DC Special album cover
DC Special



Newly released as of November 2023, D.C. Special is more than just the first Scream album in three decades. Co-produced by Ian MacKaye, packed with guests from all across the label’s storied roster and recorded by Don Zientara in one of the last sessions ever at the longtime location of his Inner Ear Studio, it feels something like an audio episode of Dischord: This Is Your Life. The lineup heard here — vocalist Pete Stahl, his guitarist brother Franz, bassist Skeeter Thompson and drummer Kent Stax, who sadly died of cancer two months before the album’s release — is the same one that appeared exactly 40 years ago on Dischord No. 9, the band’s amped-up debut, Still Screaming. D.C. Special shows off Scream’s knack for both high-speed hardcore shimmy (“Hel Nah”) as well as the more laid-back melodic side of their sound featured on 1993’s underrated Fumble (“Lifeline Redux”). They also try their hand at heartfelt acoustic folk (“Last of the Soft”) and buoyant reggae (“Tum Tum,” which features guest percussion from ex-Scream-er Dave Grohl, who did a stint with the group in his pre-Nirvana years). Also turning up on various tracks are Fugazi and Messthetics bassist Joe Lally; Amy Pickering, who sang in late-’80s Dischord outfit Fire Party and also coined the term Revolution Summer during her time working at the label; and Jerry Busher, an auxiliary Fugazi member who played in Dischord acts Fidelity Jones, French Toast and Death Fix, and took over live drum duties for Scream following Stax’s passing. There’s a lot going on here, but this isn’t the sprawling hodgepodge it might sound like on paper; instead it comes off as a rousing, bighearted celebration of the solidarity of this tight-knit punk-rock family.

Hank Shteamer

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