I already submitted this review a while ago, but its been deleted somehow..
Fugazi - 13 Songs
Brendan Canty -- drums.
Joe Lally -- bass guitar.
Ian MacKaye -- guitar & vocals.
Guy Picciotto -- guitar & vocals.
Fugazi, originally from Washington D.C, have been on the go over 15 years and have released 7 albums. So why, then, do you think 'Why haven't I heard of these guys?' Maybe you have, maybe you haven't. In my experience, more people not, than have. However, they are a band I've only recently discovered myself.
Fugazi are self managed and release their records and albums through their own independant record label partly set up by Ian MacKaye, called Dischord Records. This way they have more control over their band, but less fame. A sacrifice they must have been willing to make. They've toured all around the world; North America, Europe, Australia, Japan, South America and 'many other places in between' according to the website.
There is a noticeable difference between their old music ('13 Songs' 1990, 'Steady Diet of Nothing', 1991) and new music, (The Argument, the latest release, 2001) which shows how the band have progressed. '13 Songs' captures their raw 'post-punk', alternative beating heart, but not too raw to burst your ear drums. '13 Songs' is essential listening for any Fugazi fan, how ever many there are. Fugazi had their first proper gig in 1987 and released '13 Songs' in 1990. They wrote a lot of their material way before they even set foot in the studio.
Onto the album:
The guitar, bass, and drums are all pretty simple, but still effective. Although there are two guitars, its rare that you hear two different guitar sounds. Either only one is playing, or they're both doing the same thing. But that's not a bad thing; it keeps things relatively easy and still sounds good. On some songs there are so many guitar and effect tracks that they drown out everything else like the drums, or the bass. But that is not the case on '13 Songs'. You can hear every part the band intended for you to hear. I saw the set up for both guitarists and they are the most basic I've ever come across. Guy Picciotto uses one distortion pedal hooked up to an amp, that's it! Ian MacKaye's setup on the other hand, is even more basic; he plugs his guitar into an amp with a lead, nothing more, nothing less. It just shows how Fugazi don't need fancy effects to sound good.
The album starts with 'Waiting Room'. It starts with a groovy bass line and then the rest of the parts come in with the drums and the palm muted guitar. It seems that this is one of their preferred song writing methods. Both Ian and Guy sing on 'Waiting Room', but that alternates; on 'Bulldog Front', the second song, only Ian sings. The lyrical work is quite"different.
From 'Bulldog Front'
You think this sh*t just dropped right out of the sky
It's time to harvest the crust from your eyes
Fugazi produce a very distinctive sound, mostly as a result of Guy's voice. They also have the ability to create the right mood; some songs are cheerful, 'feel-good' songs such as 'Margin Walker', and some are darker such as 'Glue Man' and "Promises". The main songs on the album are obviously the best but the others make a good transition between them. 'Waiting Room', 'Bad Mouth', 'Give me the Cure', 'Suggestion', and 'Promises' are all very good and I would recommend giving them a listen. It might be a good idea to try before you buy. Although I did find that the songs grew on me even though I liked them in the first place.
'Bad Mouth' is a good song, especially on behalf of the charismatic vocals featuring the main line 'You can't be what you were..." It's marginally shorter than the two previous songs, fetching in at 2:35. The average song length for the whole album is just over three minutes which is just right.
You can observe a big change when comparing new Fugazi to old Fugazi. Like a lot of bands, they have progressed and improved over the years; I should expect it after 15 years! Eleven years later, the band show no signs of demise; their latest album release in 2001, "The Argument" proved their dexterity as musicians. Not many bands manage to stay together for that long without flaking away, but Fugazi have, and it was thanks to an album like "13 Songs" that got them going in the first place.
They may not be the most famous band on the planet, but they have some great material. They"ve been around the world playing their music to crowds and made 7 albums worth of material in the meantime. I would consider Fugazi a successful band if not in terms of fame, then in musicianship and creativity.
Give Me the Cure
Thanks for reading.