Ask veterans of Dischord Records, and they’ll tell you that 1985 was their Summer of Love. It was the “Revolution Summer,” when strands of D.C.’s punk scene cohered into the forward-thinking, inward-looking sound—epitomized by Embrace, Rites of Spring, and others—by which the label made its bones. A pedant might say it was the moment when hardcore became post-hardcore.
One of the Dischord bands active that summer was Gray Matter, who reunited last year at the Black Cat’s 15th anniversary show, and whose furious, tortured punk rock often made room for caterwauling guitar solos and lengthy, psychedelic freak-outs—like the one that concludes the quartet’s 1985 Take it Back EP, ending abruptly with a crash of breaking glass.
Dischord has reissued that EP and the 1984 Food for Thought album on LP and in MP3, and at 8 p.m. tonight, you can buy both records at a free listening party in the Red Room bar at the Black Cat. Drummer Dante Ferrando—the club’s owner—and singer and guitarist Geoff Turner will be there, spinning both records as well as some of their favorite tunes by D.C. bands. (If you played in one of those groups, Ferrando says he’ll buy you a drink.) Collectors take note: The Take It Back reissue also includes every track from Gray Matter’s 1991 4 Songs double seven-inch, which is out of print. However, the group’s six-minute cover of “I Am the Walrus,” which was included on the 1990 CD compilation of Food for Thought and Take it Back, seems to be sadly absent.
And don’t forget! Dischord has rescued Jawbox’s stunning For Your Own Special Sweetheart from the bowels of Atlantic Records, and that reissue is also in stores today. Jawbox performs on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Dec. 8.