2-Song CD/EP



This is Q & Not U's first recorded material in a year and, frankly, it's a total revelation. Pared down to a trio, the DC-based, political art-punk band's live shows in the past year have been sharpened and more experimental, yet still hinged on supple falsetto vocals and jutting guitars. This EP reflects that in two songs--"X-Polynation" (which evolves from a rhythm-centric hook into a driving, Jenga-like collapse of piano) and "Book of Flags" (a heart-melting chorus of Oingo Boingo-style guitars combined with palpable agitation). Both tracks surpass the quality from most of the material from 2002's Different Damage. Dischord, of course, has long been the flagstone label for high-standard punk rock--but it must be reiterated that they keep repping for artistic punk, forging new paths not just in ethic, but in aesthetic, as well. JULIANNE SHEPHERD


Goodbye Swingtime



Underground electronica visionary Matthew Herbert's previous house mutations have been composed under a stringent set of rules he's dubbed PCCOM (Personal Contract for the Composition of Music), and his big-band musings on Goodbye Swingtime fall in line. Horns molded in the sampler take on alternately antique and surreal identities; drums and piano tango in ferociously angular modes, and rhythms are built from Noam Chomsky samples. But methods alone don't make a great album and, with lesser knob-twiddlers, lead to an hour of repetitive, gimmicky schtick. Goodbye Swingtime's narrative draws from the best of Herbert's past collaborations (with vocalists Dani Siciliano and Jamie Lidell) and, moreover, leaves plenty of room for the Big Band to do its thing. Cinematic, melancholy, and with deep grains of originality--here, Herbert may be reaching his creative apex (or at least getting markedly closer). ELLIOTT ADAMS




Rumbling with a boomy fuzz like a third-generation cassette bootleg, Semiautomatic's Ropstyle, Akiko Carver, and Orbit (AKA the breakdancing wonderdog) have always made conceptual, dancey art music, largely reliant upon Rop's instrument-altering skills. On their second full-length--with its distant, gated guitar; papery drum machine beats; and Akiko's operatic noir vocal delivery--they approach the sound of a performance-art project circa 1988. It works best on two minimally gritty dancehall numbers featuring Slits-diva-turned-dancehall-princess Ari Up on guest vocals. "Stushpuss" is an incredible dis track, with Ari singing, "what a man woan from you/me havefe wonde fe true/stush puss coll yah stush puss." Akiko's mocking coos in the distance are beautiful and strange, and the recording aesthetic lends it an archival feel, like you checked it out from the library. JS

**** Bear Claw

*** French Cruller

** Apple Fritter

* Maple Bar