CURSIVE/EASTERN YOUTH

"8 Teeth to Eat You"

Better Looking/Five One

DAME FATE

"Time and Tide Wait for No Man"

Lovitt

There are many ways to tell if a punk band tends toward the emo side of the genre. A cello player would be one. So would a title like "Excerpts From Various Notes Strewn Around the Bedroom of April Connolly Feb. 24, 1997." Cursive features both among its four contributions to "8 Teeth to Eat You," an eight-song disc the Omaha quintet splits with Tokyo's Eastern Youth.

Both bands play craggy, ardent post-hardcore of a sort familiar to people who've heard at least some of the post-1984 Dischord catalogue. While the most unusual thing about Eastern Youth's surging refrains is that they're in Japanese, the artier Cursive takes its music in less expected directions. "Am I Not Yours?" finds singer-guitarist Tim Kasher howling "Jealousy!" over an insistent cello figure, and the dubby "Escape Artist" concludes with a found-sound collage. If Cursive's stop-and-start style loses some of the punch of straight-ahead punk, it sacrifices none of the passion.

The '60-style cover graphics of Dame Fate's "Time and Tide Wait for No Man" suggest that this local trio's music will resemble the retro-pop of guitarist-keyboardist Melissa Farris's previous outfit, Tuscadero, while such titles as "Lovely Drug" and "Poison Wings of a Butterfly" hint at goth. In fact, the band does favor caustic timbres and brooding tempos, but it goes easy on horror-flick melodrama. These eight songs are heavy metal without the thunder, goth without the plastic fangs.

Although bassist-singer Yalan Papillons is drawn to lost love and other poignant subjects, she never over-emotes. (She's also one of the few post-Bob Lind lyricists with a right to write about butterflies; that's what papillons means in French.) In assigning most of the emotion to the rhythm section, however, Dame Fate risks being too composed. Amid these cool laments, the relatively stormy "Stealing Hearts" is a welcome disturbance of the peace.

-- Mark Jenkins

Both appearing Monday at the Black Cat with Neva Dinova. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Cursive, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8122; for a Sound Bite from Dame Fate, press 8123. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)