Deathfix, Brokeback, Dubpixels, Robin Bell 18+ Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Sun., March 10, 8 p.m. 2013

Let’s get this out of the way up front—guitarist and singer Brendan Canty, who cofounded Deathfix, also spent 15 years as the drummer for Fugazi. It’d be an egregious oversight not to mention that seminal band here, but it’d also be a shame to overemphasize that history—especially since Canty’s role in this new project is so different. On Deathfix’s new self-titled debut (on Dischord, of course) the band’s catchy, accessible rock flirts with plenty of styles outside the classic posthardcore sound canonized in the D.C. punk scene—the same sort of exploration that scene veterans such as Shudder to Think and Q & Not U were doing in the 90s and early aughts. This makes some sense, given that Deathfix drummer Devin Ocampo played in oddball Dischord band Smart Went Crazy, who dabbled brilliantly in hip-hop and 60s prog—and that Deathfix vocalist-keyboardist Rich Morel makes literate dance-pop under the name Morel (as well as DJing a long-running gay club night called Blowoff with Bob Mould). These guys can blend, say, Krautrock or go-go or glam into their straightforward rock—opener “Better Than Bad” even has a doo-wop melody. Deathfix is basically a party record, and its goofy sense of fun is a playful rebuttal to anybody who somehow still thinks punk has to be angry and only use three chords per song. Maybe the best example is “Dali’s House,” whose tongue-in-cheek descriptions of the homes of various icons, musical and otherwise, spoof the stereotypes about them: “I wish I was Che Guevara’s house,” sings Morel. “I’d be all communist and printed on T-shirts everywhere.” —Leor Galil
These days it’s easy to record a couple barely rehearsed tunes and post them to Soundcloud or Bandcamp even before your band has even played a show, but Douglas McCombs is kind of old-fashioned about how he approaches these things. After he put together an all-new lineup for his long-running instrumental project Brokeback in fall 2010, they spent a year writing material and rehearsing, then gigged steadily for six more months before going into Soma Electronic Music Studios with McCombs’s Tortoise bandmate John McEntire at the boards. What started in 1995 as a sparse solo bass experiment (and later became a duo, then a trio) has turned into a four-piece with bassist Pete Croke, drummer Jim Elkington, and second guitarist Chris Hansen (these days McCombs plays either a guitar or a Fender Bass VI), and the group’s patience pays off magnificently on the recent Brokeback and the Black Rock (Thrill Jockey). The new lineup has transformed Brokeback’s existing aesthetic—twangy, atmospheric, and wide open, evoking the American southwest as refracted through Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western scores—into a visceral yet crystalline rock-combo sound that balances the churning intensity of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse with the resonant chill of Tom Verlaine’s late work. The solo piece “Tonight at Eleven,” for Bass VI and haunting ambient field recordings, is lyrical and fragile, while the brief, Italianate “Who Is Bozo Texino?” propels its rich harmonies with an insistent percussive shuffle. The music is expertly played and carefully crafted, with clouds of guitar overtones seeming to billow from every note, but none of that compromises its raw, unrefined vitality. —Peter Margasak Brokeback, Dubpixels, and Robin Bell open.

Price: $10

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