Self-described as a purveyor of “Hi-NRG new age” music from “an H Class planet far across the cosmic highways,” it wouldn’t be a stretch to characterize Benny Divine, or BÊNNÍ, as an eccentric. Indeed, for ambitious listeners, I&II will prove a treat. This album is a party held by John Carpenter with Kraftwerk and Todd Rundgren as guests of honor. Jabbing arpeggios anchor driving motorik beats, while more delicate flourishes and ripping key leads reach great heights. The album isn’t entirely beat-driven, however, and the pure ambient tracks are dense, yet tasteful. This is music for true space cadets, which extends to the album’s magma planet cover art and track titles such as “Pyrran Control Station” and “Moons of Almuric.” This would be a great album to take with you on a trip to another galaxy, or otherwise. —Corey Cruse


Dale Crover is legendary as the prolific drummer of The Melvins. When most people think of him, they tend to think of powerful, thunderous rhythms, and not his work as a singer or guitarist. On The Fickle Finger of Fate, Crover’s debut full-length solo album, he plays 90% of the instruments, including guitar, keyboards, and vocals (at times unexpectedly dreamy)—in addition to his trademark drumming. Contributors include longtime Melvins engineer Toshi Kasai, current Melvins/Red Kross bassist Steven McDonald, Dan Southwick (bassist of Crover’s side project, Altamont), and Scarlett Crover, his 12-year-old daughter (on violin, percussion, and vocals). Nine of the 20 songs on the album are instrumental drum tracks that clock in at 30 seconds or less, originally recorded for the experimental 6-spindle-hole record, Skins. Southwick co-wrote and appears on the grunge-y, bass-driven track “Bad Move.” “Hillbilly Math” is a more straightforward, driving rock tune, while “Tiny Sound” gives a tribal-sounding nod to Pork Soda-era Primus. The range of styles presented throughout Fickle Finger makes for a satisfying listen, sure to please any of Crover’s fans. —Jenn Attaway


Dälek’s live shows rival the heaviest doom metal, the most banging ‘90s hip-hop, and the loudest drone orchestra. Some might try to classify them in their own genre, but if you ask the MC himself, Dälek are entirely hip-hop. So keep your shoegaze comparisons to yourself, naw meen? On this, their seventh album (and the second after a considerable hiatus), they continue to bring the aggressive, relentless onslaught of both beats and lyrics that express the brutal reality of our current world. While the themes of Dälek remain intense, there are tracks on all of their albums that are more atmospheric and cinematic; on this album in particular, Dälek have made some of their best. Simply put, this is music for people who love hip-hop and unique music, recognize where we struggle as a nation, refuse to accept the injustice, and want to start a dialectic. —Edward Pellegrini


It’s exhilarating to hear Dave Lombardo and Mike Patton together again. Dead Cross describes their self-titled debut as “hardcore punk,” but one could easily argue that it’s more along the lines of “crossover,” as its roots in metal are apparent. Truly, anything Patton lends vocals to is difficult enough to categorize, what with his manic screams, high-pitched screeching, and minor-key vocal harmonies. A couple of the songs were released before the album, including “Grave Slave,” a limited sneak peak of “Shillelagh,” and “Seizure and Desist,” which came out as the first single. The album also includes a pretty straightforward, albeit faster and more percussion-heavy cover of Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” “Idiopathic” features dual vocals by Patton and original singer Gabe Serbian, with lots of subtle backing vocals. Fans of Patton’s vocal acrobatics, Lombardo’s aggressive drumming, and the blitzing guitar and bass of Retox’s Mike Crain and Justin Pearson are going to be glad they checked this one out. —Jenn Attaway


For those uninitiated with fri(G)id, they have been performing in bars, DIY spaces, and houses for the past few years. Each performance, seemingly better than the last, captivates and punishes alike. The Terminology Is Flawed is the first official recorded document of the project. Layers of abrasive audio concrete meld with vocals and topical speech samples. Pain, gender, identity at large, and the intersection of these topics are all explored, the album title a thesis statement. Among the standout tracks are “Strait Talk,” featuring Fatplastik, “Efficacy (Penis Envy),” and the crushing album closer, “Vagina Wasp.” Mastered by Baltimore noise luminary Eric Trude (a.k.a. Stress Orphan), Terminology hits like a semi-truck, exactly how a great harsh noise album should sound. Corey Cruse


My friend Andy Rötzz has described 2017 as a “metal renaissance.” In contrast, underground hardcore punk has been a letdown thus far this year. Finally, however, queer hardcore titans Limp Wrist have answered the call, unveiling their first record in nine years: Facades. In a world—including the punk scene—increasingly fraught with hyper-divisive segmentation, Limp Wrist remains a band capable of unity. Anyone who has witnessed their spontaneous energy can attest to this power. The ability to absorb ridicule and persevere in this daunting world shines through on the track “Thick Skin.” “A Little Nervous,” a title applicable to people in myriad situations both in and out of punk, showcases how trepidation can always be overcome. Facades exudes the pummeling, spit-your-anger-out hardcore that Limp Wrist has long personified. However, the record’s last three songs are a stylistic departure; “My Mind,” “Dead Artist,” and “Systems in Place” suggests a possible Limp Wrist-Northwest Indiana collaboration with outfits such as The Coneheads to create their interpretation of mutant electronic music. Such a fusion of sounds and personalities again exemplifies how Limp Wrist can unite the tribes. —Dan McCoy


As a Polish kid from the Rust Belt, I thought “zydeco” was just a funny word I saw in Windows Media Player in high school. After assimilating more into Louisiana, I’ve found that zydeco is an exciting tradition. As a fan of experimental and punk music, the cosmopolitan progressivism Lost Bayou Ramblers brings to zydeco makes for an approachable immersion. This time around, they’ve brought in LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire producer Korey Richey, Pogues member Spider Stacey, Jimmy “King James” Horn, Dickie Landry, and Leyla McCalla to augment their already skillful synthesis of Cajun heritage and post-punk experimentalism. The album’s title is yet another token to the band’s syncretic approach to Cajun and Creole traditions; Kalenda is a multi-layered reference to a Haitian stick fight, a Louisianian rhythm, a pan-Caribbean dance, and a storied Cajun woman. While the band’s work has always been Cajun first, synthesizers and ensuing post-rock atmospheres have been a massive deviation, and Kalenda offers such further experiments as industrial throb (“Freetown Crawl Fightin’ville Brawl”) and Hawaiian slide guitar (“Aloha Golden Meadow”). Kalenda is a dazzling listen that continues the Ramblers’ passionate, futurist crossbreeding of zydeco with the American and British underground. —Ben Miotke


Unlike the usual punk rock house show fare of sweaty boys sternly spraying torrid riffs, Room 101 was, in my first exposure, one man, a guitar, pre-recorded tracks, and a projector displaying a montage of political action. Sole member Roburt Reynolds breaks from his predominantly white, male peers in local punk by evoking Big Black’s sound and offering a more intersectional context to his radical leftist subject matter by way of montage. Local label Summary Execution now offers up Reynolds’ mutant rancor in Room 101’s new self-titled LP. It blisters with the synth-damaged noise rock of Reynolds’ live show, but clarifies his sound to show aspects of the Jesus Lizard, U.S. Maple, and Devo. Reynolds’ lyrics, often howled statements of distinctly post-punk social grotesquerie, can be difficult to unpack from the convulsing, mechanized din. But the sum of these facets is a distorted, critical portraiture of the educated male as he is affected by the status quo. Recommended for weirdo MRR readers and fans of locals Mystic Inane, Special Interest, and Rim Job. —Ben Miotke


New Orleans has plenty of sludge, but Space Cadaver’s new release on local metal/hardcore label C Rage launches it into the mid-’90s post-metal realm. Metal and post-metal listeners will find a fair amount of familiarity in power grooves, astral guitar effects, and somber/bombastic dynamics keeping with post-metal icons such as Cave In and Helmet—though Space Cadaver deviates in a way that maximizes their three piece format and resonates more with the New Orleans punk aesthetic. As a three piece, Space Cadaver foregoes the conventional inclusion of synthesizers and thereby a lot of codified ambient atmospheres that typically manifest in post-metal. Instead, there’s a crusty, blackened quality to their guttural, grunted vocals and less refined production. Limited edition tapes from C Rage are at local stores and available at the band’s frequent live shows. —Ben Miotke


On With You In Mind, Galactic’s Stanton Moore delivers a shining testament to Allen Toussaint. Recorded only weeks after Toussaint’s passing, Moore’s band quickly learned numbers from the legend’s songbook. As a result, the tunes feel fresh and in the moment, instead of stiffly over rehearsed. The group pulls “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky” out of its normal time signature and reconstructs it, creating something distinctly their own. The album sports a who’s who of New Orleans music, including Trombone Shorty, Donald Harrison Jr., and Cyril Neville, who sings on half of the album. “Night People,” sung by Neville, breathes a funky humidity that is distinctly Toussaint. Jolynda Kiki Chapman’s vocals spill with emotion on the romantic ballad “All These Things.” On the title track, Moore’s trio strips away the special guests and reminds listeners that their strong musicianship is the foundation of this album. Pianist David Torkanowsky sparsely lays down the song’s signature melodies while bassist James Singleton shines forth with a beautiful solo. The album closes with Wendell Pierce reciting the lyrics to “Southern Nights” over a sparse drumbeat, before Moore’s trio and Nicholas Payton dive deep into an instrumental rendition. —William Archambeault



Acclaimed short story writer George Saunders, in his first novel, trains his dry, puckish prose on a freighted subject: Abraham Lincoln at the moment of his young son’s death during the escalation of the Civil War. The grieving President visits a graveyard whose inhabitants are unwilling to let go of their earthly attachments, remaining stuck in the bardo, a Buddhist concept somewhat like purgatory (Saunders excels here at twinning Buddhist and Christian concepts). Their spoken commentary makes up most of the novel’s content, along with a wide range of “citations” from Lincoln-related writing, including scholarly sources, letters, and contemporary written accounts. The novel contains no exposition, and the multiplicity of voices allows Saunders to recreate a major historical moment while having fun with period-specific language. This is a familiar and entertaining Saunders diversion, and in general the book is an expansion of his distinct style. But what makes this novel excellent is how empathetically it treats the most mysterious causes of attachment and suffering, like death, regret, and love. In the image of the grieving Lincoln, we can’t come to terms with our circumstances, but must act regardless. The novel’s deep engagement with this position makes it a profoundly rewarding read. —Travis Bird


Teenage Esch narrates the story of herself and her family in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. They live in Bois Sauvage, in rural Mississippi, on a property they call The Pit. Her daddy is trying to protect their land from the onslaught of August storms. Her brother Skeetah is obsessed with his pit bull, China, and trying to keep China’s puppies alive. Randall is playing to win a scholarship to basketball camp. Little Junior is eating Top Ramen like crackers and trying to pet China’s pups. Esch is sick and dealing with her first, unrequited love. None of them are prepared for what is about to hit them, but as the winds grow stronger, the reader can feel the bonds of friends and family and community supporting them. The author was born and raised in DeLisle, Mississippi and offers an inside look into what it can feel like to be Black and poor in the rural South. Her lyrical writing sweeps the reader into the vortex of the coming storm. Ward wrote this novel to help people remember what happened in August of 2005, lest we forget to reconcile our mistakes and turn up unprepared for the next one. —Alex Taylor



Dear White People captures the complexities of the Black student experience at Winchester, a predominantly white, Ivy League university. Writer, director, and show creator Justin Simien has smoothly translated his original 2014 film of the same name, bringing it to a new Netflix audience. In ten chapters, Dear White People explores individuality, sexual identity, police brutality, education, and racism; these come together to paint the bigger picture of being a minority in a society that is too ignorant (or too self-conscious) to care. Using the platform of her on-campus radio show “Dear White People,” central character Samantha White expresses outrage over a blackface party called “Dear Black People;” hosted by popular White fraternity, Pastiche. The offense over the party drives the narrative arc of the season, but the show also explores the interaction within the Black student body, highlighting debates on classism and skin tone. With strong dialogue and exceptional acting, Dear White People uncovers genuine issues in every episode. And although the title can be intimidating, it invites people of all races to join in on the uncomfortable, but necessary conversation about racism. —Morgan Lawrence


The Hippocratic Oath states that one must acknowledge the awesome responsibility and humility of holding human lives in one’s hands while accepting the fate of mortality, cresting with the promise that, “Above all, I must not play at God.” The Oath follows Finnur, a soft-spoken surgeon who lives in the quiet, affluent suburbia of Iceland. This psychological thriller is anchored by writer/director/lead actor Baltasar Kormákur (101 Reykjavik, Everest, Contraband). As Finnur, he struggles to pull his eldest, addict daughter Anna away from her drug-dealing boyfriend, Ottar. In an effort to get Ottar arrested, Finnur ends up owing him $6 million dollars for his confiscated cocaine—and that’s the wholesale price. He then resorts to taking the law into his own hands to keep Ottar away from Anna. The audience is in for an intense action thriller scored with dark, ominous strings that perfectly set the tone for the frozen backdrop. Reminiscent of Taken, Finnur’s character takes on new dimension as his role shifts from heroic father to sinister villain. The Oath premieres at Zeitgeist for a weeklong run starting Friday, September 8th. —Morgan Lawrence

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