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In a Cave

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Album Review

The assumption that is sometimes unfairly made of the Dischord label is that it is a repository for documenting the hardcore scene in Washington, D.C., and nothing more. However, a careful observation of its catalog would yield a wide variety of sonic experiments and textures that are on par with even the most heralded of indie post-rock imprints. The latest in a long series documenting a small circle of artist's careers in Washington, D.C., focuses on two groups comprised of two people. One-half of this puzzle is label co-founder Ian MacKaye and his Evens project, and the second-half is Jerry Busher and Jimmy Canty pairing under the guise French Toast. A far cry from the post-rock manifestos of Fugazi (Busher is the second percussionist during the group's live shows) and go-go blitzkrieg of Canty's the Nation of Ulysses/the Make-Up's funk-punk explosion projects, French Toast is a somber and electronically dominated project that nods in reverence to such other heralded D.C. projects as Happy Go Licky and more recently Dismemberment Plan. But what sets French Toast apart from these other groups is the level of restraint and maturity the duo display throughout the album's 12 songs. Sounding like it could have been easily conceived in the confines of John McEntire's Soma Studios, the duo works its anger and issues out until hitting the full, definitive stride of "Lion's Den" and "Seen Me," which wouldn't seem out of place on the finest of Pixies' recordings. The duo is versatile and moves easily from one texture to the next until the final and haunting moments of the album's closer, "Nobody Knows," a sparse piano-fronted composition whose weight is only intensified by the lingering silence in between notes. The final lyrics quite grimly state "there's no way to go but down," but In a Cave proves quite the opposite; it's an impressive debut with plenty to offer even the most stodgy of indie rock purists who still hold firm to the absurd notion that Dischord is hardcore punk and nothing else.


Formed: 2001 in Washington DC

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

French Toast formed in 2001 around James Canty and Jerry Busher, a duo whose separate careers are rooted in the highly regarded Washington, D.C., punk scene. Canty had been a member of the Nation of Ulysses, Cupid Car Club, and the Make-Up, while Busher had logged time with bands like Fidelity Jones and las Mordidas, in addition to playing with Fugazi and Ted Leo. Busher was also a part of the D.C. post-punk all-star group the All Scars, featuring members of Fugazi, Beefeater, and more, and when...
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In a Cave, French Toast
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