Formed in Washington, D.C. in 2001, Dischord's post-punk outfit Black Eyes follows in the footsteps of labelmates Q and Not U and Fugazi as well as bands like Girls Against Boys.
The elusive group (first names only for this band), who put out their self-titled debut in 2003, consists of two bassists, two drummers, only one guitar and seriously caterwauling vocals. The instrumental line-up makes for a rhythmic and driving sound akin to the Liars while the lyrics explore darkness and violence in a poignant but oblique rock poetry. The band returned in 2004 with Cough.
Washington, DC's Black Eyes broke up shortly before the release of their second album, and that album, 2004's Cough, has the anarchic vibe of a band that knows they're about to self-destruct and not only doesn't care, but revels in the imminent collapse. If contemporaries like Q and Not U, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars and !!! are really the rebirth of the New York post-punk art /dance scene of the early '80s, Black Eyes were the scene's equivalent to first-generation noise fiends like Mars or Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, mixed with the literally anarchic politics of the Crass collective or the Ex. Most of these 11 songs consist of drums (two sets), bass (two of those, too) and chanted/shrieked group vocals, overlaid with a horn section that sounds like they drifted in from an entirely different session. Near-atonal squonks and peals in the '60s free jazz traditions overlay the songs, and their deliberate clashing with the rest of the soundfield is undoubtedly the point. The startlingly good "Drums" is the album's highest point, the one song on which the band pick a single groove and focus on building and developing it into a powerful, unified musical statement. Too much of the rest of Cough is the sound of a band enjoying the sound of tearing themselves apart.