Down and Dirty CD Recommendations

Mar. 10, 2008
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I’m headed to SXSW tomorrow, so this music blog will go dark for the better part of the week, but expect daily updates on the festival on the site’s SXSW page starting Thursday.

In the meantime, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer some ultra-quick recommendations. The following are worth a spin:

Autechre – “Quaristice”
Autechre’s ninth album lures you in with a gorgeously subdued opener, “Altibzz,” but that track’s heavenly spell soon breaks as the album gives way to over an hour’s worth of nervous, glitchy beats and barely structured ambience. Unsurprisingly, given its length—20 tracks and 73 minures—Quaristice is uneven, but that’s what makes it such a thrill. The dramatic shifts in mood and texture keep you on your toes.

Black Eyes & Neckties – “Apparition!”
I’m always on the lookout for good punk, but judging from how little I’ve found lately, I must be falling asleep at the post. These Portlanders, however, generously dish out everything I’ve been seeking for in spades: biting but tuneful songs, shouted vocals, big hooks, obvious nods to D.C. and, to set them apart, some funeral organ. Black Eyes & Neckties are a horror-punk group, but they’re never grotesque as much as they are morose. Murder scenes abound, but we’re spared the nitty-gritty, severed-artery details.

EMC – “The Show”
The long delayed debut from the underground rap supergroup of Masta Ace, Punchline, Wordsworth and Milwaukee’s diamond Stricklin is a logical extension of Masta Ace’s late career albums, but even better—unashamed red meat for the backpackers who believe hip-hop begins at DJ Premier and Pete Rock and ends at 9th Wonder. I haven’t heard a better rap single this year than “Leak It Out.”

Los Campesinos! – “Hold On Now, Youngster…”
Los Campesinos! don’t need any more blogger endorsements: They’re already well on their way to becoming one of this year’s breakout bands, so it’s arguably in their interest to avoid Vampire Weekend-levels of overexposure. I’ll join their chorus of supporters anyway. I love this album—not just because it’s one of the most vital, hyper indie-punk records released since Dismemberment Plan grew up then broke up; but because it captures that fleeting, youthful concupiscence most bands outgrow by the time they cut a professional record. Even on the songs that aren’t about romance and sexual desire—and their aren’t many of them—there’s so much pining in these worked-up boy/girl vocals that the group can barely contain themselves. Hold On Now, Youngster… is the sound of youths in heat, pretending to party when all they’re really looking for is a chance to rub up against each other.


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