The second annual “Plea for Peace: Take Action” tour, which benefits National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE, features different lineups on different legs of the trek. The D.C. show is headlined by Thursday, which is apt, since the New Jersey quintet derives its anguished post-hardcore sound – which one wag has dubbed “screamo” – from such D.C. trailblazers as Rites of Spring.
If anything, Thursday’s “Full Collapse” is even more morbidly sensitive than the work of its inspirations. “I think it’s going to rain, rain down/ Here in this collapsed lung of a borough,” muses singer Geoff Rickly midway through “Paris in Flames,” a song that’s typical of the band’s imagery and outlook. Yet Thursday tempers its woeful pronouncements with canny arrangements and melodic counterpoint. Rickly’s howls can be grating, but they’re usually offset by more tuneful vocals, and Steve Pedulla and Tom Keely’s guitars balance aggression and lyricism. “Full Collapse” may sound a little too much like death-metal, but the band does shine a little musical light on its dark-night-of-the-soul plaints.
After the short-lived but influential Operation Ivy split in 1989, two of its members formed Rancid. Singer Jesse Michaels, however, didn’t make music publicly for a decade. Now he’s recording under the name Common Rider, using a permanent rhythm section and various guest musicians. Not too surprisingly, the 12 songs on the semi-band’s “This Is Unity Music” resemble Rancid’s Clash-struck reggae-punk.
The best of Michaels’s call-to-action rockers transcend their influences, if only through his passion to understand – as “Firewall” puts it – “what has become of the youth of the day/In a culture blind to its own decay.” Musically, some of these songs incongruously recall lighthearted ’80s new wave; “Time Won’t Take Away,” for example, dances dangerously close to the Romantics’ “What I Like About You.” Still, positive-punk directives like “Cool This Madness Down” are as sober as they are rousing.
Hopeline also gets a percentage of the sales of “Plea for Peace: Take Action, Volume 2,” a two-CD set of tracks by 33 punk and speed-metal bands. The set isn’t rigidly divided by style, but the more metallic stuff tends to be on the first disc, while the second features more quasi-folkie semi-acoustic material. With more than two dozen earnest uptempo anthems, the contributions of these mostly little-known (and roughly 99 percent male) bands tend to sound interchangeable, but standouts include Common Rider’s chugging shout-along “Longshot,” The Deal’s engagingly primitive “The Attack” and Yellowcard’s grandly orch-punk “Powder.”