Review Summary: Pioneers of post-hardcore make some funky shit.
Fugazi is the most important band of the last twenty years. A bold statement but whatever, I am all about them. Defining what it meant to be underground, making the local show something that could happen at a VFW hall, being constantly politically aware, etc. Listing the advancements Fugazi brought to the music world is seriously pointless because they basically redefined what a band not associated with a major label can do. Who knows if Guy Piccitto, Ian MacKaye, Joe Lally, and Brendan Canty set out to redefine alternative rock in general? I wouldn't put it past them. As much as these four enigmas wished to be recognized simply for just their music, Fugazi has and will be much more for many individuals. Perfectly balancing the aggression of hardcore and the groove of dub, "13 Songs" was the first LP released by the D.C. quartet. By most, it's considered their best, but in reality, what Fugazi release isn't? "13 Songs" was an important note in the band's discography, due to its ability to retain enough aspects of the hardcore genre of the late '80s, to make it popular in that crowd, as well as showing the bands first attempts at experimentation.
"Waiting Room" is probably Fugazi's most well known song. Dubesque bass, punk guitar, and intertwining drums, give a backdrop for MacKaye's personal ranting which has since Minor Threat become much more eloquent in both delivery and method. "Waiting Room", "Bulldog Front", "Glue Man" and "Promises" are all Fugazi classics, and the tracks between them aren't bad either. Everything on "13 Songs" follows a similar sound, but subtle differences in the tracks help the entire album work much better than other compilations ("13 Songs" is a collaboration of the "Margin Walker" and "Fugazi" EPs). The strength of this album is actually the repetitive nature: every track seems to flow into each other because they're all cut from the same cloth. Early Fugazi was less concerned with the instrumentation, and more concerned with preaching their words. Tackling issues from battered friendships ("Promises") to taking upon the persona of a woman ("Suggestion"), MacKaye, Lally, and Piccotto were making sure their audiences were aware that although the music has become softer, the message was just as strong. Which is a perfect description of what "13 Songs" is all about
: streamlining the hardcore formula through a softer, yet more emotional equation.
"13 Songs" was Fugazi's LP and while it's not the most important of their releases (that title would belong to "In on the Kill Taker"), it is certainly a great one. Progressing from the sounds of Rites of Spring, Minor Threat, and Deadline, Fugazi basically single-handedly forced an evolution in the hardcore scene with "13 Songs" (Drive Like Jehu was also an important band in this regard). Gone was the teen angst of the early '80s; Fugazi was making intelligent, artsy, but still emotive music and "13 Songs" is even their most basic release.