There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Intensity, even sincerity, used to be a Dischord hallmark. The new crop of Dischord bands, however, is taking the label in various new directions, some of them distinctly self-conscious. Branch Manager, for example, is rooted in a ’70s that’s almost entirely different from Fugazi’s. On its new long player, simply called Branch Manager, the Northern Virginia trio adopts a not unPavementlike approach to mainstream Frampton-era fodder: The band fractures its sources on tracks like “Unemployed Ninja,” a funky, echoey recitative, but also sometimes plays them almost straight, notably on “Floored and to the Left,” which is very nearly reincarnated AOR. Like virtually all contemporary alterna-rock hipsters, the Managers toy with cocktail-lounge music (“The Best Sleep Is Behind Me”), while “Gameface” condenses pomp rock (pseudo-operatic vocals, drum and bass solos, maniacal laughter) into four-and-a-half oddball minutes. The band can even do intensity when it feels like it: Though Ron Winters’ metal-stamped vocals are a little histrionic for the genre, “Spirit Boy 2000” is positively punky. Or is it supposed to be glitter rock? As usual, the disc is $8 postpaid from Dischord, 3819 Beecher St. NW, Washington, DC 20007.