Said it before and I'll say it again: D.C., despite all of its history, just isn't a rock town anymore. Various dance parties are taking over prime nights at local music venues -- though maybe that's because bands would rather play Philly and New York on the weekend -- and dance rock bands are abundant. But The Mostly Dead is one of the local bands moving hardcore punk forward despite that.
Just more than a year old, the band has a couple of 7 inches -- "Slightly" and "Alive" -- that confirm their live performances. The shows have been blistering and brief and ear-splitting, and the records have it all, but with production that lets the nuances out. While the head on this entry refers to DC hardcore, this band's more San Diego than D.C., with rock 'n' roll roots disguised under buzzsaw guitars and relentless, pedal-to-the-floor rhythms.
"Slightly" starts with a call-to-arms riff -- hard rock played faster, that ol' San Diego punk effect -- but "Culture Dog" quickly turns toward L.A. punk. And prematurely ends just as quickly, in under a minute. But that's how these songs are, short and razor sharp, all in the 1-2 minute range.
One thing that comes out cleaner on the recording is the vocals, and it seems the underlying theme of "Slightly" is that The Mostly Dead tired of BS. "I want the truth on the radio. Why can't we play the truth?" "Culture Dog" asks. Next, "Part of the Problem" posits that you are one unless you're looking for solutions. "Come Clean," like its name suggests and with a stoner metal worthy intro, asks you to confess your lies while "You Mean That?" goes a step further and just pleads for you to say something true. The third track, "Lost in Space," begs you to shut your mouth and comes back to the melodic hyper hard rock of the record's opening riff -- melody being another nuance easier to spot in the studio. A hardcore assault gives way to an anthemic quality worthy of street punk. Closing the record, the menacing "Eville" is more akin to hardcore metal than hardcore punk -- another Mostly Dead wrinkle.
"Alive" is a much more violent and hardcore 7 inch. Instead of a call to arms, the record jumps right at you, sans buffer, and quickly drops images of destruction and want. That track, "Stutter," has the start-stop dynamic you'd expect behind verses begging for adrenaline. Targeting war, "One Piece Construct" may be the angriest song The Mostly Dead has released. "You Suck at Interventions" approaches that fury but infuses the angry wit the title suggests, saying if you're going to confront, say something that means something. "Keep talking, keep talking, keep talking, what the f*** man?"
The Mostly Dead bring hardcore back to D.C. at DC9 Thursday night with help from street-punk forefathers The Business, Chicago's celtic punks Flatfoot 56 and the Reticents.