For your iPod’s consideration
By Eric Saeger
Diplo, Blow Your Head- Diplo Presents: Dubstep (Downtown Records)
Not every U.K. trend turns into the Beatles. Most of you (i.e., those of you who make no effort whatsoever to trend-check your head, meaning 99% of New Hampshire, and that’s actually a good score in comparison to nearly all the states) noticed this guy on the Blackberry commercial and wondered who the hell he is. Short answer: a Philly-based remix-o-matic whose fame springs from his being one of those way-important “producer” guys who help major acts disappear further into their own fame. Case in point, M.I.A., with whom this guy had a falling out (possibly romantic-break-up-related), in the wake of his work on /\/\/\Y/\. It was an album that spent time as a piñata for critics; not that that means you have any reason to hate it. The biggest news about this flow-less glorified mixtape is the fact that Diplo has the temerity to lay claim in such a titular manner to the genre, which, along with its cousin, drum ‘n bass, has been the Fight Club of music for a while now. Burial actually “owns it,” in my opinion, but this album will give you a good-enough idea about its current (tedious Justice/R&B-hop-oriented) state, from the Lil John nastiness of Diplo’s own “U Don’t Like Me” (if an NFL free safety could rap, this is what he’d say) to the Mario Brothers tech-glitch of Joker & Ginz’s “Re-Up.” Or just forget you even read this, it’s your nickel.
Grade: B [street date: 11/2/10]
Alter Bridge, AB III (Alter Bridge/EMI)
A giant door swings open, and a 350-pound hulk of steer-beef swathed in a cloud of smoke appears. It’s on! Rassle! These are the images I have to banish from consciousness when dealing with this latest (guess how many they’ve done so far!) LP from ¾ of Creed hooked up with Slash’s singer, a band whose fame has mostly come from WWE intro songs, for rasslin’. This just came in today, deadline day, and I’d love to make more WWE jokes to fill this space, but since they did go to the trouble of writing a generous 16 songs and there are, seriously, a few people reading this who actually like this stuff, I’ll go on record as saying that it’s not completely unbearable for a half-cocked crock of nu-hard-rock. You know the deal – for the most part it’s overproduced, often too poppy claptrap – it’s like listening to a musical about two suburban teens arguing over whether Whitesnake is better than Slipknot. I mean, there are seriously times when this record appears set to break into a chorus of Heart’s “Alone” just to put a little spice into the obbligato ballad.
Grade: B [Release Date: 11/9/10]
Afrocubism, Afrocubism (Nonesuch Records)
It’s been 14 years since the accidental birth of the world-music Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club, a Cuban folk/salsa project originally intended as a meeting of musical minds between the BVSC Cubans and a group of elites from the African country of Mali, but which fell apart when the Malians’ travel plans unraveled. This coalition army of musicians, then, has had well over a decade to think about what they’d do as a unit, but in the main, it’s what you might expect -African polyrhythms and instrumentation tightly woven into salsa and other Cuban sounds. Although the singing voices representing both cultures sound closely related, the inclusion of balafon (a xylophone-like West African instrument) is one thing that makes the stuff very different from BVSC. In one departure, “Karamo” comes off as new-age Mariachi, but everything here is undeniably unique, from the somber, mournful, sitar-like kora passages in “Al vaiven de mi carreta,” to the balafon-swamped fractal guitar of “Djelimady Rumba,” all culminating in the relaxed and celebratory “Para los Pinaresse va Montoro.”
Grade: A [Release Date: 11/2/10]
Nitzer Ebb, Industrial Complex (Artists Addiction Records)
The first proper LP in a decade from this British EBM crew was mostly brought on by a resurgence in interest in their 130-bpm oldies, most likely none of which you’ve ever heard unless you’re an old-school raver, or “soccer parent” as they’re called nowadays. Formed in 1982 as mutual Bauhaus worshippers, they quickly evolved into a harder-than-Depeche-Mode dance act, pushing their EBM experiments to moderately heavy levels, and then it was on to more experimental jazzy stuff, but hold everything, because we’re right back in 1987 as far as this record’s concerned, beginning with “Promises,” a mid-fast stomper that, although it eschews Throbbing Gristle shouts, could have been the B-side to their ’87 Mute Records hit “Join in the Chant.” Basically this is hardfloor-inflected dance, stuff that wouldn’t last 10 seconds in the ring with Skinny Puppy but which would be a revelation to folks who want something heavier than Depeche Mode; it far surpasses the efforts of the band’s legion of wannabes while expertly avoiding the usual pitfalls of kraut-tech.
Grade: A- [street date: 11/9/10]
Outraged ranting, indie label release news and spaghetti sauce recipes are always welcome. Email.
Reach DCP freelance writer Eric W. Saeger at email@example.com