Archive for the ‘Post Hardcore’ Category

Mall of America

Desaparecidos – Mall Of America

Regular readers will have noticed that I’ve got what could be described as a bit of thing for Conor Oberst. Behind Ben Gibbard, he’s probably my most mentioned musician (there’s an award the NME could give Pete Doherty most years).

Oddly though, it wasn’t through Bright Eyes, far and away the best known of his many projects and guises, that I first came to know of the multi-talented Omahan, but through his now all but forgotten teenage (even then) side project, Desaparecidos. Way back when in 2001, Oberst released their blistering and brilliant examination of consumption, commerce and morality, Read Music, Speak Spanish.

Named for the first two instructions on a list that Ernest Hemmingway made himself, it was essentially a concept album about how Omaha was changed by the arrival of chain stores and mega malls in the Nineties. The album is 10 tracks of raging post-hardcore interspersed with sampled interviews with airheads talking about shopping, men and their ambitions (or lack thereof). Mall of America is sub-Chomsky in its politics, but I’ll let that off for the brilliance of its music!

So I thought what better music to accompany the first image from a new project I have been trying to put together for the past few months, using images of Westfield shopping centre, edited to look like a model village. I won’t lie and say this is all my own idea, the inspiration is Sam O’Hare’s utterly stunning The Sandpit stop motion animation of New York City. I’m trying to recreate the look for a similar film (but much shorter and much much worse I’m sure). That work is long delayed, so I thought I’d use the above as a sneak preview and to try and spur myself into action! The effect is much more, um, effective if the image is enlarged, so please click through for a full-sized version.

Although the CD seems to have been discontinued, you can buy Read Music / Speak Spanish second-hand from Amazon here, or download it from Desaparecidos - Read Music / Speak Spanish

Repeater

RepeaterFugazi - Repeater

As far as I’m concerned, Fugazi are the coolest band in musical history. Formed from the embers of Minor Threat, Rites of Spring, and Embrace (not that one) in the late eighties, they redefined how independent music could be released, marketed and consumed, selling albums and concert tickets cheap enough for kids to afford, printing and designing their own flyers and album covers, running their own label and self-managing.

They built on the punk and indie ethos that had been nascent in the States since the late seventies, and took it to its outer limits, rejecting all outside interference with their music and managing to have  a hugely successful, massively influential, 15-year career into the bargain. And that’s without even talking about the songs.

Although both Embrace (still not that one), Ian Mackaye’s previous band, and Rites of Spring, Guy Picciotto’s former group, had introduced a new understanding of moderation into the relentless screaming wall of feedback and aggression produced by bands like Mackaye’s Minor Threat, Black Flag, and Minutemen, Fugazi were the first group to master the dynamics and pioneer an altogether new sound, emotional hardcore.

The quiet / loud dynamics, jangley guitar sound, throat tearing and heart renching vocals and feedback waves would go on to influence acts as diverse as Nirvana and the Dashboard Confessional, but few would attain the peaks of brilliance repeatedly reached by Fugazi during their 15-year existence, before they announced a seemingly permanent hiatus in 2002, ending their existence with a series of live shows each recorded for posterity – producing over 30 live cd-r albums.

Repeater was their first studio album, the title a play on words around the Beatles’ Revolver (records both revolve and repeat, and both revolver and repeater are terms for guns). The song itself is a an anti-violence peon (the band were known for stopping shows to eject, usually politely, violent slam dancers, believing the practice to be reactionary and macho) dressed up in the usual dynamism of both soft, loud, and start, stop. Something about the song swirls around you like smoke, cloaking you in a haze of motion and emotion, while all the time still seeming urgent and, ironically, almost aggressive.

The picture above is not of anyone from Fugazi, in fact it was taken at a Breakfast With Wolves gig last week – they’re an unsigned London band who produce a riotous, awkward, incredible racket, you can hear them here: Myspace. But I liked the picture enough to want to use it, and its hazy, blurred aggression made me think of Fugazi’s music, and the brilliant combination of swirling feedback and jagged guitars that characterise Repeater.

You can download or purchase all of Fugazi’s albums from their own record label, Dischord, here. You can also get them on iTunes and Amazon, but I expect they’d rather you bought them direct.

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shotwithsound

shotwithsound is a blog about the music I love, with occasional forays into my photography, and other things that catch my eye.

You can see more of my photography on my website www.nicstevenson.com.