This makes me sick! (Well, the sick feeling probably comes from the dizzying bout of Neuritis I’ve been battling for the past week. Makes typing a bit tedious.) Peeved may be a better word. Either way, I can’t believe I let 2008 lapse without mentioning my favorite EP to come our way at the end of the year. Chicago’s Loyal Divide is at once cold and earthy, shoe-gazey and trip hop, Nine Inch Nails and Autolux, Laurie Anderson and Portishead. Your not so typical post-industrial-shoe-goth if you don’t mind me taking such liberties. “Labrador” is tethered to time as the track unwinds into a chugging locomotive pace, driven by Can’s tribal basslines, until ethereal vocals hauntingly give way to a languid narrative about a dog with “blackest eyes and softest mouth / she buried her bones behind the house / she grabbed a bird trying to steal my food / she squeezed its head until it cooed.” The vocals float along through punchy bass-lines and electronic tickings and tweets as everything but the bassline drop out, then rush back in. The Loyal Divide creates the most compellingly textured music I’ve heard from a new artist in some time.