Ian MacKaye has been around Washington DC longer than most congresspeople. The Dischord Records co-founder has been part of two of the most celebrated groups ever to come out of the area, Minor Threat and Fugazi, and now tours with The Evens, his partnership with Amy Farina. Apart from his music and a successful label, MacKaye acts as an archivist, working with others to collect live concert material of Fugazi.
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“Watch the Corners”
When punk hit in the 1970s, it was popular to call the prog rockers and stadium-filling FM-radio vets “dinosaurs” for their size and presumed extinction. That only made it more fun for J. Mascis and his pals to dub their thunderously loud Amherst, Massachusetts, trio Dinosaur in the mid-’80s (it added the Jr. on its second album) to confuse things a bit more.
The band dealt in volume and aggression learned in hardcore act Deep Wound, but guitarist Mascis’s laconic and numb musings and bassist Lou Barlow’s emotional wail were another planet removed from typical punk spit and anger, and Mascis’s graceful, dense guitar solos showed more than a passing knowledge of classic-rock chops. The band has always been a unique balance of aggression and cuddle — snot and bedroom blues — and few of today’s indie rockers ever think to combine both.
After five years of relative inertia, Pig Destroyer — flaring up like an incurable Amazonian virus — is back on the books with Book Burner, a 19-track installation of furious, “misanthropic” grindcore that is as violent as it is relentless. Recorded at guitarist Scott Hull’s Visceral Sound Studios, the album hearkens back to Prowler in the Yard with a raw, live sound that waylays studio artifice for aggression.
Each Tuesday, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.
This week, we spoke with Neal Becton, owner of Som Records in Washington, DC. The small, well-curated record store is a staple in the DC community, and Becton is the force behind a number of events like the annual DC Record Fair and the monthly Brazilian Rhythms party. Having made three trips to Brazil primarily for the purpose of digging crates, there’s no question that Becton is committed to his craft, and Som’s diverse selection reflects his unequaled passion for music.
What can someone expect when visiting Som for the first time?
A small but tight shop with the best selection of used vinyl in DC. Being fairly small forces me to curate instead of just throwing everything out in the bins. I dig for records four to five days a week, so there’s always new stuff in here. I do sell new releases and touch a few genres that the other local stores don’t touch.