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When Ernest Hemingway wrote his famous six-word micro-fiction—“For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”—it’s likely he didn’t anticipate that his bar-bet brevity would transfer so perfectly to music. The Art Department, a three-man band from Baltimore, is the postcard literature of house-party punk. Each song is insistently short with a clear message: It’s not necessary to blather on to tell a good story. The group’s high-speed fingerpicking and polyrhythmic drumbeats establish a steady momentum, while the almost-harmonized vocals of drummer Mike Meno and guitarist Jon Ehrens float above the smoke-long songs. Dusted with tambourine and condensed, flash-fiction nerditry, The Art Department’s sets kick into gear suddenly and end just as fast. The boys grab your attention with the first note, slide you into the chorus, and, before you realize it’s happening, drop you off at the music’s inevitable, eccentric conclusion.

THE ART DEPARTMENT PERFORMS WITH AU AT 9 P.M. AT THE VELVET LOUNGE, 915 U ST NW. [PRICE TK] (202) 463-3213.