We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Standout Track: No. 3, the haunting “Libertina,” a sprawling, desolate, unforgiving landscape. At eight-plus minutes, it’s longer than the other two songs on Phonic Riot’s new demo cassette combined, ebbing and flowing in a dark, foggy haze. Why so long? “I had a lot that I wanted to say,” says vocalist and guitarist Angela Morrish, 27, of Alexandria.

Musical Motivation: Morrish first played with Petworth drummer Nathan Jurgenson, 28, last January, but they’ve only become serious in the last six months. Having only two members doesn’t necessarily simplify things. “Sometimes it can be difficult because you have two very strong opinions and no one to mediate,” says Morrish. “But that’s how you learn to work together, and in the end it gives the songs room to breathe. We like to keep things as stripped down and simple as possible.” The meat of the songwriting comes from Morrish but, she says, “Nathan adds the structure, and in a way he plays the drums like a guitar.”

Cold Comfort: It’s hard to make out the words in “Libertina.” According to Morrish, “the lyrics reference the Adrienne Rich poem ‘Diving Into the Wreck,’ but I was also studying multiple feminine archetypes at that time so a lot is woven in.” Morrish didn’t want to get too specific about the meaning behind the work, she offered some insight into her process. “I wrote the lyrics in ’09 while surviving this godawful Chicago winter,” she says. “The rest eventually came while picking at an acoustic.” She approaches songwriting the way most honest writers do: “I experience interpersonal things and find ways to incorporate them with other things that inspire me. Boys piss me off. I write them in.”