Q AND NOT U

"Different Damage"

Dischord Among the many styles of dance music is one called "Miami bass." Q and Not U's music is located farther north, both in geography and timbre -- you could call it "Washington treble." The D.C. trio actually did shed its bassist between its first album, "No Kill No Beep Beep," and the equally impressive (and not entirely bass-less) "Different Damage." That hasn't dramatically altered the band's sound, however. While jazzy new songs like "Snow Patterns" are a bit more abstract than their predecessors, they continue the group's research into sharp, staccato tones.

Like most latter-day Dischord bands, Q and Not U have retained some aspects of hardcore punk; its songs are brief, astringent and sometimes bristling. Yet from the contrapuntal vocals of "Meet Me in the Pocket" to the submerged harmonies of "No Damage Nocturne," the trio's music is as playful as it is stark. Even the fiercely funk-punkish "Black Plastic Bags" has a streak of whimsy, ending with the proclamation that "every town gets an Eiffel Tower / Don't worry." If that maxim is characteristically inscrutable, the entire album illustrates the decree of "Recreation's Myth": "Hands up / Give in to modernism."

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Saturday at the Black Cat with the Mercury Program and Ink. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Q and Not U, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8108. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)