Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
The Los Angeles quartet Stanford Prison Experiment takes its name from a sociological experiment (conducted at Stanford University in the ’70s) in which student volunteers assigned roles as “guards” were given, and ultimately abused, power over those assigned roles as “prisoners.” The experiment, which ostensibly proves that everyone has the capacity for sadism, also makes for a baggage-laden band name. But it’s as effective a shorthand as any for SPE’s disaffection. In “What’s an Epidemic,” lead singer Mario Jimenez wails, “That’s the way it’s gonna be/Even if I win, you want a piece of it.” Sometimes called “alterna-metal,” SPE’s sound evokes fellow Angelenos the Minutemen (the disc features a ‘men cover dedicated to that band’s late guitarist, D. Boon), but its melodic riffs indicate that, like most other American indie rockers, the foursome has spent plenty of time listening to R.E.M.