Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Fuel- Monuments To Excess

Funny that this gets reviewed on the same day as Fugazi- the spectre of D.C.’s finest followed Fuel around for their entire career.

In their defense, though, I should mention that comparing a band to Fugazi is a total fucking cliché at this point- it’s like the easiest (and laziest) thing a reviewer can do. Having said that, however, things become clichés as they are repeated. Fuel recorded the majority of ‘Monuments To Excess’ (career retrospective, yeah!) in 1990. ‘Repeater,’ the Fugazi album which laid down the sonic framework for all of the imitators to follow, was recorded in late ’89 and released in ’90.

Both bands were walking on similar stylistic ground when their respective records came out- I’m not sure who did what when or where. Listening to the Fuel record in the year 2005 is an occasionally unpreventable exercise in playing ‘Name That Fugazi Tune,’ so similar are the signifiers- hell, on ‘Fuel Hymn’ alone there are instances of palm muted picking, guitar neck bending, and vocals that sound a hell of a lot like Guy (who was sounding a hell of a lot like himself way before Fugazi- Rites of Spring was earlier.)
There’s stuff that deviates from the formula, don’t get me wrong- hell, even the carbon copy stuff sounds good- it ROCKS, you know? I’m sure there were kids in Florida who heard Fuel first and thought Fugazi was just okay as a result (the whole Faust/Stereolab thing again.)

Fugazi- Instrument Soundtrack

‘End Hits’ was the least accessible Fugazi record of the bunch- reactions to it ranged from head scratching to outright disgust when it was released. The Instrument soundtrack served as a gateway, End Hits For Dummies- slowed-down, instrumental/ demo versions that got to the meat of all those (amazing) songs and made people go back to re-evaluate. Underrated.

Fugazi- The Argument

As I made my way through ‘The Argument’ upon its release, my favorite song changed almost weekly- ‘Cashout’ for a while, then ‘Full Disclosure,’ ‘Epic Problem,’ ‘Life and Limb,’ ‘Ex-Spectator,’ and finally (currently) ‘Nightshop.’ Seven of the eleven songs!

Purists can (and will, trust me) argue for any of the Fugazi albums being the best/their favorite, which is part of what makes ‘em so alluring. It’s a telling commentary that every time the band puts out a new record, the discussion begins anew with the current material right there in the thick of it.

Fugazi- Furniture

You think of Fugazi in terms of time and proximity- everyone picked up on the band at different times in their lives. Looking back makes you realize that you think you were too whatever to have gotten into the band when they were whenever- instant nostalgia for where you weren’t and how you think that you should have been at that particular then.

(A hell of a sentence, that.)

Each record has been a marked progression- no laurel sitting going on at all, further demarcating times and places for the listener. It’s never going to be possible to go back and see Rites of Spring, or the first area Fugazi show at the Green Street Grill, whatever, and the band seems to realize their trajectory. This EP is as close to the old days as we’re going to get- a concert standby and a couple of burners to listen to while you’re checking for grays in the mirror and realizing that you’re not a kid any more.


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