Quick Review (EP): Margin Walker by Fugazi

Fugazi
Margin Walker EP
Dischord; 1989

My Rating: B-

Best Tracks: “Margin Walker”, “Burning Too”, “Promises”

It’s always puzzled me that so many folks cite Margin Walker as one of Fugazi’s best releases. I’ll admit it’s okay, especially the first and last tracks, but it’s an afterthought compared to the first EP. Nothing here is nearly as iconic or tuneful as “Waiting Room”, or even “Bulldog Front.” The tracks all feel a bit rigid, as if it is too obvious they are studio recordings. Furthermore, the band seems increasingly doctrinaire, more obsessed with the message than the music. The result is that this is the only mediocre record the band ever produced. The songs lack the poppy punch of the 7 Songs set, and for that reason it is a less than memorable release.

Wikipedia article
Allmusic review
My review of Fugazi’s 7 Songs EP
Mark Prindle’s review of Margin Walker

Quick Review (EP): 7 Songs by Fugazi

Fugazi
7 Songs EP
Dischord; 1988

My Rating: A+

Best Tracks: “Waiting Room”, “Burning”, “Suggestion”

Yes, it is THAT good, good enough to warrant us forgiving them for inaugurating the punk/funk/hardcore fusion that would be mimicked ad nauseam in the late 90’s by all the Korn Bizkit’s of the world. From every conceivable standpoint, this debut is a masterpiece, with “Waiting Room”/”Bulldog Front”/”Bad Mouth” standing as one of the greatest opening salvos in rock history. Elsewhere, “Burning” is nearly as strong, featuring an incredibly memorable intro, and “Suggestion” achieves the sort of epic arc that was and still is quite unusual for hardcore. There’s really no other record that brims with as much conviction, passion, and ferocious melodicism as this here extended player, and every track is simply iconic. Furthermore, this is a landmark record, because it’s the point that hardcore punk made the case that it could be, like, capable of the Top 40. The fact is, “Waiting Room” is one helluva pop song, and it might be argued that every track that made it into the buzz bin on MTV in the 90’s somehow directly descended from it. You should probably own two copies of this one: one to listen to, and one to salute on your way out the door every morning. So much more than a hardcore or punk record, the 7 Songs EP is without a doubt one of the finest musical moments of the 1980’s.

AMG review of the 13 Songs compilation
AMG review of “Waiting Room”
Wikipedia article
Confessions of a Cultural Whore review

 

Tracks of the Decade: “Cashout” by Fugazi

654816_356x237“Cashout”
by Fugazi
from THE ARGUMENT (2001)

Fugazi were mostly quiet this decade, releasing only 2001’s THE ARGUMENT before going on indefinite hiatus in 2002. Whether or not we’ll ever see more from the post-punk Fab Four is anybody’s guess, but in particular the album highlight “Cashout” has left that hunger in my belly. “Cashout” reigns supreme, even above the band’s output in the 90’s, harkening back to the 13 SONGS/REPEATER golden days. They sound like archetypal Fugazi and then some here, with the Lally/Canty rhythm attack pummelling out a groove worthy of “Waiting Room” and the guitar section as post-punk scathing as ever. Still, the band proves it has grown since 1989, throwing enough range and subtlety into the song’s dynamic to incorporate, of all things, a cello. The band sounds as tight as a straight-jacket here, the tempo moderate enough to make it all seem sickeningly easy, but the high pressure atmosphere is inevitably explosive here as Ian MacKaye narrates a story of gross injustice. That being said, the song’s rallying cry – “Everybody Wants Somewhere!” – strikes me as less than customary. “Cashout” may be a sign that Fugazi was ready to leave behind the punk pulpit for greener pastures, their heroic days as soldiers of the counter-culture well past. As the song explodes into freakout mode during the coda, I can visualize the men of Fugazi bidding the world farewell. If that’s the case, what a way to go out.

Fugazi were mostly quiet this decade, releasing only 2001’s THE
ARGUMENT before going on indefinite hiatus in 2002. Whether or not
we’ll ever see more from the post-punk Fab Four is anybody’s guess,
but in particular the album highlight “Cashout” has left that
hunger in my belly. “Cashout” reigns supreme, even above the band’s
output in the 90’s, harkening back to the 13 SONGS/REPEATER golden
days. They sound like archetypal Fugazi and then some here, with
the Lally/Canty rhythm attack pummelling out a groove worthy of
“Waiting Room” and the guitar section as post-punk scathing as
ever. Still, the band proves it has grown since 1989, throwing
enough range and subtlety into the song’s dynamic to incorporate,
of all things, a cello. The band sounds as tight as a straight-
jacket here, the tempo moderate enough to make it all seem
sickeningly easy, but the high pressure atmosphere is inevitably
explosive here as Ian MacKaye narrates a story of gross injustice.
That being said, the song’s rallying cry – “Everybody Wants
Somewhere!” – strikes me as less than customary. “Cashout” may be a
sign that Fugazi was ready to leave behind the punk pulpit for
greener pastures, their heroic days as soldiers of the counter-
culture well past. As the song explodes into freakout mode during
the coda, I can visualize the men of Fugazi bidding the world
farewell. If that’s the case, what a way to go