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Medications

Dischord

Most Dischord bands are born, but some are made. The label has long released the music of a small cluster of Ward 3 natives for whom craggy, surging, barely melodic posthardcore seems to come as a birthright. Medications represent the smaller category of Dischord acts: Singer/guitarist Devin Ocampo has been around for a while, but he’s had to sweat his way to a style that came naturally to, say, the Warmers. Ocampo was previously a member of Smart Went Crazy and Faraquet, both of which recorded for the label but resembled Fugazi or Ignition about as much as the High Back Chairs. His latest band, which also includes former Faraquet drummer (and Washington City Paper staffer) Chad Molter (now on bass), is his most Dischordian so far, at least in spirit. On debut long-player Your Favorite People All in One Place, Medications are clamorous and direct, with fewer of the fussy change-ups that characterized Ocampo’s previous endeavors. Rendered with a minimum of sweetening by producer (and Dischord lifer) Brendan Canty, the album tacks confidently between D.C.-style postpunk and the new (which is to say, old) rawk. “Twine Time” is a bracing example: a singsongy tune, delivered earnest and raw atop looping guitar figures and Andrew Becker’s breakneck drum rolls, with just a touch of dub in the bass. Yet the song’s bigger gestures approach arena rock, as does the way Ocampo holds the final syllables of such kiss-offs as “I don’t see iiiiit.” (That’s another authentic Dischord touch: Lyrics that are vague but vehement.) Medications show the indie rocker’s customary distrust of the pop hook, but some of these songs do include pretty passages and Molter’s vocal counterpoint occasionally bolstering the melodies, notably during the near-jangly “Pills” and “This Is the Part We Laugh About,” which in places is almost a canon. And although Your Favorite People’s 10 tracks are almost all longish, the feedback fanfares and heavy-rock flourishes don’t roar on toward infinity, often yielding quickly to a contrasting mode or timbre. The result sidesteps mass appeal while remaining surprisingly accessible. The album even ends with a 7-minute-long power ballad, “Occupied”—although in this case that means a folky sorta-lullaby jostled by intermittently raucous accompaniment. Medications have a bunch of crafty ideas, but their backup position is always noise.—Mark Jenkins