Fugazi

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13 Songs

Fugazi - 13 Songs ©1990 Dischord
1. Waiting Room
2. Bulldog Front
3. Bad Mouth
4. Burning
5. Give Me The Cure
6. Suggestion
7. Glue Man
8. Margin Walker
9. And The Same
10. Burning Too
11. Provisional
12. Lockdown
13. Promises

13 Songs compiles Fugazi's first two EP releases onto one handy CD, thus continuing the trend for convenience and ease by Dischord records. The simply titled CD matter of factly displays Fugazi at their earliest form and more importantly shows what an incredible powerhouse they were even in their formative stages. In a most nonchalant manner, the songs displayed on these first two EPs are immensely imaginative and completely above and beyond what many bands tied to hardcore or punk were putting out in those days.

Fugazi's roots, of course, are quite well documented. Singer/guitarist Ian MacKaye had played in numerous Washington DC outfits, including Minor Threat and Embrace. The latter band showed a bit more of where MacKaye was heading musically, although their musical approach lacked much of the inventive nature of Fugazi. The other singer/guitarist, Guy Picciotto, was the frontman for Rites of Spring, whose sound foreshadowed Fugazi somewhat. The fact that drummer Brendan Canty was also a member of Rites of Spring also tends to help. Fugazi simply shredded away many of the pretenses found within hardcore and punk and created a unique sound that made the most of the band's cumulative talents. Having two lead singers alternating songs helped define their sound immensely as well as allow for two different voices to push forth different songwriting ideas. Though generally the singers tended to take the lead for individual songs, there is quite a bit of interplay between the two, particularly on the band's most infamous song, "Waiting Room". The guitars on this album are razor precise as well as very original in approach. Between the jagged riffing and the cleanly picked leads, much character is created with the duo's take on guitar playing. The rhythm section of bassist Joe Lally and Canty is immaculate and breathtaking. Moreover, the songs themselves are the kind that grow on you like fungus in a dark forest bed. "Give me the Cure", "Promises", "Bad Mouth" and "Suggestion" are among the highlights, although basically every song here is noteworthy in one respect or another.

Admittedly, I have enjoyed later Fugazi releases more for the more experimental approaches, 13 Songs is a required purchase for anyone who hankers to hear a style that is fresh and extremely well done. Fugazi helped redefine the "post-punk" genre as well as inspire multitudes of bands to approach their guitars in a completely different manner. For those who haven't experienced Fugazi, 13 Songs is a great start and may very well inspire you to find the rest of their discography.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2001

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Repeater + 3 Songs

Fugazi - Repeater + 3 Songs ©1990 Dischord
1. Turnover
2. Repeater
3. Brendan #1
4. Merchandise
5. Blueprint
6. Sieve-fisted Find
7. Greed
8. Two Beats Off
9. Styrofoam
10. Reprovisional
11. Shut The Door
12. Song #1
13. Joe #1
14. Break-in

Urgent and contemplative. Fugazi raged into the 90s by refining their already unique sound into a slicing blade of aggression and intelligent passion with Repeater. Using feedback as a weapon and instrument, Fugazi's effort here is remarkably unusual without being overly experimental to the point of annoyance. As always, the band's songwriting precludes that sort of thing. Tracks like "Merchandise", "Sieve-fisted Find" and "Styrofoam" are examples of tight, precise riffing (not terribly far off from the band's first two releases) with the flowing, urgent and smooth rhythm section of Brendan Canty and Joe Lally. But on songs like the title track, the band veers into new territory, using feedback to warp the music. Without the steady rhythm section, the music would easily fly into space, but it is held down and kept somewhat sane. The vocals, still handled by both Guy Picciotto and Ian MacKaye, are impassioned throughout. MacKaye's singing on "Shut the Door" is nearly blood chilling when he screams "She's not breathing/she's not moving/she's not coming back". It is this sort of honest emotion that keeps Fugazi firmly placed on the musical map. Repeater is the sort of disc that earns the title, as it will spend a lot of time on your turntable or CD player.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2000

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Steady Diet Of Nothing

Fugazi - Steady Diet Of Nothing ©1992 Dischord
1. Exit Only
2. Reclamation
3. Nice New Outfit
4. Stacks
5. Latin Roots
6. Steady Diet
7. Long Division
8. Runaway Return
9. Polish
10. Dear Justice Letter
11. KYEO

In all of Fugazi's ten plus years of making music, only one album has even remotely lacked the intensity and amazing songwriting standard the band set for themselves at the starting gate. That album happens to be Steady Diet of Nothing, which, judged by itself, is still a pretty darned good album. However, when compared to the rest of the band's output, it ranks just a bit short. On the plus side, this record has two of the band's best compositions ever. "Nice New Outfit" is a defining piece for Fugazi, demonstrating nearly all of their best traits in one fell swoop. It has the simple solo break with a great harmony and twin guitar interplay that pretty much only Fugazi has quite mastered. Moreover, Brendan Canty's rhythm pattern in this is just awesome. This guy is one of the best drummers out there and he's so demure. Anyhoo, "KYEO" is another fantastic song with a very ear pleasing riff open the song. On the other hand, "Latin Roots", "Stacks" and other songs don't quite gel as strongly, lowering the impact of the album on a whole. These songs tend to be a bit more low key than what Fugazi generally puts out, as well as a touch experimental. Regardless of that, the inventive textures and overall stunning talent level of this band still has a lot to offer. It's just that when I have an entire Fugazi catalogue to choose from, Steady Diet of Nothing is often the last one I'll choose when I want to hear the band.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2000

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In On The Kill Taker

Fugazi - In On The Kill Taker ©1993 Dischord
1. Facet Squared
2. Public Witness Program
3. Returning The Screw
4. Smallpox Champion
5. Rend It
6. 23 Beats Off
7. Sweet And Low
8. Cassavetes
9. Great Cop
10. Walken's Syndrome
11. Instrument
12. Last Chance For A Slow Dance

Unheralded yet amazing, In on the Kill Taker is definitely one of Fugazi's highlights in a career full of them. The album easily mops the floor with its predecessor Steady Diet of Nothing and doesn't quite give in to the experimentalism that marked later albums. Rather, the band focuses on a denser sound as well as aggressive and emotionally charged songs. From the outset, "Facet Squared" and "Public Witness Program" charge out of the gate with unexpected energy. But rather than dwell in a single mindset throughout the album, Fugazi is able to incorporate quieter songs with varying stages of intensity, especially on "Rend It", which was a downright chilling song live. As always, the ability of these four musicians is overwhelmingly evident. Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto's mastery of guitar texture and interplay is better than ever throughout, as "Sweet and Low" or "Cassavetes" demonstrate. Naturally, I have to run Brendan Canty's drumming up a flagpole and salute because his stunning talent continually impresses me. In on the Kill Taker seems to be a somewhat overlooked Fugazi album but rest assured it is certainly one of their most fulfilling pieces of work.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2000

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Red Medicine

Fugazi - Red Medicine ©1995 Dischord
1. Do You Like Me
2. Bed For Scraping
3. Latest Disgrace
4. Birthday Pony
5. Forensic Scene
6. Combination Lock
7. Fell, Destroyed
8. By You
9. Version
10. Target
11. Back To Base
12. Downed City
13. Long Distance Runner

Fugazi must have caused many a head to turn and be scratched in wonderment with Red Medicine in 1995. Finally giving in to their urge to completely dive into experiment guitar noise rock, Fugazi both teased their listeners with straight forward, classic Fugazi songs like "Do You Like Me", "Target" and "Bed for Scraping" and challenged them to new approaches to guitar music. The rhythm section of Brendan Canty and Joe Lally enjoyed a lot of space and area to work on the recording and while the music flies off in many unexpected tangents, these two calmly keep the lower end in check. Guitarists Guy Picciotto and Ian MacKaye show a lot of sense of varied texture and throughout the album create either intentionally dissonant expression or sonically pleasing tones. At the very least, you are going to hear guitar approached in a completely different manner than you may have ever expected, without the band diving into ridiculously obscure tunings or effects. Feedback, bizarre rhythms and duelling riffs fly all over the place, particularly in the midsection of the album where the band simply allow themselves to go nuts. Some of the passages are guaranteed to be a difficult listen but at the same time, others are extrordinary as well. Whenever the band does work within conventional song structure, such as the aforementioned "Bed for Scraping" or "Back to Base", their sense of song progression is astounding. Though Red Medicine is Fugazi's most difficult album to get through and often requires many listens before you quite can handle the onslaught of experimentalism, the music is very rewarding in the long run. You have to give it up for a band who refuses to let themselves stagnate after being in the spotlight for so long.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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End Hits

Fugazi - End Hits ©1998 Dischord
1. Break
2. Place Position
3. Recap Modotti
4. No Surprise
5. Five Corporations
6. Caustic Acrostic
7. Closed Captioned
8. Floating Boy
9. Foreman's Dog
10. Arpeggiator
11. Guilford Fall
12. Pink Frosty
13. F/D

Skip directly to track 10 on your CD player and listen to what could very well be one of the all-time coolest instrumental songs ever recorded: "Arpeggiator". I always knew Fugazi were quite accomplished as musicians, but this is just simply a kick in the pants. Pardon me, I'm going to repeat that track.

Oh...the review...

Unless you've had your head in an elitist crowd, Fugazi has stood as a pillar of principle and true independence for the past ten years. Never once compromising their sound for any passing feeble trend or bowing down to pressures of the almighty dollar, Fugazi's commitment to truth in music and the industry deserves more praise than words can heap on. The band rewrote the "hardcore" book (a scene they're removed from anyhow) back on their first self titled album and has revitalized themselves on nearly every album. Their last, Red Medicine proved to be a new vista for the band, much more experimental and outside even the atypical Fugazi paradigm. But there were some damn fine moments on that album. Three long years later (trust me, I've been impatiently waiting for a new Fugazi album for two years), Fugazi blasts back with a stunning piece of work that takes all the stronger elements of the last album and hones them into new powerhouses of music.

Believe it or not, for the first time, Fugazi had moments reminiscent of another band. Parts of "Recap Modotti" reminded me a bit of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation. The songs on this album are generally exercises in taste and restraint, in comparison to their past. Neither Guy or Ian are as in-your-face with their vocals anymore (except in rare moments like "Five Corporations"); instead the newer approach allows their singing to develop well with the musical backdrop. And while Joe Lally and Brendan Canty prove they're still one of the best rhythm sections around, Guy and Ian's guitarwork is more avant and weaving than before. Which takes us back to the instrumental "Arpeggiator". Prepare to be blown away by Fugazi yet again.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1998

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Instrument Soundtrack

Fugazi - Instrument Soundtrack ©1999 Dischord
1. Pink Frosty Demo
2. Lusty Scripps
3. Arpeggiator Demo
4. Afterthought
5. Trio's
6. Turkish Disco
7. Me And Thumbelina
8. Floating Boy Demo
9. Link Track
10. Little Debbie
11. H.B.
12. I'm So Tired
13. Rend It Demo
14. Closed Caption Demo
15. Guilford Fall Demo
16. Swingset
17. Shaken All Over
18. Slo Crostic

Admittedly this album is for longtime and true blue Fugazi fans, not the curious. Unlike all the other Fugazi albums, I was not at all immediately inducted into the songs and chanting "Fugazi" at a volume which invariably annoys the neighbors. Instrument is more or less a collection of demo tracks and practice tapes accumulated by this supremely talented band over the years and in fact is almost entirely instrumental (hence the album title). What you get is a bagful of songs that are great trivia material for the fans who faint at the sight of Ian MacKaye. Some of it is quite interesting. "Arpeggiator Demo" shows that exceptionally wonderful song from End Hits went through quite a bit of work before morphing into the unbelievable final version. Other tracks just aren't very interesting at all. The liner notes show that not all the members necessarily performed on all the tracks, so what you hear are embryonic pieces of work. As I said before, this is for the hardcore Fugazi fanatic and for the first time in the decade plus history of the band, not essential.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

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The Argument

Fugazi - The Argument ©2001 Dischord
1. untitled
2. Cashout
3. Full Disclosure
4. Epic Problem
5. Life And Limb
6. The Kill
7. Strangelight
8. Oh
9. Ex-spectator
10. Nightshop
11. Argument

There are some things in life that are cause for celebrations. Weddings between two lovebirds, finally landing that Mars probe safely on the red planet, finding out your auto insurance rates have dropped in half and finally, but most importantly, a new Fugazi album. While Fugazi has been a bit more sporadic in their touring and album releasing schedules, they certainly cannot be faulted for putting out subpar material for the sake of having another release out. The Argument makes a great argument for the quality over quantity issue.

As with 1998's End Hits, Fugazi seems to have hit a songwriting and performing stride that is unparalleled in modern music with The Argument. Unlike the divergent and extremely experimental Red Medicine from 1995, Fugazi seems content to stick with the general feel of End Hits to put together a ten track album (eleven if you consider the untitled intro radio noise first track) that is loose, casual and unbelievably gripping. Between the percussive expressiveness of Brendan Canty (joined by longtime roadie Jerry Busher on second drums and extra percussion for several tracks) and the imaginative guitars of Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto, The Argument is a vibrant, dynamic record that transcends all forms of modern rock music. The band cannot be accused of being "punk" - except in their lifelong DIY stance - and simply exist beyond all normal definitions. There's rock and then there's Fugazi Rock. The band seems to have discarded both expectations of what Fugazi is supposed to be and how music should be approached to create an unpretentious, honest new outlook on playing. Not enough can be said about the band's ability to create guitar textures and leads that truly sound like no other. Moreover, the extra percussion and doubled-up drumming on "Epic Problem" and other songs adds an immensely powerful new dimension to their music. Meanwhile, bassist Joe Lally still continues to provide the perfect steady undercurrent to the songs, as he has done for the band's entire existence. And finally, the looser nature of the music is coupled with a tendency for the music to be catchier than ever. This is the type of music that grows on a listener and within a few listens becomes a daily requirement.

Although Fugazi has been around for nearly fifteen years, this is a band whose creativity and original approach to music is far from being outdated or dried up. The Argument is most certainly worth the wait and for fans, it is a wonderful new release full of a ton of powerful musical moments. For those who haven't discovered Fugazi, what the hell is your problem?

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2001

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Furniture EP

Fugazi - Furniture EP ©2001 Dischord
1. Furniture
2. Number 5
3. Hello Morning

Released simultaneously with The Argument, this brief three song EP features a trio of older Fugazi songs that hadn't yet made it to official release. Since the three songs didn't fit into the general vibe of The Argument, Fugazi wisely separated these songs to allow each release to contain its proper atmosphere and mood.

Since these songs were written a bit further back, they tend to have the feel of older Fugazi. They're a tad more aggressive, although extremely musical and well developed. Guy Picciotto and Ian MacKaye each have a vocal while the middle song is a instrumental. The productive is phenomenal, giving the presentation a truly blistering, powerful sphere of sound. The chemistry of Fugazi is as evident as ever.

As with 3 Songs, the companion EP to Repeater, Furniture is a great little addition to the Fugazi discography, albeit brief. This is yet another fine set of songs from one of music's most consisently engaging artists.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2002

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