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 and serene post rock. The title track stands out as the strongest offering, all infectious melancholy over the pocket rhythm of bassist Kenny Murphy and drummer Dreux Lebourgeois. The other full-band, pop-structure track, “Good Title,” sounds unfinished by comparison, with meta lyrics that reflect the self-conscious early writing process more so than postmodern subversion. “Rimpau (instrumental #2)” is a glowing psychedelic vamp, spliced with found sounds both natural and technological; fans of Do Make Say Think will appreciate it. The remaining two songs give a better idea of the kelly duplex live experience, with Avrard taking the reigns alone. The guitar track “Ashland (instrumental #3)” is sparse enough to count as ambient noise. The folk tune “Shreveport (acoustic)” is emblematic of Avrard’s songwriting—a stab at the cool distance of Yo La Tengo that keeps getting interrupted by pesky emotion. —Michael Kunz


When he was only 14 years old, Charles Bradley was lucky enough to be in the audience for James Brown’s legendary 1962 Apollo Theater concert. That night, Brown’s incendiary performance blew Bradley open like a heavy dose of psychedelics. Five years later, he started a career as a James Brown impersonator, channelling the Godfather of Soul in New York clubs, under the moniker Black Velvet—hence the title of this posthumous compilation of previously unreleased recordings collected from a decade of Bradley’s Daptone Records studio sessions. Due out on November 9th (four days after what would have been his 70th birthday), Black Velvet speaks to the perseverance that characterized Bradley’s career. Black Velvet-era Charles Bradley gave himself to his music for decades, until his James Brown tribute shows finally got the attention of Daptone producer Tommy Brenneck in 2001. Bradley often referred to himself as the “screaming eagle of soul,” and in the howl of his voice there is an accumulation of sorrow and struggle that a younger man could never convey. The single “I Feel A Change” perhaps best encapsulates this signature sound, which he also brings to covers of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” and Nirvana’s “Stay Away.” The album isn’t all heartache, though. “Love Jones” and “(I Hope You Find) The Good Life” are tracks worthy of the Minister of Funk himself, and the electric version of “Victim of Love” is as sweet and tender as the beloved version on his eponymous second album. After listening to Black Velvet, you might be freshly saddened by his untimely death from cancer one year ago, but this album is a poignant reminder of how much he did give us during his all-too-brief moment of glory. —Holly Devon


Local punk weirdos Dummy Dumpster are back with another CD-R. Occupolars begins with a symphony of grunts, a staged recording of two beings mid-sex act. I won’t give any spoilers, but the outro follows up on this story with some intriguing character revelations. Lasting twelve minutes (only eight of which are actual songs), Occupolars is an extremely quick and easy listen. Many of the lyrics feel like a middle schooler’s attempt at writing violent scenes for horror or action movies. On “Down the Street,” singer and guitarist Mike Schadwell yelps, “He’ll put the sword through your skull / then he’ll pop the skull off the neck / then he’ll kick it like a soccer ball down the street.” Writing a legitimately deep review of this album would negate the entire idea of this band, because Dummy Dumpster is what happens when three grown men (Schadwell is joined by bassist Isidore Grisoli and drummer Bill Heintz) fail to fall prey to the trappings of sophisticated, intellectual rock, instead embracing an adolescent humor that most people steer away from in adulthood. With over a decade and a half under their belts, Dummy Dumpster shows no signs of growing up any time soon. —William Archambeault


Father thrives on dualities that don’t naturally compute in 2018. His music is intelligent but anti-intellectual, and ironic but unequivocally anti-Conservative. His lyrics are carelessly violent and often viciously misogynistic; yet in real life, he seems to be a level-headed entrepreneur who actively promotes female talent in hip-hop. Father’s Atlanta-based label, Awful Records, is a ragtag group of internet-raised artists who seem to take nothing seriously. But somehow, they’ve created a product more vital than any Silicon Valley incubator could hope for. Father’s third release, Awful Swim, comes two-and-a-half years after his second, I’m a Piece of Shit. That’s a normal amount of time in most genres, but a full generation in hip-hop’s current climate of forced prolificacy. Looking back at the last tape, though, it’s not hard to see why he took time off. IAPOS is riddled with self-loathing, and a careful listen reveals unmistakable signs of depression beneath a veneer of grinning indifference. Awful Swim finds Father back in top form and even funnier than he was on his freshman full-length, Who’s Gonna Get Fucked First? “Thotnite,” the album’s second single, is both a club hit and an instantly viral meme, hitting two essential markets in one fell swoop. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s easily the record’s worst song, only because everything else is so damn good. On opener “Mirror, Mirror,” Father sets the tone with relentless witticisms whined over a beat that samples Metal Gear Solid and Left for Dead. Standout “Sephiroth” has a more vintage, Final Fantasy-inspired beat, but feels just as forward-thinking. Each track is brimming with hilarious one-liners and is immaculately produced, almost always by Father or his protege and Awful signee, Meltycanon. The album is sponsored by Adult Swim, a channel that shares Father’s sensibilities more than any other contemporary, non-affiliated musician does. Adult Swim’s roster includes Eric Andre and Tim Heidecker, two of the only people in the world who do irony as well as Father, so the brand merger seems like a natural choice. Less natural is Awful Records’ new “creative partnership” with industry titan RCA. Inked in June, the deal had many worried that Father was selling out. Awful Swim answers these gripes with a resounding middle finger, proving Father may be a huge asshole, but he’s the huge asshole America desperately needs to crawl into right now. —Raphael Helfand


Up until a month ago, Kero Kero Bonito was a bubblegum synth pop trio. Sarah Midori Perry sang and rapped with unfiltered enthusiasm, alternating between English and her native Japanese, while Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled manned the boards. That all changed with the release of Time ‘n’ Place—their sophomore LP and Polyvinyl debut—in early October. On the new album, KKB trade in the 8-bit jingles of their mixtape, Intro Bonito, and the joyful pop anthems of their first full-length, Bonito Generation, for strange, uneven noise experiments featuring both live instruments and analog industrial effects. Perry’s vocals are as cheerful and shimmery as ever, but juxtaposed with these angsty instrumentals, they take on an eerier quality. T’n’P is thematically darker than KKB’s past work as well. Bonito Generation explored millennial malaise with the can-do optimism of three recent college grads. The new project takes on similar subject matter, but from the much more uncertain perspective of slightly less recent grads who’ve experienced the first crushing pangs of adulthood. Its spirit is best embodied on album closer “Rest Stop,” which starts off as a dreamy trip to an empty roadside diner, but soon descends into nightmarish noise, accompanied by barely audible, apocalyptic lyrics that cut off midline, leaving the listener alone in silence. —Raphael Helfand


The long-awaited fifth Carter installment kicks off with a tearful, congratulatory phone call from Lil Wayne’s mother and the third track, “Dedicate,” closes with Barack Obama singing his praises. The presidential nod wasn’t quite old news yet in 2013, when the album was set to drop, before a legal battle with Cash Money Records stalled it indefinitely. Years later, the clip feels longingly distant yet eerily familiar. Not every song has been collecting dust for five years; Wayne updated, recorded, and reworked verses until the late September release. It’s rare for a rap album to incubate this long, and some moments would have been impossible without the wait. After XXXTentacion’s untimely death in June, for example, his hook on “Don’t Cry” may go down as his swan song. Wayne’s timing and delivery are more advanced and nuanced than ever, and his lyrics just as wonky. “I capitalize off my mistakes. Y’all lowercase,” carries shade from the last Carter (“Real G’s move in silence like lasaGna”). But owing either to the long gestation period or Wayne’s growing complacence amidst fatherhood and success, you won’t find anything as spontaneous or exciting as “Six Foot Seven Foot” here. This album feels like a victory lap before Wayne goes into the semi-retirement he’s been promising. —Michael Kunz


Loomis is the longtime moniker donned by Static Masks guitarist/singer and Strange Daisy Records curator, Pat Bailey. With more than 20 releases under his belt, Bailey has quietly become one of the most prolific songwriters in the New Orleans independent music scene. And while previous releases certainly don’t disappoint, the latest album, Shark Water, aims for a deeper connection. The very first moments engage listeners in moody backdrops and Bailey’s signature guitar tapping. He is then able to effortlessly layer those avant-worlds with personal stories and a rock’n’roll songwriting style. The singalong style of songs like “Topsy” and “A Lady…A Cake…1950” elevate the connectivity of this album over previous releases. Through all eight tracks, the grip here is confident. Even in the final, instrumental moments, there is enough ear candy to keep the listener mesmerized until the very last notes dissolve. —Kevin Comarda


Featuring current and former members of several iconic New Orleans hardcore bands—including (but not limited to) Hawg Jaw, Valium Knob, Spickle, and Eyehategod—these old fucks not only still got it, they fuckin nailed it. The twist here is longtime Hawg Jaw drummer Matt Williams steps out from the shadows to orchestrate the majority of this album on guitar, and is joined by guitarist Gregg Harney, bassist Vince LeBlanc, drummer Sid Montz, and fellow Hawg Jaw conspirator Mike Dares on vocals. Something’s Burning combines a lot of elements from the same list of inspiration for modern heavy rock (hardcore, punk, thrash, doom, and early metal) but they’ve done it differently. With precise instrumentation and clean production, no listener will confuse their sound with the swampcore-doom-sludge churned out by most other Louisiana bands of this pedigree. Just when Always Something sounds too pre-thrash hardcore, it pummels you with mid-90s heaviness, sneaks in slightly weird prog changes, and… is that a Stewart Copeland drum beat? It swings, it stomps, it pummels, it gallops, it uses negative space, it’s creepy—it’s all over the place! It may seem like Dares is doing the same old Neanderthal male vocal style, but it’s actually brutal free-verse, in melody. Standout tracks: “Disinfectant,” which has a great solo (even for solo-haters), and “Neither Here Nor There,” the musical equivalent of a spiked bat upside your head. —E. Willy P. and Dan Fox


Wild Nothing’s newest record, Indigo, is an extension of the spacey otherworld Jack Tatum created on previous albums like 2010’s Gemini and 2013’s Empty Estate. Jam-packed with dreamy, blooming synth that drives a sense of mystery, Indigo drips with a welcome familiarity. The record attempts to go beyond Wild Nothing’s typical wheelhouse, toying with complex themes of surrealism. On tracks like “Letting Go” and “The Wheel of Misfortune,” Tatum addresses concepts like living in alternate dimensions and possessing multiple identities, which drive the album forward. Still, a bulk of the tracks on Indigo revolve around a trite version of heartbreak that has been taxidermied by songwriters since the beginning of time. These songs are somewhat uninventive and lack the mouthwatering complication fans have come to know and love from Wild Nothing. Since Indigo is Tatum’s sixth release in the last decade, this lack of innovation might be due to the group’s prolific nature. Regardless, the record makes up for its dearth of excitement with its consumability—Indigo is an exercise in rote movement, perfect for background music, commercials, and a sunny day at the beach. —Maeve Holler


Shane Bauer, a reporter for Mother Jones, spent about four months working undercover as a $9-an-hour guard in a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. Sneaking recording and photography equipment into the prison, he captured the mundanities, regular injustices, and occasional violence of prison life in an institution where services and staff were limited in order to save money for the prison’s operating company. Despite good intentions and even experience on the other side of prison gates—Bauer had been held prisoner in Iran for about two years, after being captured during a hiking trip in Northern Iraq, near the Iranian border—he also found himself growing increasingly antagonistic toward the inmates on his watch. Interspersed with his riveting account of the prison is his exploration of the often horrific history of incarceration in the South, where private and even public institutions looking to profit from those who are locked up is nothing new. Bauer ultimately left the job in a hurry after a colleague was arrested taking exterior photos of the prison, and the facility is now run by a new private operator. But what he’s written still seems highly relevant to Louisiana and, furthermore, the entire United States. —Steven Melendez


This art exhibition (located at the Diboll Gallery in the Loyola University library) is a compelling example of the power of artistic collaboration and female friendship. Erica Lambertson is a well-known New Orleans painter whose geometric brush strokes capture a wide range of human subjects observed from a distance, although the end product is generally more affectionate than aloof. Akasha Rabut is a prolific photographer with a series of New Orleans-focused photo projects, including a series on Edna Karr High School and the Caramel Curves ladies’ motorcycle group. The show features paintings by Lambertson and photos by Rabut with overlapping subject matter. A photo of Rabut’s—three men on horseback, or the Edna Karr dance team, for example—is accompanied by Lambertson’s painting of the same image. Seeing the different interpretations of the same image is an interesting study of their respective media and styles. Rabut’s photographic style is very precise, and her work gives you the impression that she is always at the right place at the right time. Lambertson’s dreamier images also elegantly capture a particular moment in time, but the same moment feels more languid and less fleeting. The two women have been friends for years, and it is fun to imagine the collaborative process between the two—how they viewed their subjects and each other’s interpretations. The resulting study of light and time brings additional depth to both their work, and reminds us that even in solitary artistic endeavors, there is always something to be gained from collaboration. —Holly Devon

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