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Raphael Helfand

Reporter, Editor, Critic

Location icon United States

I'm a freelance writer, reporter, audio producer and photographer, and the Editor-in-Chief of a multimedia online publication called Laid Off NYC. I live in Brooklyn and just completed an internship at WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show. Before that, I was working toward a Master's degree in Cultural Reporting and Criticism, which I received from New York University's Carter School of Journalism in December 2020.

I lived in New Orleans for six years before I moved north, reporting on music and cultural economy. Digging into what made that city's $8 billion-a-year tourism industry tick (pre-pandemic) is what made me want to broaden the scope of my work to include deep reporting.

Journalism school taught me how to report a story thoroughly and conscienciously, and helped me sharpen my writing and critical thinking skills. The Brian Lehrer show taught me what makes great radio, how to work efficiently as part of a news team, and how to write in someone else's voice—in this case, one of the most beloved voices in all of New York City.

Below are all my published clips to date, including features, reviews, interviews, essays, and segments I helped produce while working at The Brian Lehrer Show.


Selected Features

The Iron Lattice
Catering to the Crowd

I explored The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival's byzantine economy, one interview at a time.

The Brian Lehrer Show

Pitchfork Album Reviews

Pearl & the Oysters: Flowerland

The third album from the duo of Juliette Pearl Davis and Joachim Polack takes on the soft psychedelic hues of Stereolab and Wendy Carlos, shot through with malaise and a curious sense of overstimulation.

bbymutha: Cherrytape EP

The Tennessee rapper’s latest four-song EP is a concentrated burst of energy with perfectly paced flows and a vibe that's always ready for the dancefloor.

Connan Mockasin / Ade: It's Just Wind

New Zealand psych rocker Connan Mockasin’s collaborative album with his dad, Ade, has bad jokes, stream-of-consciousness poetry, and an odd, undeniable appeal.

Q&A Interviews

Selected 'Essays'

Bill & Bonnie's Wild Kindness

In which I marvel at Bill Callahan and Bonnie "Prince" Billy's remarkable collaborative run and extol its final insallment, a cover of Silver Jews' "The Wild Kindness"

Six Degrees to MF DOOM

In which I selfishly re-direct the narrative from MF DOOM's tragic death to my experience growing up with his music as a suburban white kid.


Bandcamp Daily
Anika, "Change"

ALBUM OF THE DAY ​ ​ The age of "I actually wrote this album pre-Covid, but it feels prescient now; I guess I was channeling something..." is finally coming to a merciful close.

Our Favorite Songs of July 2021

At the flip of every calendar page, our Music contributors take the time to write about their favorite tracks released during the last month. We are happy to see contributors, new and old, weigh in on genres as disparate as khroniky captured in the Carpathian mountains and sound art produced

Our Favorite Songs of June 2021

As much as we try to impose impose order on our monthly music roundups here at Laid Off NYC, the law of entropy eventually takes over and the blurbs take on a life of their own. This lunar cycle, we've got a whopping 19 of 'em, which led to more

Our Favorite Songs of May 2021

Every month, our Music contributors write about the songs that stuck with them during the most recent lunar cycle. A while ago, we switched these posts from the first Monday of each month to the first Friday in order to align them with "Bandcamp Day." The holiday is on hiatus,

Our Favorite Songs of April 2021

Every month, our Music contributors write about the songs that stuck with them during the most recent lunar cycle. From now on, we'll post these on the first Friday of every month, when Bandcamp forfeits its revenue share to artists and labels. Of course, these lists are by no means

Our Favorite Songs of March 2021

Every month, our Music contributors write about the songs that stuck with them during the most recent lunar cycle. From now on, we'll post these on the first Friday of every month, when Bandcamp forfeits its revenue share to artists and labels. Of course, these lists are by no means

Our Favorite Songs of February 2021

Every month, our Music contributors write about the songs that stuck with them during the most recent lunar cycle. This time, we're doing it a little differently, starting out with a few tracks from Cashforuhuru, a massive compilation of new music from New Orleans' most exciting underground artists, organized

Our Favorite Songs of January 2021

Our monthly track round-ups are back! For our first list of the year, seven of our writers took on 17 tunes from January, recorded by artists ranging in age, genre and global position. The list is far from comprehensive, but we hope it will give you something to listen to

Reflections, Part II: A Farewell

In our first official act as the new ruling party of Laid Off NYC, we asked writers to choose cultural objects-pieces of art, memes, fashion trends-and use them to reflect on their years. In Part II of these reflections, we discuss the things that helped us see the

Laid Off's Top Songs of July

Last month's intro was way too long, so I'll keep this one short and sweet: These are our favorite songs of the month. Also, today is Bandcamp Friday, which means Bandcamp is foregoing their revenue share and giving all profits directly to artists. If you like any of

Laid Off's Top Songs of May & June

The "best of" list has been a staple of arts criticism since long before music blogs existed. The desire to curate is why most music writers got into the "business" in the first place. The urge to rank and score-and to read rankings and scores in lieu of the

Reflections, Part I: A Bad Year

In our first official act as the new ruling party of Laid Off NYC, we asked writers to choose cultural objects-pieces of art, memes, fashion trends-and use them to reflect on their years. 2020 was tough on all of us, but these small pleasures, some guilty, some high-brow,

OffBeat Magazine
Leap of Faith: Quiana Lynell's phenomenal ride

"The last year of my life has been phenomenal," Quiana Lynell says. It stands to reason. In the past 12 months, she's scratched more items off her musical bucket list than most of us have ever written down. And unlike most of us, she actually write them down.

Juneteenth Bandcamp Day

Written by Raphael Helfand June 19, 2020, marks the 155th anniversary of the day the enslaved people of Texas (the most remote Confederate state) were finally made aware of their freedom. Though Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier, and many Black Americans in the south remained

Bonnie "Prince" Billy Translates in Real Time

Will Oldham grew up in Louisville, KY by a bend in the Ohio River, and recorded his debut album, There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You, in a shotgun house. Still, when I try to force a connection between his humble beginnings and his upcoming weekend double-header at The Music Box-a musical shantytown just off the winding Mississippi-he's reticent.

OffBeat Magazine
A Dream and Hard Work: Saint-Germain gets back to the basics

A n unassuming double shotgun sits on a busy stretch of Saint Claude Avenue, between Montegut and Clouet, alongside Red's Chinese and Quintron and Miss Pussycat's Spellcaster Lodge. Its last occupant was the Sugar Park Tavern pizza parlor. Before that, it housed Leo's Bar & Grill, where DJ Soul Sister hosted her first Hustle parties.

Kero Kero Bonito Searches for Sense in a Messy World

Kero Kero Bonito has undergone a sea change. Their sound, once radically cheerful, matured into angsty uncertainty with the release of Time 'n' Place in early October. The British pop project started as a simple synth trio, with Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled manning the boards, and Sarah Midori Perry singing and rapping, alternating enthusiastically between English and her native Japanese.

OffBeat Magazine
Pink Room Project at BUKU: Pushing the boundary

"We sound like and look like what New Orleans sound like and look like. Or what it should sound like and look like," Pink Room Project's Brandon Ares said. The rapper/producer/visual artist has a signature look, and it's not the one promoted by the Tourism Board.

VIDEO PREMIER: Delish Da Goddess Waves Goodbye

Updated] "Bye America," the newest music video from Delish Da Goddess, premiering below, is two songs and concepts rolled into one. Delish directed the video herself, along with Juicebox Burton of Studio LaLaLa. Gigi Glenn of NOVAC handled production.

Mdou Moctar Takes Desert Blues Electric at Jazz Fest

In the land of the underdog story, Mdou Moctar is king. Born in the Tuareg commune village of Tchintabaraden, Niger, Moctar was raised in a strict Muslim household in which music was forbidden. He built his first guitar, a lefty five-string, from wood and bicycle brake cables and practiced it in secret, with no formal instruction.

OffBeat Magazine
Femaissance's Activist Art: granny panties & glitter silicone chicken legs

"C ommunity can exist in a capitalist structure when there's small business," says Maddy Rose, co-founder and curator of Femaissance, the all-female art movement. "So frequently, 'capitalism' suggests absolute selfishness, the desire to climb to the top and knock people down as you go. But small female businesses made $1.7 trillion in 2017.

OffBeat Magazine
From Underdog to Lone Wolf at Large: Alfred Banks at the forefront

E veryone loves an underdog. In hip-hop, especially, dark horse status is synonymous with credibility. It's no surprise, then, that local rapper Alfred Banks has made it his personal brand. "Underdog Central is a place where the overlooked go to hone their skills to come back [as] the admired," Banks told , laying out his movement's mission statement.

OffBeat Magazine
The Residents Bring Mystery To Music Box Village (Concert Review)

It's been 44 years since Shreveport-founded experimental collective The Residents released its debut album but somehow, in all that time, the group never made it to New Orleans. That changed Monday night, when the mysterious act arrived at The Music Box Village .

OffBeat Magazine
My Music with Cyrus Nabipoor of NORUZ and Sexual Thunder

"I grew up in Portland. Piano was my first instrument, although I'm not very good at it. I didn't practice much, kind of hated it. When I got into sixth grade, I was like, 'Mom, let me switch instruments. I'll keep playing music. Just let me pick something else.'

OffBeat Magazine
Thou Rocks the Civic to Sleep (Concert Review & Photos)

It isn't easy for a band to sound convincingly evil nowadays, but Baton Rouge's Thou is making a strong case for itself. Frontman Bryan Funck leads the band's nosedive into the abyss, defining the group's sound with his otherworldly voice, a guttural rattling somewhere between a hiss and a yawn.

OffBeat Magazine
AF THE NAYSAYER "PARTS, Act I" (Album Review)

Amahl Abdul-Khaliq (AF THE NAYSAYER) is like water. His sound is slippery and, like the abstruse function that inspired the first part of his moniker, hard to pin down. It's also necessary. The California-born producer first brought his music to Louisiana's baron electronic landscape during his time at McNeese University in Lake Charles, when he started making beats on FL Studio.

OffBeat Magazine
More than a Music Club: Howlin' Wolf turns 30

Howie Kaplan had zero experience running a major music venue when he bought the Howlin' Wolf from Jack Groetsch in 2000. Just over 30, Kaplan had spent his entire adult life in the hospitality industry: waiting tables, bartending and booking shows.

OffBeat Magazine
MY MUSIC: jazz pianist Oscar Rossignoli

"My dad grew up playing the bass-just amateur bands, nothing professional, but he has an ear for music. He knows what's wrong, what's right, but he doesn't know why. He understands music in an interesting way. He got me into a conservatory for kids in San Pedro Sula [Honduras].


Trent Reznor used to be a scary guy, at least in public. While he was reportedly a well-adjusted child and teenager in 1970s rural Pennsylvania, his early records paint a picture of a distinctly disturbed individual. In the mid-'90s, when Nine Inch Nails reached peak popularity, he grew into his dark lyrics, turning to severe [...]

OffBeat Magazine
Fest Focus: Keith Burnstein's Kettle Black - OffBeat Magazine

Keith Burnstein is a crafter of tunes. Growing up in a Philadelphia suburb, he started playing piano at age five, and by 14, he was listening to music most young folks aren't exposed to. "Grant Green, The Headhunters, Wes Montgomery, Mahavishnu Orchestra, shit like that," Burnstein recalls.

OffBeat Magazine
Carmela Rappazzo, Howlin' at the Moon (Independent) - OffBeat Magazine

Carmela Rappazzo sings a lot of blue notes. Her voice is not traditionally beautiful or "pretty." It captures you on a different level, disconcerting yet fascinating. Rappazzo grew up in a large, Sicilian, musical family in New York and made a career for herself as an actress, first off-off-Broadway, then in Hollywood.


In the days leading up to Ariel Pink's performance at Tipitina's, I watched some footage of his recent shows. His voice sounded terrible, a square peg jammed unsuccessfully into the round hole of his band's tight instrumentals. Watching him live, this incongruity had the opposite effect.

OffBeat Magazine
Power Players: Delish Da Goddess Opens Doors - OffBeat Magazine

The leader of New Orleans' DIY hip-hop movement lives half an hour outside city limits. Gabriel Major (a.k.a. Delish Da Goddess) resides in the sleepy town of Violet, an unlikely origin for a rap deity. "Being from Violet, everybody is in that bubble, so it's easy to feel comfortable there," Delish says.
Kentucky rock 'n' rollers White Reaper on going big and staying young

White Reaper is growing up - musically, at least. Frontman and guitarist Tony Esposito says the freewheeling lifestyle of a touring band has kept the group spiritually young. Its sound, however, grew considerably between the band's DIY debut, "White Reaper Does It Again" (2015), and its sophomore effort, "The World's Best American Band," released in April.
Heading to Buku 2019? Here are some artists, performances to catch

BUKU Music + Art Project returns to Mardi Gras World Friday and Saturday, March 22-23, with A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt and Playboi Carti topping an eclectic array of electronic and hip-hop artists with a few rock, pop and R&B acts sprinkled into the lineup.
Dominic Minix departs New Orleans with Yung vul 'farewell' show

Summer in New Orleans is slow, but that helped motivate local guitarist and bandleader Dominic Minix. "I was getting very frustrated here, and I decided I had to get out of this cycle of accepting less than I deserve. I had to go out and get it," Minix says.
Missed first Friday of Jazz Fest? Here's a recap of Santana, PJ Morton, Terence Blanchard and more

Santana, The Revivalists and Aloe Blacc attracted crowds on a sunny first Friday at Jazz Fest. Native New Orleanian and Maroon 5 keyboardist PJ Morton played an early set at the Congo Square Stage, getting a rise out of a steadily growing crowd with soulful pop jams. Morton sang and played Rhodes piano, and was supported by a bassist, a drummer, a guitarist and two backup vocalists.
Pharmakon, aka Margaret Chardiet, comes to Santos Bar Sept. 20

Raised in the underbelly of New York's experimental music scene, Margaret Chardiet (Pharmakon) came of age at 19 in 2009 with her self-titled debut EP. Since then, she's become a distinguished voice in harsh noise. She signed with Sacred Bones Records, a tastemaker of all things weird, and has released four excellent full-length albums with the label in the past six years.
Music preview: Boy Harsher and Special Interest at Santos Bar

Fresh off the release of their sophomore LP, "Careful," pre-eminent synth pop duo Boy Harsher (pictured) arrives in New Orleans. Singer Jae Matthews and synth-master Gus Muller met at a party while attending film school in Savannah, Georgia and have been making dark, pulsating, goth dance music together ever since.
Preview: Murdertits! with Primpce at Hi-Ho Lounge

Murdertits! is one of the most exciting musical oddities in New Orleans. Her songs, most easily accessed on SoundCloud, are a strange blend of country, synth-pop kitsch and comedy blended into strange, beautiful artifacts. At her rare one-woman shows, she plays cello and synth keyboard, employs a backing track for percussion and auxiliary instrumentals and warbles uncannily into the microphone.
Preview: Claudio Simonetti's Goblin at Music Box Village Sept. 24

Claudio Simonetti has been haunting the darkest corners of the psyche since the '70s. A longtime collaborator with horror auteur Dario Argento, Simonetti has written soundtracks for dozens of cult classics in his native Italy and in the U.S. Simonetti just began a U.S.
Preview: Screaming Females and Thou at Banks Street Bar Halloween night

Screaming Females is a fearsome force in modern punk rock fronted by singer and guitarist Marissa Paternoster. Her guitar switches fluidly from pounding chords to virtuosic soloing. Her voice is similarly dynamic, fluctuating in volume and intensity and changing on a dime from melodic crooning to the screeching howl the group's name implies.
Preview: Mike Watt + The Missingmen come to One Eyed Jacks Oct. 23

Mike Watt + the Missingmen At 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, at One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., (504) 569-8361. Tickets $20. Bassist Mike Watt is a titan of DIY rock. In 1978 in San Pedro, California, he formed The Reactionaries, a group that soon became the Minutemen.
Preview: Danny Brown at Republic NOLA Oct. 16

For close to a decade, Danny Brown has been hip-hop's weird older brother - the one dad kicked out of the house but mom still loves. He broke into the mainstream in 2011 at age 30 with his second studio album, "XXX." At the time, he was gap-toothed and sported a scraggly mane.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters perform at Mahalia Jackson Theater on Wednesday, Nov. 13

Declan Patrick MacManus was born 65 years ago in London's Paddington neighborhood. He signed with Stiff Records at 22, and his manager suggested he start performing as Elvis Costello. That same year, he released his debut album, "My Aim is True," which featured such signature singles as "Alison" and "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes."
The Egyptian Lover brings his old-school hip-hop sound to Southport Hall

Gregory Broussard (aka The Egyptian Lover) is the long-reigning king of the Roland TR-808 drum machine and a pioneer of early hip-hop and electronic dance music. Starting his career in the early '80s, he gained prominene on the burgeoning scene with a string of 12-inch singles, including enduring hits like "Egypt, Egypt" and "I Cry (Night After Night)."
Brooklyn power-pop outfit Charly Bliss to play in New Orleans at Gasa Gasa

Charly Bliss is a Brooklyn, New York power-pop outfit you'll soon hear about if you haven't already. Eva Hendricks delivers catchy vocals, while guitarist Spencer Fox, bassist Dan Shure and drummer Sam Hendricks lay down infectious grooves with references to synth pop, garage rock and early 2000s indie rock.
Oscar Rossignoli Quartet melds New Orleans and Latin jazz with classical training to create rich...

Oscar Rossignoli folds many traditions into his music. The Honduran-born pianist began training in classical music when he was 6. In high school at a conservatory in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, he discovered Latin jazz through Dominican pianist Michel Camilo. On a music scholarship at Louisiana State University, he continued his classical studies but began playing with some of New Orleans' best jazz musicians.
The Spirit of the Beehive to bring eerie, psychedelic ambience to Gasa Gasa

The Spirit of the Beehive (TSOTB) is a singularity. Like its 1973 Spanish movie namesake, the Philadelphia-based band's music is eerie and psychedelic, melding complex harmonies, shifting meters and mind-bending effects with catchy melodies and engaging lyrics. The five-piece outfit, fronted by singer/guitarist Zack Schwartz, also includes drummer Pat Conaboy, guitarist/knob twister Kyle Laganella, multi-instrumentalist Corey Wichlin and bassist/vocalist Rivka Ravede.
Preview: Blue & Exile at the Howlin' Wolf Den

Rapper Johnson Barnes III (Blu) and producer Aleksander Manfredi (Exile) met in the early 2000s, years after the end of hip-hop's golden age. Blu was working as a hype man for older performers, including Slum Village, and Exile was producing for singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc, who introduced the West Coast duo.
Music preview: DaBaby at Republic NOLA May 19

"That ain't DaBaby, that's my baby," is the tag that opens most DaBaby tracks. Then, he often continues with a simple "Hi," a disarmingly straightforward greeting that previews some refreshingly straightforward bars. Jonathan Lyndale Kirk has released eight mixtapes since 2017, but it wasn't until "Baby on Baby," his debut studio album on Interscope Records, dropped that he received attention from mainstream listeners.
Music preview: Mannequin Pussy meshes explosive mix of punk, shoegaze, bedroom pop

Mannequin Pussy has a volatile molecular structure, ready to react on a moment's notice. The band's sound is an uneven mix of punk, shoegaze and bedroom pop - elements that blend with the subtlety of POP ROCKS and Coke. Fronted by singer/guitarist Marisa Dabice, the Philadelphia four-piece makes short, thrashing songs that jump styles with head-spinning velocity.
Preview: Cimafunk with Soul Rebels at Tipitina's

Erik Iglesias Rodriguez, aka Cimafunk, is not afraid of borders. The first half of his stage name comes from "cimarron," Spanish for wild or untamed. The term has come to stand for a freewheeling, untamable lifestyle. It's fitting for Rodriguez, whose music mixes Afro-Cuban rhythms and elements of old-school and modern funk.


ALDOUS HARDING DESIGNER (4AD) On album-opener "Fixture Picture," a breathy solo gives way to a rockin' harmonious chorus as Aldous Harding ushers in a new era of ensemble sound. 2017's Party was lonely-when performed live, it was just Hanna "Aldous" Harding, her many vocal masks, and keyboardist Jared Samuel (Invisible Familiars).

"WHAT I LIKE": AG picks for BUKU 2020

As you've probably heard by now (like literally heard, when the bass rumbles up and down the river every year), The BUKU Music + Art Project packs a lot of punch into the riverfront Mardi Gras World campus it's called home for the past near-decade.


ANNA LAURA QUINN I FEEL THE SUDDEN URGE TO SING! (SELF-RELEASE) Anna Laura Quinn's gentle crooning would be just as easy on the ears any time of year, but the release of her new EP I Feel The Sudden Urge To Sing! is timed perfectly to the glorious spring now upon us.


BOY HARSHER CAREFUL (NUDE CLUB) Boy Harsher's second full length delivers a set of airtight, propulsive goth dance tracks. The '80s are written across this album in large capital letters; but rather than cloying nostalgia for its own sake, the influences of Information Society, Pet Shop Boys, or even John Carpenter's effectively minimal horror scores [...]


CLOUD NOTHINGS LAST BUILDING BURNING (CARPARK) Last Building Burning is the fifth full-length for the prolific Cleveland indie-punk band Cloud Nothings. The band has come a long way since starting as a solo project in lead-singer/guitarist Dylan Baldi's basement. They have excelled at molding aggressive punk attitude into easily digestible pop songs.


CASSIUS DREEMS (CAROLINE) The fifth and final studio album from French producers Phillippe Zdar and Hubert Blanc-Francard (better known as Boom Bass) continues the duo's tradition of sunny, bombastic house that helped define the French Touch sound in the '90s. Released just two days after Zdar fell to his death from a building in Paris [...]


AMERICAN FOOTBALL LP3 (POLYVINYL) Mike Kinsella has been highly influential in the recent scene of "emo revival" bands. His past and present acts are a crew of Chicago emo staples spanning more than 20 years, which include Cap'n Jazz, Owls, Owen, and American Football. I'm a sucker for drummers who turn to songwriting, and Kinsella [...]


KELLY DUPLEX HOVERROUND (SELF-RELEASED) Since January, the Noise Complaints' Shane Avrard has been releasing one song at a time under the name kelly duplex. Instrumental jams and sparse covers suggest the project is as much about experimental home recording as songwriting. In September, kelly duplex released their first EP, a five-song collection of basement pop [...]


BOREALIS REX CUT YOUR TEETH (DRAG SNAKE) On their debut EP, Borealis Rex get down with five songs of pure Southern rock that hearkens back decades. Opener "Flood" is a ripping, boogie rock throwdown that could easily be mistaken for a lost '70s-era ZZ Top cut, if not for its distinct banjo breakdowns.


BIG FREEDIA 3RD WARD BOUNCE EP (ASYLUM) Right now, bounce music is having a small resurgence, most notably outside of New Orleans. This is thanks in no small part to Drake deciding it should be the "new" music genre he has "discovered" on his latest album.


A LIVING SOUNDTRACK TEZUKAYAMA 帝塚山 (STRANGE DAISY) After an incredible sophomore release in 2011, a trip to Japan, a life-threatening bus ride, a couple of kids, glow-in-the-dark neon glasses, and rejuvenating reflection, A Living Soundtrack is back with Tezukayama. ALS has always allowed their releases to tell stories that reflect the band's internal relationship.


CARDI B INVASION OF PRIVACY (ATLANTIC) Women of color are out here breaking world records! Upon its release, Invasion of Privacy headed straight for the top spot on the Billboard 200, surpassed the 500,000 sales mark and was certified gold, and Cardi B is now a self-made millionaire at the tender age of 25.


ALFRED BANKS MERE EXPOSURE EFFECT (UNDERDOG CENTRAL) The versatile Alfred Banks can rap to a DJ, a band, or even a cappella. He can go a mile a minute or slow it down so you can keep up. This five-song EP tends toward the latter, favoring headbobbers over bangers and singalongs over long verses.


ALVVAYS ANTISOCIALITES (POLYVINYL) I've heard plenty of disappointment about Alvvays' 2015 Gasa Gasa appearance, yet I only became aware of the band for how many copies of their first record I sold volunteering at Sisters in Christ the day following. I heard complaints about the band's stage presence-which was the crux to my finally grasping [...]


BEACH HOUSE 7 (SUB POP) Baltimore duo Beach House serves up an instantly appealing seventh long-player. 7 truly shines and surpasses their previous accomplishments via massive drum machines, synths, and layered guitars. The band worked with a new producer, Peter Kember, a.k.a. Sonic Boom (Panda Bear, MGMT, Spacemen 3); his ingenuity and syrupy weight is [...]


FRANK OCEAN ENDLESS (DEF JAM) While technically released in 2016 as a visual album, many dismissed Endless as just a way for Frank Ocean to get out of his contract with Def Jam Records. (His much larger, more lauded release Blonde would be released the very next night.)


DIN REAL DIRT (DKA) A departure from the pitch-perfect electro-punk throwback of High-Functioning Flesh, Greg Vand takes a softer, sleeker approach while backing partner Josie Vand in Din. The Vands seem to channel contemporaries Gel Set and Boy Harsher on Real Dirt, with remote vocals, darkness, spaciousness, and industrial danceability, all attenuated to recreate the [...]


ARIEL PINK DEDICATED TO BOBBY JAMESON (MEXICAN SUMMER) Indie pop's most mysterious shut-in has done it again. Chillwave progenitor and asshole interviewee Ariel Rosenberg (Ariel Pink) is back, with his least zany album to date. Bobby Jameson was a famously unsuccessful musician, chewed up and spit out by an industry that once marketed him as [...]


BATHS ROMAPLASM (ANTICON) It has been four long years since Baths (a.k.a. Will Wiesenfeld) released the haunting record Obsidian. As a longtime fan, I never thought he could top those complex and driving soundscapes from 2013. But of course, I was wrong. Listening to Romaplasm, his fourth studio album, is to soak in magnificent wonder.

My Spilt Milk
DJ Soul Sister Does More With Less - My Spilt Milk

New Orleans' favorite DJ will hold her last weekly HUSTLE! party this Saturday, but she's not going anywhere. Melissa Weber ( DJ Soul Sister ) announced last week that this Saturday's HUSTLE! will be the party's final weekly edition at the Hi-Ho Lounge . This week's HUSTLE!

My Spilt Milk
Downtown Boys Fight Fascism - My Spilt Milk

The elevator pitch for the revolutionary Rhode Island punk band, who play Gasa Gasa on Thursday. Who: Downtown Boys, with Special Interest openingWhat: Sax-infused DIY punk.When: Thursday, September 7, 9 p.m. Where: Gasa Gasa, 4920 Freret St.Why: Most Americans don't like what's going on in our government today, but few disapprove as loudly or effectively as Downtown Boys.

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Dean Ween Takes Tips - My Spilt Milk

The Dean Ween Group brought their goofy brand to Tipitina's Wednesday night, with special guest Mike Dillon sitting in. An unassuming black and white RV was parked on the corner of Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas Wednesday night. Inside was Mickey "Dean Ween" Melchiondo, guitarist and co-frontman of th

My Spilt Milk
Mild High Club Doesn't Mess Around - My Spilt Milk

Alex Brettin's musical alias paints him as an affable stoner, but he's as intense as they come. "I'm not trying to soundtrack your fucking life," says Alex Brettin, a.k.a. Mild High Club. "This is just my thing, and if you like it, hell yeah, I hope it's inspiring, but if you don't, fuck off."

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Flying Lotus Throws a Tantrum at The Joy - My Spilt Milk

There were breathtaking moments in FlyLo's set Wednesday night, but his unforgivable antics took over the narrative. It's not news anymore that Stephen Ellison (Flying Lotus) can be whiny. Last year, frustrated by the plight of producers in a rapper-centric hip-hop industry, he tweeted that "hella

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Broken Social Scene Converges - My Spilt Milk

BSS's Brendan Canning discussed the rebirth of his band before playing his first New Orleans show in seven years. Canadian indie pop big band Broken Social Scene could very easily be the punchline to a joke your alt uncle tells at Thanksgiving or the subject of a Hard Times headline.

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Lil Wayne Points Festival-Sized Middle Finger at Cash Money - My Spilt Milk

Weezy focused on music for most of the show, but couldn't resist throwing some shade at Birdman in his closing statement. The animosity between Lil Wayne and Bryan "Birdman" Williams has been intense and well-publicized. It started (or at least moved into the public eye) in December of 2014, day

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Thundercat Plays Drunk, Sober - My Spilt Milk

Despite moments of pandering, the bass god delivered a dazzling performance to a sell-out crowd at Tipitina's on Friday. "How many of y'all drink 151?" asked Stephen " Thundercat " Bruner, half-way through his set at Tipitina's Friday night. The crowd responded convincingly. Bruner laughed, made a

My Spilt Milk
Omni Doesn't Look Back - My Spilt Milk

The straight-ahead rock trio set their sights on Santos this Wednesday. [Updated] "We kind of just throw it together really quickly and try not to think about it too much," says guitarist Frankie Broyles of his band's songwriting process. Broyles, bassist/lead singer Philip Frobos, and recently

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New Orleans Makes its Presence Known at South By Southwest - My Spilt Milk

NOLA's small but strong showing at the week-long music festival was enough to remind the industry how diverse and far-reaching our influence is. Of the hundreds of bands that played in Austin last week, only 14 New Orleans acts performed at official South By Southwest showcases. But these acts-

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard Predict the End of Days - My Spilt Milk

The zany Australian psych-rockers brought the apocalyptic prophecies of their latest album to One Eyed Jacks last Thursday. Add four parts Can, three parts OCS, two parts Sabbath, and (if you must) one part Rush to your biggest, blackest cauldron, and boil over volcanic rock from Mount Doom. Stir

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The Mystery Lights Go for Raw Energy - My Spilt Milk

The garage rock band's debut album is the first on Daptone Records' new rock label, Wick. Mike Brandon and Luis "L.A." Solano are pretty unassuming for two guys who just signed a record deal. Two weeks ago, their band The Mystery Lights released a self-titled LP, their first under cele

My Spilt Milk
Herbie Hits Home - My Spilt Milk

At 77, Hancock hasn't lost a step. Jazz, like light, changes every time you look at it. No one embodies this constant flux better than Herbie Hancock , who is still alive, well, and making moves at 77.

My Spilt Milk
Esmé Patterson Makes Progress - My Spilt Milk

Patterson's latest album, "We Were Wild," makes deeply personal issues feel universal. Esmé Patterson 's three solo projects follow a natural progression. Her first, All Princes, I (2012), is an angst-ridden album that feels urgently personal and in the moment, with songs t

My Spilt Milk
Boris Starts From Scratch - My Spilt Milk

The Japanese noise trio's set at One Eyed Jacks sounded more like an alien transmission than a rock show. When Boris played One Eyed Jacks recently, there were moments when the Japanese noise-rock trio sounded as though it had scrapped the entire history of recorded music and created an entirely

My Spilt Milk
New Breed Grows Up at Jazz Fest - My Spilt Milk

The band talks about Trombone Shorty, Frenchmen Street, and how a brass band plays without horns before performing on the Jazz and Heritage Stage this Saturday. New Breed Brass Band is not so new anymore.

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Mipso Gets to the Point - My Spilt Milk

The "contemporary folk" quartet looks to its roots and finds new ones on "Coming Down the Mountain." Despite its mysterious name, Mipso is a remarkably plainspoken outfit. On its third album, Coming Down the Mountain, released in April, the band deals with heartbreak, homes

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Voodoo News: Pell Finds Peace - My Spilt Milk

New Orleans native Jared Pellerin is taking his time, despite pressure to produce. In a hip-hop landscape that grows more turbulent by the minute, 25-year-old rapper Jared " Pell " Pellerin is surprisingly zen. A New Orleans native, he moved to Mississippi with his family after the storm, went to

My Spilt Milk
Peaches Shares the Spotlight at The Music Box - My Spilt Milk

The electroclash artist explored sexual tropes at a sold out Music Box last Friday accompanied by an all-woman troupe. "I'm an everlasting iconoclast," raps Merrill Beth Nisker-- Peaches --on her most recent release, Rub (2015). It's a bold claim, but a well-deserved one. Peaches has made perfor

My Spilt Milk
Day for Night Offers an Optimistic Vision of the Apocalypse - My Spilt Milk

The third annual edition of Houston's premier music festival was a futuristic 3-day party that made the end of days look fun. In most locales north of the equator, festival season is over, but the Gulf South stays warm long enough to extend its debauchery well into the fall.

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Tank and the Bangas Touch All the Bases at The Music Box - My Spilt Milk

Their Show at The Music Box's new permanent location on Friday was frenetic and a lot of fun. Walking into The Music Box 's new permanent digs in the Bywater is like entering a post-apocalyptic shantytown. It's exciting to stand amidst the seemingly slap-dash "musical architecture;" jerry-rigged

My Spilt Milk
Voodoo News: Anderson .Paak Slides Up Ladders - My Spilt Milk

With his slick voice and playful persona, he makes his music look easy; but that's not the whole story. Anderson .Paak slid under the industry's collective radar for a long time. An R&B singer with a raw, unpolished voice and an old-school hip-hop sensibility, he was relegated to the und

My Spilt Milk
Last Week: You Can Take Beck Anywhere Once - My Spilt Milk

Beck is one of the best living rock musicians by anyone's standards, so why did his show last Thursday sometimes feel like one long Dad joke? My grandfather was a real catchphrase guy. He didn't speak in aphorisms, just affable taglines that reminded you of the jovial man he was.

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Bully Does What's Natural - My Spilt Milk

The Nashville rockers bring their uncut angst to Gasa Gasa Sunday night. Alicia Bognanno's voice is a powerful instrument, raw as sushi and stuffed with endless ennui. Her band, Bully , is a traditional 4-piece outfit-two guitars, a bass, drums-that backs Bognanno with crunchy, forceful grooves.

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Jazz Fest: The Elevator Pitch for Terrace Martin - My Spilt Milk

For some reason, no one is talking about Terrace Martin's Jazz Fest set this Thursday, and it's got me all fired up. Who: Terrace Martin What: Composer, producer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist; jazz/funk/soul/hip-hop fusion extraordinaire. When: Thursday, May 3, 4:15 p.m. Where: WWOZ Jazz T

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Kamasi Washington's Cosmic Voyage Touches Down at One Eyed Jacks - My Spilt Milk

Washington won't be playing at the Fair Grounds again this year, but that could be for the best. In contemporary jazz, few names ring out as loud as Kamasi Washington . The Los Angeles-based baritone saxophonist, band leader, composer, and cosmonaut towers above the scene, his massive frame dwarf

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Mac DeMarco Grows Up, Stays Goofy - My Spilt Milk

On tour for his maturest album to date, the aging millenial iconoclast stayed true to his silly roots Wednesday night at the Orpheum. McBriare "Mac" DeMarco turned 27 in April. Conventional wisdom says he should be smack in the middle of his millennial quarter-life crisis right about now. But T

My Spilt Milk
Last Night: James Blake Gave Us a Glimpse into the Future - My Spilt Milk

Blake brought a mixed bag of moody ballads and upbeat dance tracks to the Orpheum Tuesday night. It all sounded good. Earlier this month, Kraftwerk brought a future from the past to the Orpheum Theater. London singer/songwriter/producer James Blake brought his own version of the future to the

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Noname Radiates Confidence - My Spilt Milk

The young rapper/poet lit up the stage at Tipitina's with her easy charm. Fatimah Warner snuck onto the scene in 2013 as Noname Gypsy, outclassing Chance the Rapper on his own track, "Lost," from Acid Rap , the mixtape that catapulted him to unprecedented levels of indie success.

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Jay-Z Stays on his Grind - My Spilt Milk

After two decades on top of the rap game, Hov hustled as hard as ever at the Smoothie King Center Thursday night. Jay-Z has always been the best at brushing off hate.

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Destructo Gets HARD for Music - My Spilt Milk

HARD Events CEO Gary Richards has made a name for himself as a promoter, but the music is what keeps him going. Gary Richards is a busy guy. As founder and CEO of HARD Events , he organizes and promotes dozens of shows and festivals around the world each year, including Holy Ship!

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LCD Soundsystem Makes More Out of More - My Spilt Milk

The first name in dance-punk played the Orpheum last Saturday night, where the details and additions made the difference. "Sometimes friends are jerks," sang James Murphy Saturday night at the Orpheum, eliciting an audible gasp from the audience. They'd been singing along with "Dance Yrs

My Spilt Milk
Last Week: Lil Yachty Stole the Show from Young Thug - My Spilt Milk

Musically, Yachty was still working it out, but his energy made the night about him. [This review from The Republic last week is the first from new contributor Raphael Helfand.] In Atlanta, 23-year-old Young Thug (aka Thugger or just Thug) sits atop the trap world, competing with 32-year-old

Tulane's Get-Out-of-Jail (Almost) Free Card

By Raphael Helfand Jimmy was in trouble. He sat in what he remembers as "pretty much a huge DMV," waiting for his case to be processed. Behind him loomed Orleans Parish Central Lockup, a "gigantic cage" filled with menacing figures in orange jumpsuits. He'd been picked up earlier that night for walking in the middle...

The Tulane Hullabaloo
New Breed of Tulane musician

Junior Aurélien Barnes wasn't heralded into this world to the sound of a second line, but he might as well have been. Son of New Orleans zydeco legend Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, Aurélien heard various types of music before he uttered his first words. "I didn't really have a choice but to be around music," Barnes said....

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