Fugazi: The Argument

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JasonK, Oct 19, 2001.

  1. JasonK

    JasonK Supporting Actor

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    Hey all,
    I just got this today, but only had the chance to listen to the first 3 tracks. The first thing I noticed was that track 2 (the first track is w/out music) is a lot harder than what I'm used to from Fugazi. The drums kicked a lot more than on albums like 13 Songs or even End Hits. I like.
    However, Fugazi also released a single with "Furniture" on it, but the 3 songs on the single are not on the Argument. So I ordered the single and will post my thoughts on that and the rest of Argument at some point in the near future.
    Any other takes on the album?
     
  2. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    quote: The first thing I noticed was that track 2 (the first track is w/out music) is a lot harder than what I'm used to from Fugazi. The drums kicked a lot more than on albums like 13 Songs or even End Hits. I like.[/quote]
    Well, from a production standpoint you might be correct, but from a songwriting standpoint this is probably the weakest Fugazi record yet.
    Understand that 13 songs (the combination of the first 2 EPs "Fugazi" and "Margin Walker") was recorded on the super cheap at a studio which was just really getting seriously established at the time. 13 songs tunes have a much lower production value, mostly because they come from a different era of both recording and of the band's budgets. The drums on all their more recent records have gotten punchier as the recording technology availble at medium budgets has increased, as has Fugazi's popularity, record sales and in turn recording budgets.
    End hits had pretty good drum sounds, however the songs on that record didn't really lend themselves, for the most part, to attack heavy drums. End Hits was, for the majority, a laid back record.
    The songs on Arguemnt are certainly not harder than Fugazi's better work (Repeater, In on the kill taker)-- this is just another step down the road they started with RED MEDICINE and had continued on END HITS.
    They've steadily continued into the realm of what I like to call "meander rock". The songs have no serious direction- and certainly no fury that the earlier records had. The Arguement, for the most part, falls in closer with groups like Mogwai or Belle and Sebastion, essentially sleepy-time music.
    The saddest part about it is that I was ready, after hearing the Arguement, to just resolve myself with the fact that the boys are getting old and (as I said a million times) rock is a kids game. However, the Furniture single shows that these boys still have a fair dose or rock in them somewhere,
    Of course, the tune FURNITURE is as old as the band itself. It was actually performed at the band's very first show more than 10 years ago, and they have only now gotten around to recording it. The song certainly has a feel of the material from 13 songs (however the performance on the single is a little different to how they played it live. The "stops" in the song used to have little slinky drum fills- usually punctuated with Brendan's bell. If you're interested to hear the "original" version- there is a portion recorded live in 89 or 90 on the Fugazi film INSTRUMENT, which is coming to DVD next month!)
    So I thought, maybe it just goes to show they're old-- the only rockin tune on the album or single is 10 years old. Not so fast! Number 5 the second song on the single rocks with reckless abandon- and it's completely instrumental! I think the arguement would have been a better record if more songs sounded like Number 5!
    Then came the 3rd song on the single, HELLO MORNING which also brings a big bag of power and tension that fugazi is known for. Just the guitar intro alone builds tension and you can FEEL something big is coming. And the song delivers.
    The fact that these 3 rockin uptempo tones were relegated to the single leads me to believe Fugazi had an intention to create a very mild record with the Arguement. I'm not sure exactly WHY, but I guess I can say I'm glad Fugazi is always bucking expectations. However, that being said, I really long to get my hands on another full on anthem-rock album like repeater before Fugazi disappears off into the sunset.
    It was always, to me, like Fugazi was a very straight ahead, take the lead kind of band. All the songs moved forward- I never felt the songs sat still or waddled around in their own excesses (like too many bands are guilty of these days... ahem,tool,ahem)-- the last 3 Fugazi records have portrayed Fugazi not as a forward moving band- rather one meandering about, not sure which direction to push the songs.
    Overall, the arguement is a C- in my opinion. It will, no doubt, grow on me as I listen to it- but it certainly was another disappointment if you're looking for fugazi to be the take the lead through the forest-type band they were in the early/mid 90's. Anymore they seem more like a lost hiker, wandering around hoping to FIND a trail.
    Postscript: Absolutely pick up the Single for Furniture.
    On another aside, inside the foldover around the booklet is a photo from the Kent State University May Fouth monument, here on the Kent State University campus (actually feels like about 100 years from where I sit on campus currently typing, but it's on campus none the less). Nothing special about the picture, just figured I'd mention it was neat to see a photo from home town in their album (Fugazi played a free show at KSU in 1998, when I assume the pic was taken).
    For ref (my opinions of previous Fugazi Records):
    Fugazi EP : B+
    Margin Walker: A-
    Repeater: A
    Steady Diet of Nothing: A-
    In on the kill taker: A+
    Red Medicine: B
    End Hits: C
    Arguement: C-
    -Vince
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    [Edited last by Vince Maskeeper on October 24, 2001 at 04:11 PM]
     
  3. JasonK

    JasonK Supporting Actor

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    Vince,
    As I stated in my earlier review it was just a quick listen of the first 3 tracks.
    I've now listened to the whole thing 4 times from start to finish (need something to do on my 3 hour breaks at school) and I have to respectfully disagree with you.
    I was actually gonna ask you what the Kent State pic was...thanks for explaining.
    And I ordered "Furniture" last week, should be getting it tomorrow. (Kind of neat how they released them seperate...almost like Fugazi bookends...the start of their career with 'Furniture' to where they are now with "The Argument.'
    Anyhow, my take on the disc follows:
    I find that Ian can be just as powerful on the brink of whispering his vocals, as opposed to belting them out full blast.
    Example: I was just as moved by his refrain in "Epic Problem" 'I've got an epic problem, this epic problem's not a problem for me. And inside, I know I'm broken, but I'm working as far as you can see' as I was when he belts out 'We owe you nothing, you have no control' on Merchandise 10 years (give or take) earlier.
    I've been impressed with Fugazi's willingness to change as musicians, and not just become a straight-ahead punk band.
    This is why 'The Argument' sounds so fresh. Rather than paint themselves into a corner and repackage 'Merchandise' and 'Waiting Room' over and over again, they've taken their music in new directions - on the Argument they added strings on 2 tracks, Joe Lally sings, and I am glad that they took their music in this direction.
    As for my own comment about how the album sounded "harder" you were correct in assuming I meant production-wise. (I probably should edit that so it makes sense...)
    I think The Onion's AV club review summed it up when they said (I'm paraphrasing a bit) that "While every other Fugazi album felt like a new page from the last, this one sounds like an entirely new chapter." They gave a very favorable review to both 'The Argument' and 'Furniture,' btw.
    And you really think that the boys are 'sounding old?'
    I think 'The Argument' (the song) is one of their most powerful. It starts mellow, and closes with an all-out assault from the guitars. One of the best closing tracks I've ever heard.
    My opinions (using your format):
    13 Songs - A
    Repeater +3 Songs - A+
    Steady Diet of Nothing - B+ (the first Fugazi I bought..on tape...freshman in High School...)
    In On the Kill Taker - A
    Red Medicine - B+
    End Hits - B-
    Instrument (soundtrack) - B (I'm So Tired is a great song)
    Instrument (Video) A
    The Argument - A-
    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts Vince, they are most valued.
    -Jason
    P.S. I hadn't heard that Instrument was coming to DVD soon...I asked about that months ago! (You answered me back then, too.) That is great great news.
     
  4. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    Instrument-Is that the documentary shown on Sundance from time to time? Ive only caught a glimse once and always looked out for it, but mow my shitty cable comp had taken Sundance away.
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  5. JasonK

    JasonK Supporting Actor

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    Jon,
    Instrument is the documentary done by Jem Cohen. A great flick, offering insight into Fugazi. They don't let you get too close, (ie into band discussion) but the music is terrific, plus it's nice to listen to other fans, and see Ian take some to task for moshing at the shows, spitting on each other, and whatnot. It really is worth seeing.
    Jason
     
  6. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    You can call me closed minded (and you won't be the first), but the minute a rock band encorporates "strings" and is serious about it, it's pretty much all out the window for me.
    There is an urge, as bands grow older, to assume that they have fully exploited the "rock" format. To make the self-absorbed proclaimation that they have, in fact, done all that can be done within the rock format, and must now branch out in order to fully realize their artistic vision. It is this error that causes the blotation you tend to get with "virtuoso" prog rock style bands.
    I have always used Fugazi as a prime example of a band who is willing to continue blazing new ground within the confines of the rock format (5 piece Drums, Bass, Guitars, Vox)- now they have added strings and a second drummer.
    A "percussionist" and gospel backup singers are not too far behind. Before you know it, they'll be the Grateful Dead.
    [​IMG]
    But seriously, the new album is best listened to as bedtime music IMHO. Not saying I hate it, but while some see the Fugazi rock as painting itself into a corner, I see it as a consistant blueprint to younger bands on how to build the house in the first place.
    -Vince
    PS: Yes Jon, the documentary you saw on Sundance is INSTRUMENT. It's coming to DVD next month.
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    [Edited last by Vince Maskeeper on October 25, 2001 at 12:53 AM]
     
  7. JasonK

    JasonK Supporting Actor

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    Vince,
    I guess you and I will just have to "agree to disagree" on this one. I understand your point about wanting Fugazi to have a blueprint for other bands to follow, but if they were doing the same thing now as they were ten years ago, they'd be another rock band trying to sound just as fresh. I don't know about you, but bands who do this (Aerosmith, AC/DC, are 2 off the top of my head) sure aren't at the top of their game now, and probably could have hung it up years ago with little to no loss in the music world. (This coming from a guy who's a fan of NEITHER band...so yes it's biased.)
    Good discussion though Vince, let me know if the album grows on you at all. I'll let you know what I think of 'Furniture' as soon as I get it, should be today.
    Jason
     

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