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Emergency & I

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Album Review

The band's third full album is a firecracker, showing their at once passionate and sly approach to music — take in everything, put it back out, and give it its own particular sheen and spin — is in no danger of letting up. Knowing fans of the quartet have spoken on how it's clear that the bandmembers listen to everything from old soul to hip-hop and techno and back again, and there's no argument here based on the evidence of this disc. Travis Morrison's unusual vocals make a brilliant calling card for the band, high, a touch quavery, but never out of control, slipping into the mix like another instrument. Though the comparisons to fellow D.C. musical figure Craig Wedren are understandable, Morrison's voice isn't as piercing, with a warm, light undertow that's quite affecting. When he hits his best moments, like the downright anthemic but never breast-beating "What Do You Want Me to Say?," it's a wonder more people aren't talking about the guy. The rest of the band turn the indie rock stereotype on its head, avoiding aimless shambling jangle or emo's straightjacketing stereotype in favor of an unsettled mix that embraces sampling's jump-cut techniques and shifting rhythms where prominence is equally given to guitar, keyboards, and beat. It can be late-night jazzy mood-out or sudden thrash, but the quartet handles all approaches with aplomb and creative arrangements to boot. Drummer Joe Easley may be the band's secret weapon, able to keep the pace and swing just enough, though bassist Eric Axelson is by no means a slouch himself — the dub-touched "Spider in the Snow" is a great showcase for both. The fact that "You Are Invited" is conceivably the world's greatest synth-pop/electro/guitar chime/post-punk song about trying to get to the right party — and is emotional without being overwrought — gives a sense as to this album's considerable strengths.

Customer Reviews

One of the top rock albums of the 90s and all time

The Dismemberment Plan were easily one of the best and most interesting bands of our time. Though they disbanded after 2001's Change, their power can easily be seen in Emergency and I. Tracks like the blistering Gyroscope, fist-pumping What Do You Want Me to Say?, depressed Spider in the Snow, raving Girl O'Clock, and chill, reflective Back and Forth all raise the Plan into the upper echelon of rock. I could describe each track in detail (and have actually written an essay on Back and Forth, a song I consider to be one of the best ever recorded) but that would take more than my allotted space. Suffice to say, that Travis Morrison, Eric Axelson, and Joe Easley have won me over and deserve countless more fans than they currently have. Don't pass this one up.

Best CD I've ever purchased (though I did not buy it here)

If I was stranded on a island and could only bring one CD, this would be it. Its not for everyone, but its definitely for me.

holy moley

I miss the dismemberment plan. I was lucky enough to get the chance to see this band play 4 times in Chicago. I was on the stage with them on their last ever performance at the Metro and boy howdy was it great. Eric (bass/keys) is one of the nicest guys ever. Emergency & I is one heck of a solid recording showing the range these guys are capable of. From the insanity of "Gyroscope" and "8 1/2 Minutes" to the quiet build of "You are Invited" and "Spider in the Snow". This is a great place to start if you are not familiar with the Dismemberment Plan.


Formed: January 1, 1993 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Washington, D.C.-based emo quartet the Dismemberment Plan -- frontman Travis Morrison, guitarist Jason Caddell, bassist Eric Axelson, and drummer Joe Easley -- debuted in 1994 with the single "Can We Be Mature?," signing to DeSoto to release the full-length ! in the fall of 1995. The Dismemberment Plan Is Terrified followed a year and a half later, and after releasing 1998's The Ice of Boston EP on major-label Interscope, the group returned to DeSoto for 1999's Emergency & I. In early 2001, the Dismemberment...
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