FRIDAY

Drum machines, synthesizers, and a Middle Eastern concept album: Doesn’t sound very punk, does it? But that’s exactly the point. Ever since political hardcore icons Born Against broke up, in 1993, their smartass former vocalist Sam McPheeters, onetime bassist Neil Burke, and an ever-rotating cast of collaborators have pissed all over the punk orthodoxy with a prolific stream of electronica-driven annoyances. Whereas Born Against’s high-velocity diatribes attacked the ignorance of social conservatism, Men’s Recovery Project (MRP) yields to the complexities of human sanity and compassion, and the band’s satirical—not to mention surreal—post-punk mocks instead of prescribes: “Hey, wait, I’m a normal man, no different than any of you/I have normal interests and normal needs, and I can do most anything you can do.” MRP’s 2000 dystopian short film The Humans—which is both visually and structurally indebted to Chris Marker’s La Jetée—kills off us poor Homo sapiens, only to look back and laugh. But it’s on its last full-length album, Bolides Over Basra, that the group completely plunges off the deep end: “Egyptian assassin/It’s a gross, lonely life/Depression, doubt, bouts of dandruff/But if you don’t bake the bread you can’t make the sandwich.” And by juxtaposing such intentionally hackneyed Middle Eastern stereotypes, kidnapping intrigue, and some robotic rock, MRP makes most records released last year, or any year, sound positively timid. MRP plays with Autechre and Ron Hall & Russell Haswell at 9:30 p.m. Friday, May 25, at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $15. (202) 393-0930. (Brent Burton)

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