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Seven-inch records may be the only way to judge the true activity of a music scene, but they can also be misleading: Just because a band releases a single doesn’t mean the group plays out anywhere, especially since D.C. has such a tiny small-club scene. But despite the lack of show space and the continued struggle for existence by the independent stores that stock vinyl, a flood of singles keeps cracking the dam of marketplace indifference. Here’s a sampling of the recent deluge:

“The Guns of Meridian Hill”/”It’s Alright, You’re O.K.” might be the last gasp of the purely Old Blighty sound from Chisel, whose imminent new album reportedly features a range of styles wider than the band’s normally mod-ified pop. “Guns” is one of the band’s heavier recordings, and coupled with Ted Leo’s increasingly soulful vocals, the song’s a Small Faces homage that could make Steve Marriott eat humble pie. “It’s Alright” is a more typical Chisel number, darting and stuttering around the verses before an old-school organ washes in at the rousing chorus. (Gern Blandsten, P.O. Box 356, River Edge, NJ 07661)

Shiny Brites is a band that includes Read the Fucking Manual ‘zine-boy Robert Thornton. The quartet’s debut release, “Spooky River, Parts 1 & 2,” is a droney mixture of Flipper’s repetitive squall and no-wave’s theatrical noise, recorded in no discernible fi (hi- or lo-) whatsoever. It’s mildly appealing, but unfortunately the Brites don’t have the likes of either Bruce Lose or Will Shatter reciting poetry such as “Up your ass, 2, 3, 4” or “She’s a sex bomb my baby—yeah!” over the din. (Good Records, P.O. Box 10254, Rockville, MD 20849)

“Songs from the Letsrain Lounge: Love-Seat Listening Series #1” is a split single between teen sensations Jenhitt and Jenny Toomey’s newest disguise, So Low. The label it’s on, Fraidycat, is run by Matt Letsinger and Jonah Rainey, who also run the Letsrain studios, where these tracks were recorded. But Jenhitt, whose live show is a giddy display of bubblegum-punk spunk, suffers from a thin and uneven mix on “Stare Cased” and “Clasp.” Letsrain does a better job on So Low’s “Breezewood, PA,” a clean, crispy, Liquoricelike tune that weds Toomey’s witty wordplay with whimsical instrumentation supplied by the Letsrain All-Asterisks. (Fraidycat Records, P.O. Box 5701, Arlington, VA 22205)

Leka’s Drown EP invokes Live Skull on “Beings Like You,” the dark side of New Zealand-style rock on “Poppy Seed,” and a mixture of the two on the title track. Since the quartet is short on melodies and long on edgy, angular compositions, Leka could easily choke on those decaying post-punk staples. Luckily, when the music gets extra shifty, vocalists Derek Cornell and Andrea Panico ground the songs, yet still manage to keep the proceedings requisitely spooky. (Rocker! Supernova Records, P.O. Box 149, Arlington, VA 22210)

While longtime locals may wince at the mention of emocore, Sweetbelly Freakdown is ideologically closer to Embrace and Swiz (whose Shawn Brown handles vocals here) than to Richard Roundtree, or whoever the group’s name is supposed to invoke. On the band’s debut single, “The Long Haul”/”MCR,” Brown’s lyrics include such straightforward declarations as “I’ll go anywhere with you/I’ll do anything with you/You are my rock/You are my anchor/I still pinch myself.” But musically, the tunes are 6,000 Dag Nasty records away from emo; with Bluetip’s Jason Farrell on guitar, the tracks are more lurching boogie punk than from-the-gut emo melodicism. (Then again, Dag Nasty was boogie punk at the end.) (Jade Tree, 2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810)

And from the gone but not forgotten department:

If Juniper hadn’t recently moved, a cage match between Jenhitt, Coach Johnson, and these San Franciscan transplants would be the only way to determine who would don the Velocity Girl tiara. “Making Gerard Smile” and “Supercat” are both V.G. at its fastest and noisiest, though more than a hint of the Ropers’ speedy strumming seeps into the mix—not to mention the record sleeve, which not only employs the same design/design company as the now-defunct Ropers, but a color scheme nearly identical to the band’s last single. (Orange Peel, 11216 Bedfordshire Ave., Potomac, MD 20854-2003)

Former Eggs-head Andrew Beaujon debuts his new project—himself—from his New York digs. “Marylebone Station” recalls the jangly pop of old Beaujon, but rather than scramble the results into an omelet of archness with sound-effected squeaks, here Beaujon uses sequencer and keyboard for orchestral coloring. Beaujon’s Alex-Chilton-cum-Dylan-imitator vocals still require some forbearance, however. The B-side is a synth-pop cover of Tindersticks’ “Feeling Relatively Good.” (Happy Go Lucky, P.O. Box 44342, Cleveland, OH 44144)

If you don’t feel like licking stamps for these releases, both Vinyl Ink and Yesterday and Today do a good job of keeping them in stock.CP