The Silver Spring, Md., band Two Inch Astronaut borrows a great deal from Ian MacKaye’s Dischord Records — everything from Fugazi’s stick-and-rim percussion to the rampant melodicism of Smart Went Crazy to the chording and phrasing of Shudder To Think. But it doesn’t feel like a product of derivativeness so much as a form of folk music: Two Inch Astronaut’s songs sound like traditions being passed down from one generation to the next. D.C. hardcore is, in a sense, the group’s birthright, and its members acquit themselves admirably on their second album, Foulbrood.
Working as a duo — with Sam Rosenberg taking on all the vocals, guitar and bass tracks and drummer Matt Gatwood laying down the rest — Two Inch Astronaut opens Foulbrood with its title track, a plea to maintain positivity in a gruesome world. While Rosenberg maintains hope via dramatic falsetto flourishes and emo screams, the outlook over the next nine songs isn’t altogether rosy. Two Inch Astronaut spends the bulk of Foulbrood lamenting life that has passed (“Cigarettes, Boys, And Movies”), the time we waste bickering with one another (“Part Of Your Scene”), and the grief and trauma that comes with death at an early age (“Dead White Boy”).
This is heavy stuff, and through a striking mix of unpredictable arrangements, effective change-ups and whisper-to-scream dynamics, Two Inch Astronaut sounds both familiar and fresh, employing its D.C. influences to their fullest extent. Foulbrood has the potential to expose younger fans to an entire generation of rock gone by, but never at the expense of conveying the emotions of today.