guitarist of the Kinks, Davies helped churn out
some of the most familiar and timeless melodies during the
original British Invasion and beyond:“You Really Got Me,” “Sunny
Afternoon,” “Village Green,” “Picture Book,” “Lola,” “Waterloo
Sunset,” “Apeman,” “Super Sonic Rocket Ship,” “Better Things”
… the list goes on and on. Following the disintegration of the
Kinks in 1996, Ray Davies began writing and recording music
for an eventual first ever solo-album. For the next 10 years,
Davies was beset with bouts of inactivity and times of personal
turmoil which culminated in a New Orleans mugging in 2004
that left him with a gunshot wound in the leg. However, Davies
persevered and has at last released the album that was a
decade in the making. Other People’s Lives is a leap from the
familiar electronic crunch of the Kinks, showing that Davies’
interests also lie in varying styles outside the familiar Britpop
lexicon. The sound is one of a matured singer/songwriter who
delves into heartfelt crooning, hip-hoppish lyricism and fits of
bossa nova: “Things Are Gonna Change” employs a big band
feel with grand choruses; “Stand Up Comic” starts with stiff
back beats and then sporadically adds unexpected saxophone
and “Run Away From Time” is Davies’ best British imitation of
American soul/rock. However, the best songs on the album
are the ones that mix the new Davies with a bit of the old.
“The Tourist,” a song that was written during Davies’ stay in
New Orleans, has that quirky consistency that made the Kinks
so wonderful. Plus, the tune strikes close to home as Davies
laments the New Orleans tourist culture, spewing, “I’m just
another tourist checking out the slums/With my plastic Visa
drinking with my chums.” Another such Kinks-esque track is
“Next Door Neighbor,” a song in which Davies explores the
distractions of urban living in a way that is reminiscent of one
particular previous Kinks project, Village Green Preservation
Society. While not all of the songs hit square on their mark,
Davies still retains that unmistakable voice and wit that makes
even the less impressive tunes respectable.At 62, Davies proves
why he’s still considered one of the most gifted songwriters in
modern pop music.
—Patrick Strange
Drive-By Truckers
A Blessing And A Curse
(New West)
n Kennesaw, Georgia, minutes
north of Atlanta, there is a
store owned by a 70-yearold named Wild Man. Among
the many items which Wild Man proudly sells is a used KKK
uniform, several authentic Nazi armbands and grave markers,
and countless anti-black t-shirts. Thirty minutes away, in urban
Atlanta, is the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center, dedicated to the
deceased civil rights activist. Among the many items which the
gift shop in the King Center sells is the book I Have a Dream,
“non-violence OR non-existence” bracelets, and countless
equal rights t-shirts. Tourists can see both of these places on
the same broiling Atlanta day if they are willing to make the
drive. Most Southerners don’t have to work that hard. Such,
as the Drive-By Truckers have been known to say, is the duality
of the Southern thang. For several years, the Truckers’ stock
and trade has been this exact topic: the relationship between
dark and light in Southern culture. The duality of the Southern
thang. Light and dark, beauty and dirt. A Blessing And A Curse
finds the Truckers no longer painting broad strokes of Southern
culture but individual portraits of death, poverty, drugs and
depression that could be from anywhere in the U.S. but still
sound better when played with a Southern accent. “Feb 14”
brings to mind ‘80s punk along the lines of the Replacements
moreso than anything by the Allman Brothers. The twangy
Southernisms of Decoration Day and the perfect Dirty South are
still present, of course, but the focus is no longer on geography
but sociology. Each song is a vignette of some poor wretch
from Dixie, whether it be the father in “Little Bonnie” who
thinks that his daughter’s death is divine retribution or the
widowed husband in “Space City” who’s too proud to cry in
public. A Blessing And A Curse falls into the fine tradition of Neil
Young’s Tonight’s The Night: beautiful albums too dark to see
through. After all of this darkness, though, Patterson Hood
closes the record by reminding us that “to love is to feel pain”
before he moans, half-convinced, “It’s great to be alive.” The
South has risen again, and this time they’re fighting with soul.
––Marty Garner
It s Never Been Like That
rainless blockbusters and
pristine pop records may
seem a small consolation
for spiking temperatures
and stifling humidity, but from insufferable summers you
take whatever entertainment you can get. That said, Tom
Cruise’s sanity and shaky foreign relations notwithstanding,
space out once again to Mission: Impossible III and, when
you’re finished, bliss out to France’s aphrodisiac house
band Phoenix. The surprising former signaled the arrival of
the annual summer movie season; were there a similarly
recognized period for pop music, this fantastic third offering
from the latter would have done just the same. Phoenix
has always had an inimitable talent for making memorable
retro-mod dance tunes—check the unfuckwithable single
“If I Ever Feel Better” from the band’s debut United—but
they’ve always been buried beneath overly slick electro
production and a preening, distinctly Parisian aesthetic. Not
here: Saying fuck-all to narcissism and bad luck, It’s Never
Been Like That breaks all the mirrors, cranks down the hard
top and steps firm on the gas. Guitars are the order of the
day, replacing the group’s favored digital synths, and “grininducing” only begins to express the amphetamine pop that
follows. Irrepressibly catchy singles “Long Distance Calls”
and “Consolation Prizes” are among the year’s top tracks,
their exuberant skips and stops recalling the new Belle &
Sebastian joining up with the old Strokes, yet they may not
be the best songs on their side of the album. Vying for that
honor are the beach-trip sing-along “Rally” and the nostalgic
roller-rink jangle of “One Time Too Many,” the latter’s sweet
shuffle sure to get lodged in your gray matter for days. Side
B is almost as engaging—excepting the limp, Scissor-Sistersminus-the-gay disco/rock of “Courtesy Laughs,” glaring only
because everything else here is so over-the-top inspired.
Listen to the record on repeat long enough and even that
misstep starts to sound planned, like a requisite breather
between the all-too-regular brilliance that surrounds it.
Longtime Phoenix fans are going to freak out over this
record, and those who’ve never experienced the band’s
infectious music have no better place to begin. After all, it’s
never been like this.
—Noah Bonaparte
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
White Rose
Gnarls Barkley
St. Elsewhere
Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam
resh off his collaboration
with MF Doom, DJ
Danger Mouse has teamed
up with Goodie Mob’s CeeLo to form Gnarls Barkley, a duo vastly different from – and
arguably more eccentric than – DangerDoom. Aside from
sharing one member, in fact, these two groups are almost
nothing alike. Where the former melded hip hop and Adult
Swim, this album brings in some Al Green era soul feel and
mixes it with some sharp, funky beats. The addition of CeeLo’s vocals (sometimes he sings, sometimes he raps and
sometimes both) brings to mind old school OutKast and
André 3000’s solo work.
Heavy on vocals and filled with instrumental flourishes
that require close listening (headphones are optimal), St.
Elswhere defies easy categorization as it bends expectations
and melds genres. Case in point: “The Boogie Monster,” a
song that is, unsurprisingly, about a boogie monster. As the
narrator says, “I used to wonder why he looked familiar/
Then I realized it was a mirror/And now it is plain to see/
The whole time the monster was me.” The silly lyrics
are belied by a slow soulful groove, and this mix seems
to define what Gnarls Barkley is trying to aim for: a little
frivolity in the vocals mixed with some seriously ornate
Further evidence of their idiosyncratic tastes (as
if any was needed) is a cover of the Violent Femme’s
“Gone Daddy Gone,” which comes in out of left field
but somehow manages to sound just right. St. Elsewhere
includes a bit of everything, and because of this it can’t be
easily encapsulated—it’s a little funk, a lot of soul and some
hip-hop thrown in.
—Jared Kraminitz
’m going to lay whatever
credibility I may have on the
line here and admit that I am a
huge fan of ‘80s New Romantic. Japan, Visage, the Associates.
All that. So, theoretically, I should be in seventeenth Heaven,
what with the ‘80s resurgence that seemingly has no end,
which is just fine by me. Unfortunately, no one seems to be
getting it quite right and making anything that can stand proudly
among its ancestors, or that will even be remembered for the
naughties rehash in the 20/20s. There’s Interpol, but after
that? Franz Ferdinand are now officially annoying; you cannot
look me in the eyes and tell me you can listen to the Bloc
Party album all the way through; and the Bravery/Killers have
a couple good tunes between them, but anyone who writes,
records, and still plays live a song with the chorus, “It’s indie
rock ‘n’ roll for me” … well, I really worry about their quality
control. So now White Rose Movement, a London quintet with
haircuts you could open your mail with, a hot-chick synthesist,
and—clutch—super-duper-producer Paul Epworth (Bloc Party,
the Futureheads, Maximo Park, every band in this category).
If you were paying attention last summer, you’ll know “Love
Is a Number,” the still-terrific bit of synth/glam/disco that
could only be the highlight of debut album Kick. The fact is,
every song here taken by itself would blow some minds, but
when collected and sequenced one after the other, we notice
a distinct lack of depth, and man it gets old. These songs might
as well not have names, they’re so indistinguishable, even after
the umpteen listens I’ve given it. It’s quite a shame that an
album full of good, sleazy, moody, synth-rock songs should be
so impenetrable, but if you happen to have a love for Depeche
Mode, Gary Numan, and Nine Inch Nails, and—clutch—own
an iPod, this is something you’ll want.
—Darren O’Brien
28_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
must be honest. I remained
a devoted fan of Pearl Jam
long after Ten went the way
of the Meatpuppets and semiaccountable governments. Vs., Vitalogy, No Code, Yield, even
Binaural got play in my high school days and later on in all the ratinfested dorm rooms, soiled apartments and Sony Walkmans of
my post-adolescence. Granted, there was a steady decline in the
novelty of the Pearl Jam catalogue as it grew (although Vitalogy is
aging surprisingly well), but I guess my depressive personality and
introverted nature won out.Vedder was, and still is, just so filled
with anger and self-deprecation—something to which a boy like
me could relate.With their new album, Pearl Jam seems to have
recaptured some of what made them so iconic a decade ago. I’ve
heard people say that the new album is reminiscent of Ten and
such a comparison is misleading.This is not Ten, nor is it as good.
To expect any band to duplicate the timely urgency of “Alive,”
the vernal audacity of “Evenflow” or the confessional power of
“Black” and “Release” is an impossible request. What the latest
record does accomplish is a return to material consistency and
straight forward (post?) grunge rock ‘n’ roll. Crashing drums,
vintage McCready guitar riffs and patented Vedder wailings are
aplenty on this one. And as long as we are on the subject of
Vedder’s vocal chords, it must be said that the latest project
resituates his voice as the compositional center piece. It’s not a
bad thing either. As always, some songs work better than others
in utilizing his signature voice: “Parachutes” is a slow acoustic
strum that allows Vedder to do his deep, dark massaging, and
“Come Back” is a Pearl Jam-does-blues tune that reveals just
how wonderfully plaintive Vedder can be. All in all, the album
shows a matured Pearl Jam that has left much of the self-hatred
and metaphysical philosophizing behind. What’s left is a solid
record that keeps to the basics of unadorned rock. Alas, I guess
the teenage angst in me has finally died. And good riddance.
—Patrick Strange
The Big Top
1638 Clio St., (504) 569-2700
Cafe Brasil
2100 Chartres St., (504) 947-9386
Carrollton Station
8140 Willow St., (504) 865-9190
Checkpoint Charlie’s
501 Esplanade Ave., (504) 947-0979
Circle Bar
1032 St. Charles Ave., (504) 588-2616
618 Frenchmen St., (504) 942-373
Goldmine Saloon
701 Dauphine St., New Orleans, (504) 586-0745
Handsome Willy’s
218 South Robertson St., (504) 525-0377
The High Ground
3612 Hessmer Ave., Metairie, (504) 525-0377
House Of Blues / The Parish
225 Decatur, (504)310-4999
The Howlin’ Wolf
907 S. Peters, (504) 522-WOLF
Le Bon Temps Roule
4801 Magazine St., (504) 895-8117
Maple Leaf
8316 Oak St., (504) 866-9359
Marlene’s Place
3715 Tchoupitoulas, (504) 897-3415
McKeown’s Books & Difficult Music
4737 Tchoupitoulas, (504) 895-1954
One Eyed Jacks
615 Toulouse St., (504) 569-8361
The Republic
828 S. Peters St., (504) 528-8282
Sip Wine Market
3119 Magazine St., (504) 894-7071
4529 Tchoupitoulas, (504) 895-1456
(Uptown) 501 Napoleon Ave., (504) 895-8477
(Downtown) 233 N. Peters
Chelsea’s Cafe
2857 Perkins Rd., (225) 387-3679
The Darkroom
10450 Florida Blvd., (225) 274-1111
North Gate Tavern
136 W. Chimes St.
Red Star Bar
222 Laurel St., (225) 346-8454
Rotolos (All-Ages)
808 Pettit Blvd.
150 Mayflower St., (225) 387-0321
The Spanish Moon
1109 Highland Rd., (225) 383-MOON
The Varsity
3353 Highland Rd., (225)383-7018
Walter Wolfman Washington, d.b.a., 10pm
Sunday, 6/11
Thursday, 6/1 I Tell You What, Shiloh
Hello Asphalt, Stephanie & the Whitesocks,
Radionation, Sustenance, Howlin’Wolf, 9pm, $7
Tin Men, d.b.a., 10pm
17 Poets! A Weekly Series, Goldmine Saloon
DJ T-Roy, Shiloh
Largely Ironic Karaoki, Red Star
Thursday, 6/8
CEX, the Love of Everything, the Republic, 8pm,
Friday, 6/2 Lifehouse, Rocco Deluca, the Burden, House of
Blues, 7pm, $22.50
38 Special, House of Blues
Otis Gibbs, d.b.a., 6pm
Matt Lionett, the Whigs, Will Hoge, Howlin’
Stanton Moore/Robert Walter Duo, d.b.a.,
Wolf, 9pm, $10
10pm, $5
The Gourds, Chelsea’s Cafe
17 Poets! A Weekly Series, Goldmine Saloon
The Benjy Davis Project, Varsity Theatre
DJ T-Roy, Shiloh
Starlight Mints, Dios Malos, Project Octopus,
Friday, 6/9
One Eyed Jacks
Wheatus, Meriwether, the High Ground,
6:30pm, $8
One Reason, Hello Asphalt, the Red Beards, the
Hot Club of New Orleans, d.b.a., 6pm
Big Top, 7pm, $5
Liquidrone, d.b.a., 10pm, $5
Edwin McCain Band, Garrison Starr, Varsity
DJ Real, Shiloh
The Curbs, Cat Jump!, Red Star
Steel Pulse, House of Blues, 7pm, $28.50
Hot Club of New Orleans, d.b.a., 6pm
Saturday, 6/3 Juice, d.b.a., 10pm, $5
DJ Real, Shiloh
Happy Talk Band, Chappy, Marcel Flisiuk art
The Cassettes, Red Star
opening, the Big Top, 6pm, FREE
Pits vs. Preps CD Release, Parabellum,
Saturday, 6/10
Manwitch, Howlin’Wolf, 9pm, $5
Susan Cowsill, Carrollton Station
The Junior League CD Release, Circle Bar, 10pm,
The Country Teasers, Groch Fock, MC
Tracheotemy, One Eyed Jacks
Birdfinger, the American Tragedy, Losing Ana,
Teena Marie, House of Blues, 7pm, $42.50
Barisal Guns, the Howlin’Wolf, 9pm, $7
John Boutte, d.b.a., 7pm
Edwin McCain Band, Garrison Starr, House of
DJ Matic, Shiloh
Blues, 8pm, $20
Indie Rock Dance Party, Red Star
New Orleans Filmmakers Presents: Aperture,
featuring work by Kevin Barrace, Todd Voltz,
Sunday, 6/4 Charlie Brown, Jason Vowell, Christopher
Brown and music videos from Morning 40
Yakuza, Dysrhythmia, Behold the Arctopus,
Federation, Dannell Booker, The Jesus and
One Eyed Jacks
Charlie Show, Zeitgeist, 8pm
Teena Marie, House of Blues, 7pm, $42.50
Foxy Shazam, StatuesCryBleeding, Arcane
Thumbscrew, Abacabb, the High Ground,
Theory, Bleed Vader, the High Ground, 6:30pm,
6:30pm, $6
Linnzi Zaorski, d.b.a., 9pm
John Boutte, d.b.a., 7pm
Sophisticats & Sophistikittens, d.b.a., 11pm, $6
Monday, 6/5 DJ Matic, Shiloh
Indie Rock Dance Party featuring The Honored
Tiny Hawks, Handsome Willy’s, 6pm, $5
Guests, Red Star
Louisiana Ska & Punk Presents: Authority
Sunday, 6/11
Zero, OPM, 6-Pack Deep, Rotolo’s, 5:30pm,
Jeff & Vida, d.b.a., 10pm
Gal Holiday & Her Honky Tonk Revue, d.b.a.,
Tuesday, 6/6 Quien Es Boom, We the Living, Project Color
3, Shiloh
Black Sabbath Tribute Night featuring Potpie
and appearances by Elecrical Spectacle’s
Monday, 6/12
Mike Mayfield and Anton Gussoni, Klezmer
All-Stars, Chef Menteur, Shatner, the Big Top,
Secret Agent Bill, Dirty Dingus, the High Ground,
8pm, $8
6:30pm, $6
Die Rotzz, Pallbearers, Circle Bar, $5
Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, d.b.a., 10pm
VH1 Soul Presents: Anthony Hamilton, House
Quien es, BOOM, Red Star
of Blues, 7pm, $35
Tuesday, 6/13
OTEP, the Parish @ House of Blues, 8pm, $13
Johnny Vidacovich Duo, d.b.a., 10pm
Sip ‘N Spin, Sip Wine Market
The Know How, the Big Top
Cabo Wabo Presents: Sammy Hagar, the Wabos,
Wednesday, 6/7 House of Blues, 7pm, $37.50
The Absence, the High Ground, 6:30pm, $6
Soul Rebels Brass Band, Howlin’Wolf, 9pm, $7
Johnny Vidacovich Duo, d.b.a., 10pm
Greg Dull’s Twilight Singers w/ Mark Lanegan,
Sip ‘N Spin, Sip Wine Market
One Eyed Jacks
Billy Lusso & the Restless Natives, Shiloh
Dash Rip Rock, Carrollton Station
Jeff Klein, One Eyed Jacks
Wednesday, 6/14
VH1 Soul Presents: Anthony Hamilton, House
of Blues, 7pm, $35
Wade Bowen, Varsity Theatre
Steven Seagal, Thunderbox, JJ Bilmour,
House of Blues, 7pm, $20-$23
is whole career, Steven Seagal has been
defined by dizzying directives: He’s Above
The Law, but Under Siege; both Into The Sun
and Out For Justice. Exhausted of prepositional
phrases, the ponytailed pariah took to adjoining
his existing titles (hence, 2003’s Out For Justice/
Hard To Kill hybrid Out For A Kill). Once that got
old, Lt. Casey Ryback did what any black-belted
asskicker approaching 50 would do: He took
up fusion music. In 2004, Seagal released his
debut, Songs From The Crystal Cave, a story of
one man’s quest to punish the men who killed
his fam ... no, that was Hard To Kill, wasn’t it?
Damn—seems we’ve never listened to Songs
From The Crystal Cave. But it’s by Steven Seagal
and it’s called Songs From The Crystal Cave, so
we’re going out on a limb and saying it’s both
Above Criticism and Beyond Reproach. Happy?
-–Noah Bonaparte
(Continued) Wednesday, 6/14
Don’t Die Cindy, Adeline, Infinite Hours, the
High Ground, 6:30pm, $6
Walter Wolfman Washington, d.b.a., 10pm
El Kaboom, Shiloh
Largely Ironic Karaoke, Red Star
Thursday, 6/15
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, House of Blues, 7pm,
Zoso, the Republic, 8pm, $10-$12
Brian Lee, d.b.a., 10pm
17 Poets! A Weekly Series, Goldmine Saloon
DJ T-Roy, Shiloh
Crawling, Kings, Red Star
Friday, 6/16
Damiera, Judge Genius, Howlin’Wolf, 9pm, $7
The Original Superstars of Jazz Fusion w/
Bobbi Humphrey, Jean Carne, Jon Lucien,
Ronnie Laws, Roy Ayers, House of Blues,
6:30pm, $30
Fatter Than Albert, Razabari Sumthing, A
Billion Earnies, the High Ground, 6:30pm, $6
Hot Club of New Orleans, d.b.a., 6pm
The Fessters, d.b.a., 10pm, $6
Groovesect, DJ Real, Shiloh
Terror of the Sea, the Brass Bed, Red Star
Saturday, 6/17
The Coup, the Parish @ House of Blues, 9pm,
Blockhead, Shiloh
John Boutte, d.b.a., 7pm
Brian Seeger & The Gentilly Groove
Masters, d.b.a., 11pm, $5
antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative_
Outbreak, the High Ground, 6:30pm, $10
(Continued) Saturday, 6/17 Walter Wolfman Washington, d.b.a., 10pm
Homegrown Designs Presents: Blockhead,
DJ Signify, DJ Wizdum, Shiloh
The Public, the Tomatoes, the City Life,
One Eyed Jacks
Indie Rock Dance Party featuring the
Southern Backtones, Red Star
John Hiatt, North Mississippi All Stars,
House of Blues, 7pm, $32.50
Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers, the Parish @
House of Blues, 7pm, $10
Linnzi Zaorski, d.b.a., 9pm
Jimmy Horn, d.b.a., 9pm
Abner, Project Color 3, Smiley With a Knife,
Thursday, 6/22 Shiloh
MONDAY, 6/26
Monday, 6/26
Lamb of God, Children of Bodom, Thine Eyes
Bleed, House of Blues, 7pm, $22-$25
Friday, 6/23 Jeff Albert Quartet, d.b.a., 10pm
Slideshow by Keith Knight, Handsome Willy’s,
7pm (see feature, page 19)
Todd Barry, One Eyed Jacks
Monday, 6/19 Band of Horses, Mt. Egypt, the Can’t See, the
Parish @ House of Blues, 9pm, $12
D.R.I., Subzero, Darkroom
Drop Dead Gorgeous, Inked in Blood,
Stand Up NOLA Presents: Todd Barry, One
Scars of Tomorrow, Calico System,
Eyed Jacks
Deadboy & the Elephantmen, Chelsea’s Cafe
Andy J Forest, d.b.a., 10pm
Hot Club of New Orleans, d.b.a., 6pm
Tuesday, 6/20 Rotary Downs, d.b.a., 10pm, $5
The Fish Don’t Carry Guns Tour w/ Icon the
Mic King, Dos Noun, Educated Consumers,
Roger Clyne, the Peacemakers, the Parish
Fishr Pryce, Shiloh
@ House of Blues, 8pm, $10
Man Alive, the Wedding, Minutes Too Far,
Palo Viejo, Maneja Beto, Red Star
the High Ground, 6:30pm, $8
Saturday, 6/24
Johnny Vidacovich Duo, d.b.a., 10pm
Sip ‘N Spin, Sip Wine Market
Sublime Lens, Shiloh
Anniversary show featuring: Deadboy & the
Rent Night, Red Star
Elephantmen, Ballzack, One Eyed Jacks, 10pm,
Wednesday, 6/21 $10
Rasputina, House of Blues, 9pm, $15
John Boutte, d.b.a., 7pm
Soul Rebels Brass Band, Howlin’Wolf, 9pm,
DJ Matic, Shiloh
Indie Rock Dance Party featuring Scarlet
Dash Rip Rock, Carrollton Station
Speedster, Red Star
Bane, Modern Life is War, This is Hell,
Sunday, 6/25 Largely Ironic Karaoke, Red Star
Groovesect, Shiloh
Largely Ironic Karaoke, Red Star
17 Poets! A Weekly Series, Goldmine Saloon
DJ T-Roy, Shiloh
Sunday, 6/18 The Comfies, Red Star
Groovesect, Shiloh
30_antigravity: your new orleans music and culture alternative
Tuesday, 6/27
Legendary Pink Dots, the Parish @ House of
Blues, 8pm, $10-$12
Soilent Green, the Acacia Strain, Demiricious,
the High Ground, 6:30pm, $10
Johnny Vidacovich Duo, d.b.a., 10pm
Sip ‘N Spin, Sip Wine Market
Thursday, 6/29
Merry Go Drown, Howlin’Wolf, 9pm, $7
Joe Krown Organ Combo, d.b.a., 10pm
DJ T-Roy, Shiloh
The Moonlight Towers, Red Star
Friday, 6/30
The Modern Day Saint, the Silent Game, the
High Ground, 6:30pm, $6
Hot Club of New Orleans, d.b.a., 6pm
Egg Yolk Jubilee, d.b.a., 10pm, $6
DJ Real, Shiloh
Saturday, 7/1
Morning 40 Federation CD Release, One
Eyed Jacks
Wednesday, 6/28
David Dondero, Tilly and the Wall, Spanish
Walter Wolfman Washington, d.b.a., 10pm
91.5 FM
Music is the doctor.
Welcome home!
Red Hot Chili Peppers and Duran Duran join the ritual.
Full line-up will be announced in the coming weeks
October 28-29 New Orleans
On Sale Now at voodoomusicfest.com

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