Between battling cancer and breaking in a new drummer, it’s been a rough year for D.C.’s favorite Dischord defectors, Shudder to Think. After a harrowing bout with Hodgkin’s disease, Craig Wedren has more than recovered his trademark semioperatic vocals on the new Epic release 50,000 B.C. Picking up where Shudder’s major-label debut (1994’s Pony Express Album) left off, the band has pretty much ditched the time changes that so characterized its earlier records, opting instead for straightforward, concentrated, melodic ballads and power pop. To Wedren’s credit, the lyrics on the opener, “Call of the Playground,” retain his customary crypticism: “Is that a bruise or a kiss?/(Treat me like you oughtta)/Set down your booty, miss/The cream of California speak of this.” Shudder to Think has always been up to par (gratuitous nudity notwithstanding) in a live setting, so expect to fight the crowds when the band appears with Churn at 8:30 p.m. at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $6. (202) 667-7960. (Amy Domingues)