Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
Founded by: Ian MacKaye
Genre(s): punk, rock
Antelope, Beauty Pill, Capitol City Dusters, El Guapo, The Evens, French Toast, Fugazi, Lungfish, Medications, The Pupils
Artificial Peace, Autoclave, Beefeater, Black Eyes, Bluetip, Branch Manager, Circus Lupus, The Crownhate Ruin, Dag Nasty, Deadline, Egg Hunt, Embrace, Faith, Faraquet, Fidelity Jones, Fire Party, Government Issue, Gray Matter, Happy Go Licky, High Back Chairs, Holy Rollers, Hoover, Ignition, Iron Cross, Jawbox, Make Up, Marginal Man, Minor Threat, Nation of Ulysses, One Last Wish, Q and Not U, Red C, Rites of Spring, Scream, Severin, Shudder to Think, Skewbald/Grand Union, Slant 6, Smart Went Crazy, Soulside, State of Alert (S.O.A.), Teen Idles, Three, Trusty, Untouchables, Void, The Warmers, Youth Brigade
Because of the spirit of Dischord, I am going to refrain from listing any album here for fear of giving the impression that any band on the roster is viewed with more importance than any of the others.
If there was ever a need for a figurehead or a template for an independent label, Washington, D.C.'s Dischord Records would sit humbly on the top of your list. Behind the vision and direction of DIY (do it yourself) stalwart Ian MacKaye (Fugazi, Embrace, Egg Hunt, Skewbald/Grand Union, Minor Threat, Teen Idles, and most recently The Evens), Dischord has grown from an entity to release one EP from MacKaye's first band, Teen Idles, to one of the most revered and respected independent label with a catalogue of 150+ releases from 50+ bands. The 25 year-old label was created with the intention of solely releasing music from artists in the D.C. area and has stuck with game plan henceforth. If there were ever an underground living legend, MacKaye would be it, though he would never admit to it. He has singularly defined the phrase "Do It Yourself," by keeping all aspects of Dischord within the entity itself. This means that everything from distribution to artwork to A & R is kept within itself, not to mention being the only label to sell every single one of their CDs at $10 post-paid to this day. Dischord is the product of vision, determination and hard work, and any success is due to that.
As mentioned before, Dischord was initially created as an outlet for releasing MacKaye's first band's, Teen Idles, music. After playing together for a year, the band decided to split up, but wanted to release the music in album format before they moved on. Teen Idles' Minor Disturbance E.P. became Dischord 001 and the ball was officially rolling. Inspired by L.A.'s Dangerhouse Records, Ian MacKaye envisioned a label that concentrated on the burgeoning D.C. punk scene. Within the first year of existence, Dischord released the No Policy E.P. from State of Alert and singles from Minor Threat, Government Issue and Youth Brigade, all D.C. punk bands. The early 80s saw Dischord evolve into a D.C. punk clique, which became a breeding ground to some of the most potent and inspirational music of that era. Before the second half of the decade, they had released albums from the bands previously listed along with records from Faith, Void, Scream and Marginal Man. They also established a relationship with Southern Studios in London that enabled them to distribute albums in Europe along with the U.S. single-handedly expanding their reach exponentially along with solving financial troubles. In the late 80s, Dischord hit its prime; at least as far as known bands are concerned. Within a 5 year period, they released extremely regarded punk albums from Shudder to Think, Three, Jawbox, One Last Wish, Lungfish, Nation of Ulysses, Holy Rollers, Fidelity Jones, Ignition, The High Back Chairs, Severin and Fugazi. It is also notable that Dischord Direct was created during this period, which became the distribution company for themselves along with other D.C. labels.
The 90s saw even more attention thanks to the increased popularity of punk music and the independent scene. Some bands even grew to such demand that they signed with major labels, namely Jawbox and Shudder to Think. MacKaye's Fugazi was also one of these bands receiving big money offers, but opted to stay with Dischord in what one would imagine be an obvious decision with his track record up to this point. As the decade progressed, and pop and hip-hop took over as the trend, Dischord's output slowed and a lot of the big-name bands moved on or broke-up. But do not count MacKaye out yet; he has continued to stick with his initial gameplan and the label has had a slight resurgence as of late. In the past few years, Dischord bands have taken hold of college radio play lists with strong albums from El Guapo, French Toast, Beauty Pill, recently disbanded Black Eyes and Q and Not U, and MacKaye's new collaboration with Amy Farina, The Evens. While output may slow down from time to time, there really is no sign of Dischord going anywhere in any foreseeable future. Basically, if there is quality music being played in D.C., you can find it on Dischord Records.