Dark Days Coming

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When most people think Dischord, they recall the early-'80s hardcore days. But Dischord actually peaked later in the decade, when the wildly improved Government Issue and a bunch of new bands formed out of the old ones, all slowed down their tempos to more manageable punk levels, and concentrated on developing melodic hooks, adding dimension to the emotional core of the walloping sound (thus the overused, too blanketed term "emocore"). 3, a 1986-1988 D.C. band formed out of the ashes of Gray Matter (leader Geoff Turner) and Minor Threat (drummer Jeff Nelson) and two others, was the perfect example. A solid band through and through, 3's lone LP, sadly released posthumously (as was the case for far too many Dischord bands of the time) was totally catchy punk, with dollops of obvious sincerity and passion, typically lacking with later punk outfits. Songs with ample hooks such as "International" and the closing "Don't Walk Away" remain as vibrant now on CD as they were when the LP was released on vinyl in 1989. And consistent with the vaunted "value for money" Dischord ethic, this CD doubles the original album's length by tacking on ten previously unissued basement demos, including a rip-roaring punk version of Hank Williams' famed "Your Cheatin' Heart." Eight of the other nine bonus tracks are likely unfinished -- they're instrumentals but probably were intended to have vocals -- but remain hot listening. In fact, these basement tracks sound even more exciting than the actual LP, making one want to write one's own lyrics and melodies and sing along. Such exciting "works in progress" suggest that 3 had far more to give, had they only remained together instead of succumbing to the D.C. disease: untimely demise.

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