It’s been nearly ten years since influential Post-Hardcore punk band Fugazi decided to take a break. This band, of which featured member from several highly influential punk bands from the Washington D.C. hardcore scene including Rites of Spring, Minor Threat, Embrace, and Teen Idles, not only were forward thinking and creative in the musical sense, but also in an ethical and business sense, from playing cheap accessible shows that charged $5 (£3) to not making merchandise for affordable touring, they really were an individual spectacle. This was a band who loathed the structure of the corporate music business; one time they refused an interview with Rolling Stone because they advertised alcohol and tobacco!
All we can do for now is decide which of their albums is cream of the crop. So, for your entertainment, guest writer Omega Charlie from Big Sixes is fighting in defence of ‘Steady Diest Of Nothing’ whilst AH’s top ‘Versus’ hound dog Aaron Lohan is all over ‘The Argument’. Battle on, gents…
Steady Diet Of Nothing (Omega Charlie)
‘Steady Diet of Nothing’ is arguably the best Fugazi album ever. Every album is gonna make you want to throw a fist in the air and get as close to the stage as possible, that goes without saying, but the raw Fugazi DIY ethic really comes out gleaming in ‘Steady Diet…’. They recorded and produced the whole thing themselves, something I can say first hand is emotionally and physically draining, and a huge test to relationships inside the band. The bass is way to loud, it just makes everything so much groovier, the feedback is nasty, just makes everything so much more raucous and the vocal melodies are so twisted and strange that I bet Cedric Bixler wished he got to the Drive-In 2 years earlier.
‘Long Division’ is the 7th song on the album, and one of my favorites, slow and steady, beautifully orchestrated, honest and real, and like, how cool is it when ‘Runaway Return’ comes on and it almost seems like it joins together. Like it could have been one big song. In fact, down to the self production, the whole album loosely links and entwines, and down to the lyrics and themes, the album calls your name, makes the whole thing as relatable as a great book or a great film. From angry skipping-school kid with a skateboard to docile and slightly over weight social media manager, it’ll always speak to you, you can always relate.
The Argument (Aaron Lohan)
As I begin to type this article, I suddenly realise that I am lost for words at how I feel about this record; not just that, how I feel about Fugazi in general. Not only were they a musical phenomenon but also an inspirational force that were brimming with ground breaking business practices and an ambitious DIY attitude, and they were the most thought provoking punk band that had walked into the underground limelight. All of this hard work from the skin and bones of their fingertips would eventually be moulded into a piece of work in what is known as ‘The Argument,’ their final offering before their indefinite hiatus, a record that helped to leave an intriguing ravenous hole in alternative music.
I’ve only been into Fugazi for the last few years; learning of this other band that featured Ian Mackaye from Minor Threat, who were sonically different in regards to sound but still shared the same message and ideas really fascinated me. After processing all of their records in multiple sittings of which included ’13 Songs,’ ‘Repeater,’ ‘Red Medicine,’ and so on, I eventually came across ‘The Argument,’ one of two releases which gave evidence for their existence in the post 20th Century. I was aware at how musically progressive and innovative the band were, but not on a scale such as this!
The moment those strings sear through the static of the radio frequency on ‘Untitled’ it makes you feel attentive to what is about to channel through your ear canals. The utilisation of a steady drum beat, subtle guitars, and quiet vocals on the anti-gentrification anthem ‘Cashout’ develops into focused distortion and a sharp yell mixed in with a chilling cello. ‘Full Disclosure’ features the panicked cries from guitarist Guy Picciotto who is enveloped in a swarm of angular guitar work which cuts into a smooth “ooo” filled chorus. Slower songs are fantastically mesmerizing with their own specific brand of magic, whether it’s the spine tingling guitar riff of ‘Life and Limb’ or the calming jazz filled groove of ‘The Kill.’ Furthermore, the band turn it up a notch when it comes to accessorising themselves with additional instruments; the wonderfully crafted two punch percussion session on ‘Ex Spectator’ and the eerie space feel of the piano on ‘Strangelight’ are the perfect necessity for greasing the cogs in your brain.
Not only is there an ear shattering structure to the music itself, but even the themes and nature of this record are enough to wet the thought provoking appetite of the mind. Poking and prodding at the faults and cons of our society, the band really know how to point out at something and make you think “Wow, I never thought of it that way but you’re right and I’m suffering from an aneurysm since you’ve blown my mind that much!” Whether it’s the self-accepting nature of ‘Epic Problem’ (“I’ve got this epic problem this epic problem’s not a problem for meand inside I know I’m broken but I’m working as far as you can see.”) or the chilling revelation on how Western Culture is obsessed with violent activities found on ‘Life and Limb’ (“Hey we want our violence doubled, no but really in a loving way.”), this record truly opens the door to your rejected rational mind.
I look over what I have just written about this record now, and realise that yes I actually haven’t been lost for words after all, it was all an illusion. This truly shows the mind blowing nature of ‘The Argument’ as it’s a simple enigma to understand. It is a certainty that when this post hardcore band from D.C. returns from their slumber, they will without a doubt further themselves by creating a follow up that will slice clean off the very feet of their critics, but for now all we can do is wait and enjoy this masterpiece.
Guest writer Omega Charlie sings and plays guitar in Big Sixes.