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Punk / New Wave - Released May 22, 2013 | Dischord Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The fans are like a cult. And the cult that surrounds Fugazi must be one of the maddest in the history of rock. The hardcore scene's grand masters of Straight Edge (no booze, no drugs!), the Washington quartet has taken the genre to strange new places. On this fourth album from June 1995, released on Dischord, Ian Mac Kaye and friends took on dub (Version), angular rock (Combination Lock) and even ballads (Forensic Scene). And to reassure the most concerned long-time fans, we have classic Fugazi at their most biting and bloody (Downed City, Back To Base). Combining the worldviews of Public Image Ltd., The Fall et Black Flag, Red Medicine is the most beautiful, most menacing door onto the rock’n’roll of the 1990s. Hardcore was reaching the age of reason, and consolidating its neurons like never before. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Punk / New Wave - Released June 24, 2013 | Dischord Records

Disregarding all the wordiness and adjectives that can be heaped like a pile of horse dung at Disneyland upon great, timeless albums, the importance of this record can perhaps be more suitably measured by the number of people who remember the first time they heard it. 13 Songs (a combination of the Fugazi and Margin Walker EPs) is usually among the first records that spring to mind when defining alternative rock. Furious, intelligent, artful, and entirely musical, it's a baker's dozen of cannon shots to the gut -- not just a batch of emotionally visceral and defiant songs recorded by angry young men, but something greater. Nearly every song here reaches an anthemic level without falling prey to pomposity. Most of these songs are anthems of the self rather than a rallying cry of accusation or unification, with "Waiting Room" and "Suggestion" serving as two examples. The attention-getting drop into silence that occurs at the 22-second mark of the former is instantly memorable. The relentless ska/reggae-inflected drive of the song is equally effective, as Ian MacKaye tells everyone listening to get off their behinds and do what they want. During the Meters-meets-Ruts thrust of "Suggestion," MacKaye switches genders for an entirely convincing rant on the objectification of women. Guy Picciotto takes on the persona of an addict on "Glue Man," whose blurred sense of reality is also conveyed in the warped, psychedelic guitars. Picciotto threatens to set himself on fire during "Margin Walker"; given the spirited play of the remaining members, it sounds like the same could be said for the rest of them. Foreshadowing the band's knack for introspective and mid-tempo concluding tracks, the disc ends with MacKaye's "Promises," examining the pitfalls of trust in relationships of any nature. A landmark record. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Punk / New Wave - Released June 25, 2013 | Dischord Records

With its righteous disdain for capitalism and the almighty dollar, Repeater sounds like an angrier American update of Gang of Four's Solid Gold, which had been made ten years earlier. Lines/slogans like "When I need something/I reach out and grab it," "You are not what you own," "I was caught with my hand in the till," and "Everything is greed" bear this out. Though not lacking any sense of conviction, Repeater honestly gets a little stifling. It's not too difficult to see why the band was allegedly lacking a sense of humor at this stage. They could have been yelling about filing their taxes; the yelling begins to fade into a din after a while. The title makes sense, if only by mistake. But -- and that's a big but -- Repeater nearly matches the Fugazi and Margin Walker EPs with its musical invention and skill, spewing out another group of completely invigorating songs, which makes the subject matter and finger-pointing a little easier to swallow. Few rhythm sections of the time had the great interplay of Joe Lally and Brendan Canty. Likewise, the guitar playing and interaction of Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto almost always get overlooked, thanks to all the other subjects brought up when the band is talked about. A guitar magazine even rated Repeater as one of the best guitar records of the '90s, and rightfully so. Anemic revs spiked by pig squeals (or is it a screeching train?) highlight the title track, one of the band's finest moments. (Don't miss MacKaye's vicious double-tracked vocals, either.) As always, MacKaye and Picciotto's noise-terrorism-as-guitar-joust avoids flashiness, used as much as rhythm as punctuation device. Sharp, angular, jagged, and precise. Other gnarling highlights include the preachy "Styrofoam," the late-breaking "Sieve-Fisted Find," and the somewhat ironic "Merchandise," which skewers Mr. Business Owner by asking, "What could a businessman ever want more/Than to have us sucking in his store?" Plenty of fans had to suck in someone's store to get this record, after all. [The CD version of Repeater added the 3 Songs 7" as a bonus, titled as Repeater + 3 Songs.] © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Punk / New Wave - Released June 29, 2013 | Dischord Records

It's unfortunate that a band so forward looking as Fugazi has been criticized over and over for not remaking "Waiting Room" or "Repeater." Some have called them sellouts, regardless of the band's integrity and class, while others consider them elitists, "guiding" the Washington, D.C., scene. This could not be further from the truth. As the film and soundtrack to Instrument proved, this is a band that is only concerned with musical growth, with each album improving on its predecessor. But no album they have put together has the jump ahead that The Argument has. Being both ear-shattering and spine-tingling at once, this is Fugazi at their "musical" best. Incorporating melody with texture and their signature angular approach, the band has raised the bar for themselves and others once again. The first "full" track, "Cashout" (an anti-gentrification anthem), is classic stuff, with a subtle guitar line exploding into a screaming chorus, but this time there is less of an emphasis on the screaming and more on the gentle melody of the verse. Slower tracks like "The Kill" and "Life and Limb" touch on strange new territory. Gentle with sense of swagger, these songs lack none of the power that the band is known for, while the two-drum assault of "Ex-Spectator" (courtesy of Brendan Canty and second drummer Jerry Busher) has just as much potency on disc as it does live. And the final song, "Argument," with its rolling guitar lines, dreamy breakdown, and vocals that build from gentle to screaming, may be the best closer on a Fugazi record since "Promises." Listeners may be surprised to hear strings open up the record, or piano guiding the brilliant "Strangelight," but this is the album that proves once and for all that Fugazi has become a purely musical force. Fifteen years in and Fugazi is still progressing. It makes one wonder what they're capable of in the future. © Chris True /TiVo
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Punk / New Wave - Released July 5, 2013 | Dischord Records

From the opening swarms of "Exit Only," you can tell Steady Diet of Nothing will differ from Fugazi's earlier records. Repeater's excellence can't be denied, but the band stood in danger of stagnating its sound. To its benefit, Fugazi made some changes, employing more herk-a-jerk rhythms and dub influences, and changing up the lyrical focus. Actually, the lyrics get a bit vague -- bordering on equivocality at times -- which has its advantages and disadvantages. With Steady Diet, Fugazi get more economical and less forceful. Though not nearly as neck-gnawing as Repeater, Steady Diet still packs a sizable wallop, but with slower tempos and less deliberate instrumentation. As always, a poison-tipped dart is pointed at the government, media, and major entertainment outlets. Ian MacKaye's "destroy your television" rant on "Polish" is one of the more direct and simple songs. His "KYEO" comes straight from the rice paddy or homefront, depending on interpretation. It urges the listener to always remain aware, whether awaiting the enemy's next battle move or remaining blissfully unaware of how people can be taken advantage of by others. As with the rest of the band's catalog, lyrics are provided in the booklet. This makes things much easier on the intent listener, as both Picciotto and MacKaye have weird voices that become unintelligible when howled over their instrumental din. The lyric sheet is most useful on Picciotto's "Latin Roots." He's not warning you that "it's time to meet Jamaicans," as it sounds, but rather "it's time to meet your makers." Not quite lending itself to "Purple Haze"-like levels of butchery, but important to point out nonetheless. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Punk / New Wave - Released June 29, 2013 | Dischord Records

In on the Kill Taker is like scrubbing your face with steel wool. It finds the band relying on rusty guitar shards that scrape, seethe, and hiss, further removing itself from the sound of 13 Songs and Repeater. Harsh and grating, Fugazi surprisingly produces sheer noise at times, best witnessed in the lengthy closing of "23 Beats Off" and the unintentional Gremlins homage that opens "Walken's Syndrome." Joe Lally's bass and Brendan Canty's drums are relegated to acting as a guide; they're pushed -- but not squashed -- down in the mix, allowing for Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto's guitars to take control, corrosively so. It's probably Fugazi's least digestible record from front to back, but each track has its own attractive qualities, even if not immediately perceptible. "Facet Squared" and "Public Witness Program" open the record furiously, but the majority of the following "Return the Screw" is hardly audible, aside from occasional vocal tantrums. A good amount of time is spent alternating between low-key guitar noodling and intrusive bursts of aggression. They're smart with their sequencing, placing the gentle instrumental "Sweet and Low" (the only track where Lally plays a prominent role) after the exhaustive cacophony of "23 Beats Off," and generally piecing together a set of rather diverse tracks that flows well. Picciotto's anti-Hollywood rant on the properly titled "Cassavetes" is a classic Fugazi moment, as is his similarly name-dropping "Walken's Syndrome." Buried at the end of the record are two excellent lurchers, MacKaye's "Instrument" and Picciotto's "Last Chance for a Slow Dance." Not Fugazi's finest hour, but one of its most daring and rewarding. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Punk / New Wave - Released June 29, 2013 | Dischord Records

Scary -- "Closed Captioned" through "Foreman's Dog" provides the worst stretch of material Fugazi have recorded, full of disjointed patches and awkward moments. There's a virtually complete disregard for linearity that makes things seem stitched together, rather than the seamlessness you've grown accustomed to. Within that chunk and various points in the remainder, the arrangements sound like they're on the verge of collapse, and not in a violently riveting manner. One thing comes to mind, and that's boredom -- perhaps not for the artists involved, but likely for the listener. There are some great moments, however, so End Hits only dips its toes in failure. The epileptic "Lust for Life"-style "Five Corporations" has the riffs and rage, with Ian MacKaye taking the music industry to task for being the slow, incestuously festering beast that it is. Though the band seems to lack the stamina for instrumental wowing it once had, the songwriting is still there. On point as always, MacKaye remains lyrically immolated: "Check the math here/Check in ten years/Clusterf*ck theory/Buy them up and shut them down/Then repeat in every town/Every town will be the same." Nigh on two decades of punk army service, MacKaye is still far away from running out of relevant things to say. Other highlights include "Break" and "Place Position." MacKaye and Picciotto's mantra-like barking of "yawn yawn yawn" during the latter could stop you to think, "Wait, that was kind of funny," amidst all the fist-pumping. Altogether, the least of the band's LPs so far; yes kids, even Fugazi make mistakes. A minor blebby, it's nothing to disown the band for. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Punk / New Wave - Released November 18, 2014 | Dischord Records

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Punk / New Wave - Released June 29, 2013 | Dischord Records

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Punk / New Wave - Released July 7, 2013 | Dischord Records

Released in conjunction with Argument, Furniture is a three-song EP putting together older tracks that had yet to be put on disc. Running with similar consistency to the 3 Songs EP that preceded Repeater, these older songs still sound fresh. "Furniture," with its trademark Ian MacKaye call-response vocal, would have been quite comfortable on either of the first two EPs. The Guy Picciotto-led "Hello Morning" is reminiscent of "Break-In," while the driving instrumental second track, "Number 5," is scorching. Thankfully kept separate from the very different Argument, this should be heard by any Fugazi fan, no matter what time of the band they consider the best. © Chris True /TiVo