• 9353
  • To Whom It May Consume (R + B) 1984 
  • We Are Absolutely Sure There Is No God (Fountain of Youth) 1985 

With hardcore just as stagnant in Washington DC as it was everywhere else in 1984, the appearance of 9353 came as quite a jolt. Although the band wasn’t first-rate — Jason Carmer’s delay-driven guitar serves as only a decorative ornament, and the rhythm section is rarely more than competent — To Whom It May Consume is surprisingly good, psychotic punk psychedelia (with a twist of good-humored evil) highlighted by Bruce Merkle’s astounding vocal range, which can shift from a deep drawl to a convincing Ethel Merman warble in a flash.

We Are Absolutely Sure There Is No God was released at the end of 1985, after the short-lived band’s breakup. Merkle continues to display his bag of tricks, never once treating any of his many voices with seriousness or respect. The album does not contain as many memorable songs as the first, but try “American Schizo,” “Evil Teen Facility Yard” and “Who Does What and Why.”

[Ian McCaleb]