This marks the end of my first month of the new feature.
As the inaugural band for the feature, I selected Fugazi (read my initial thoughts and intentions here).
So, after 31 days of listening, what are my thoughts? Well, I have to break that up into two categories. When judging an artist or work of art, you have to think both subjectively (does it work for me) and objectively (does it succeed in its goals), acknowledging that art is both a statement of purpose by the artist and also a product of consumption for an audience (not inherently a ‘product’ though).
As a representation of Post-Hardcore music, I would say that the music of Fugazi (across the three albums I listened to, which included “In On The Kill Taker,” “The Argument” and “13 Songs”) feels like an exemplary expression of the form. The punk rock roots are quite evident, but Fugazi manages to sound simultaneously more controlled but less inhibited then what I normally think of as punk.
If I had a teenage kid who was just starting to get into punk music and I wanted to steer them away from the often solipsistic (and, let’s be honest, whiny) music that represents modern punk/emo, this is exactly what I would give them. Well, this and Sleater-Kinney.
But, that brings me to my own personal experience of the music. As primal and emotionally wrought as Fugazi’s music is, I found it hard as a man in my late 20s to feel all that engaged with the rage and frustration that their music expresses. I’m not trying to make a categorical statement here (because I’m sure there are plenty of exceptions), but I think it’s hard for someone removed from adolescence to tap into that well of angst and fury again.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have my share of angsty days, and I can imagine having a moment when throwing on some Fugazi would totally pump me up. But I think I’ve reached a point in my life where what anger and frustration I feel is better expressed by subtler musical releases. That’s not to say that an adult can’t find resonance within punk or post-hardcore, but I think it helps if you were invested in the genre at least since your teenage years.
What I appreciate about Fugazi is that there is a definite focus on musicality and orchestration. I think if I had gotten into Fugazi at 18 when my interest in punk was waning, I might have really fallen in love.
As is, though, I appreciate their music and I wish I had spent a little more time with their final album, “The Argument,” as it represents an intriguing evolution of their sound. Unfortunately, I focused on the albums that I noticed fans recommending the most and so I didn’t really check out “The Argument” until these last couple days. I, of course, can and will still explore their music. But January is over and this is where I stand.
Will I Buy An Album? Not right now. I have a few mp3s on my computer and a couple Youtube playlists set up, so I can get my Fugazi fix anytime I want. But I don’t foresee having a hankering all that regularly, so I think I’ll pass on making a new music purchase now. That could change in time, though (if it does, I’ll probably pick up “The Argument”).
Fugazi fans, please don’t hate me*. I enjoyed what I heard, I gave them a pretty fair shot (not listening to them everyday, but listening quite a bit throughout the month), even going so far as to watch “Instrument,” their documentary (my thoughts here). I think the best thing I can say is that I truly regret not having gotten into them when I was younger, but, alas, I feel like I’ve missed my window for them becoming one of those Important Bands in my life.
Favorite Song: “Waiting Room” is the obvious pick as, from what I can tell, if Fugazi were said to have a ‘signature hit’, this would be it. It’s a pretty great little banger and I can certainly understand its mass appeal (as ‘mass’ as the Fugazi fanbase is). Of course, it’s probably one of those songs that ‘real fans’ ignore, like Radiohead’s “Creep,” but oh well.
Next Month: Jazz Rap
*If you are a Fugazi fan, you might enjoy checking out The Finger, a one-off band formed by Ryan Adams and Jesse Malin. I randomly stumbled across their one album when I was working at a used CD store in Philly. I don’t really know how else to describe it but as a somewhat reverent homage/parody of post-hardcore music. It’s definitely created from a place of love, but it isn’t necessarily a revelatory listening experience (not that it was meant to be). If you’re a fan of the genre, you might find some fun with it.