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A Day in Black and White

By: Peter Gaston

Why is change so difficult to come by in our Nation’s Capital? Multiple-term congressmen get old and fat off our tax dollars, dimwitted presidents get re-elected, dynamic legislation remains perpetually stalled. Oh, and the city’s most prominent rock sounds? They haven’t changed too much in 20 years, either, but for D.C.-based quartet A Day in Black and White, that’s nothing to protest. On Notes, their second full-length and first for Level-Plane, the band employs the skittish, stop-start tactics of D.C. forebears like Fugazi and Jawbox, but tempers them with a stylized tweak or two that help firmly plant this set in the here and now.

After a one-minute listen, it’s not a stretch to believe that a track like “New Energy” could have been on a split 7″ with Rites of Spring in 1986. It’s prototypical D.C. post-punk: An intro lined with freaky guitar scales gets rudely interrupted by insistent power chords and Daniel Morse’s whiny, semi-spoken vocals. But a streamlined, piercing solo midway through builds a bridge from D.C. to the more recently developed, English-leaning revivalism of New Yorkers like Interpol. The same trait appears on “Lame Duck,” with another squeaky clean line offsetting the squelchy backdrop. But the reverence to D.C.’s storied past is undeniable, particularly on the meandering, moody “A Literal Title,” which segues carelessly from a pulsing romp to a dazzling slow-build that’s absolutely worth your vote.

Catch A Day in Black in White on Dec. 10 at Boston’s Mass Art.

A Day in Black and White official site