on June 5, 2004
I consider this Fugazi's best, but then again what they've done in the past few albums is quite different. Today they've got going a more melodic, softer art-rock thing. Don't get me wrong, I do hold their latest works in very high esteem, they're just very different. With this album it's all about unbelievablu intense rhythms. Not simply fast tempo. But a lock-step between the bass and drums that could best be described as junglelike, seen at it's best on the title track. I heard it for the first time 11 years ago, and to this day the song 'Repeater' has got to be just about the sickest, most primal sounding thing I've ever heard. I can see some connections with the emo world in this release, the only thing is emo tends to be looked at as an emasculated form of music. This is anything but. Joe's voice does almost coin that style of singing, but in such a way that when everyone else sounds whiny, he projects power.
The first EPs showed the promise of this band to release a work like Repeater. IMO, the next release 'Steady Diet' was their low point, their most meandering and lacked focus in the songwriting - I'd call it their most blatantly emo. Killtaker captured some of the greatness of this disc (Smallpox Champion is my favorite Fugazi tune) and then they gravitated toward the current sound.
This band is also fantastic live... I wonder if they still work with every promotor to get it down to $5 at the door? You gotta account for inflation eventually.
on November 9, 2003
If I had to recommend a Fugazi album to someone I knew nothing about (like you, dear anonymous reader) I would say, "Get yourself some Repeater now." As a piece of art, this CD works wonders on many levels and keeps offering new experiences every time I listen to it. Even after over 13 years, these songs refuse to give up their relentless pursuit of meaning and declaration. Fugazi will meet you where you are, but soon take you somewhere entirely different. And when you get there, you will wonder how you ever went without it.
Fugazi's first full-length, Repeater was reissued as a CD with 3 bonus tracks from the Subpop singles club to make it Repeater + 3 songs. Right away, before I even listened to the thing, I was impressed with Dischord's marketing tactic--give the people more music than they expect. I like that. It shows confidence in the music and respect for the consumer, with just a slight touch of completism. (This tends to be a theme running throughout all Fugazi's work, in my opinion.)
Turnover begins inauspiciously enough. The quietest of feedback fades in and out, waiting for something to happen. This goes on for about 20 seconds, then the introductions quickly begin. Brendan Canty feathers his high-hat and brings bassist Joe Lally with him to groove along to the guitar work. It is that tight looseness that Fugazi may well have a patent on, and before you know it Ian MacKaye's guitar explodes and Guy Picciotto is rocking the mic. The rhymes are there. The pre-emo sighing in tune is there. The French lyrics are there.
And yes, even the Beatles reference is there. "I'm only sleeping," Picciotto insists. But where John Lennon started a revolution from his bed (in another firearm LP known as Revolver), Picciotto's character just wants to turnover and pretend that this is all a bad dream. And he notices similar laziness in his antagonist's tactics when he does confront him, "Lounge against your weapons until your muscles rot locked in the ease of that position." What to do, what to do, with all the troubles outside?
No pause before the next song. MacKaye's restless Repeater lyrics spare no mercy for the tired man in Turnover. "When I need something I reach out and grab it," he responds. And then the whole problem is revealed: "Did you hear something outside? It sounded like a gun. Stay away from that window. It's not anyone that We know only about ourselves and what we read in the papers." We just do not know how much is wrong with this situation, and that is okay, because we still have twelve songs left to go. The papers can wait.
The two instrumentals serve their purpose. They give you a mental rest from the lyrical hailstorm that is the backbone of the album. Brendan #1 and Joe #1 provide a bright spotlight on Fugazi's young rhythm section, but take on deeper significance when they're considered as precursors to the more effective instrumentals that grace In On the Kill Taker and Red Medicine.
If what you're looking for is the catchiest example of early Fugazi's fist-shaking, big-chorus singalongs, look no further than Merchandise. This is a classic. Lines like "We owe you nothing. You have no control," and "You are not what you own," cannot be bolded or underlined enough to accurately describe the impact they had on punk rock and do-it-yourself. And it's not just the words, though they are beautiful. It's the delivery. It's the spit coming through your speakers and it's the little vein that pops out of MacKaye's forehead whenever he catches someone moshing or crowd-surfing. And it's the "No, thank you," with which Fugazi has turned down every major label contract offered to them. Merchandise stands alone.
Shut the Door follows up on the story first introduced to us in Suggestion, 13 Songs' rape account as seen through the eyes of the victim. While Suggestion said, "We are all guilty," Shut the Door pins the blame back on the individual who broke the surface. It is this attacker who is so aware of nothing but himself, whose persona MacKaye takes on to dramatic effect. He uses contradictory lines like "I burn a fire to stay cool," and "I tie my arms to be free," to paint this picture of a lost man who has absolutely no clue what is happening or where he is. "She's not breathing! She's not coming back!" MacKaye screams out at the top of his lungs as he fails to understand what he has done. The whole world collapses into a tiny room as the band dies down and MacKaye futilely begs someone to "shut the door so I can leave." The door remains open and what we see inside is terrifying, sad, and real. Where do we go from here? Is there any way out of this mess? Fugazi leaves these questions to their later albums, but the next step is hinted at in the first bonus track...
Song #1 is about many things. It has one of those all-purpose themes that just say, "Life is what you want it to be. Don't get tangled up trying to be free and don't worry what the other people see. It's nothing." And the word nothing is stretched out and played with to the point where nothing sounds like it could be something, but that is just to draw attention to how big nothing is. The point is that it is still nothing, really.
Repeater, as a whole, has its fair share of straightforward messages to offer on an initial surface listen. No Argument there. But give it just three spins, and you will discover much more than angry youth slogans and punk rock guitar octaves. You will find an enjoyable listening experience to last years.
on January 2, 2003
In my humble opinion "Repeater" is the best album Fugazi has ever made. Not only is it my favorite Fugazi album, it's one of my favorite albums of all time. It retains all the energy of the first 2 EP's (13 Songs) while evolving and exploring so many sounds and ideas. From the beginning of the album ("Turnover") until the end ("Shut The Door") it never has a weak moment. "Turnover" begins with the guitar volume swelling on the 12th fret and then has an amazing up and down musical structure as well as amazing lyricism from Guy Piccioto (who at this point was now singing, playing guitar and writing lyrics as well as Ian MacKaye). The title track "Repeater" is a huge burst of energy and emotional feedback as well as having a guitar riff in the chorus that only Fugazi could create. These are only the first two songs! This album changed the way I listen to music and really speaks to me on multiple levels. This album also would begin the amazing artistry and progression that Fugazi would carry on to their future albums. Remeber though, everything was born here on Repeater.
on June 26, 2002
What can one say about Fugazi? [cheap] CD's, [cheap] shows, no merchandise, no B.S. It really is all about the music. This CD is, in my opinion, their best. It is a hybrid of their early more punk sounding music and their newer experimental and melodic sound. This is the perfect introduction to real music.
Some of my favorite songs...
"Turnover" - This song almost sounds like early AC/DC, minus the pointless lyrics about sex.
"Repeater" - One of the more experimental tracks with a chorus that will get stuck in your head.
"Brendan #1" - Another great Fugazi instrumental
"Merchandise" - Remember that whole no merchandise thing? Wanna know why? Listen.
"Blueprint" - This might be the most popular Fugazi song. I saw them live and the crowd went crazy when Ian started playing the intro. "Nevermind what they're selling, it's what you're buying...you are not what you own."
"Shut the Door" - has some almost Hendrix sounding guitar work, with whispered vocals. Then the power chords kick in and along comes the screaming. Haunting track.
"Song #1" - Are they rapping? This sounds like the Beastie Boys. But that's not neccesarily a bad thing.
"Joe #1" - Another instrumental, my favorite. Awesome bass line.
"Break In" - The closing song, an ode to their early punk days.
on March 13, 2002
I look at the face of music today and am saddened by mall-walking pretty-boys posing as punk and suburban no-talents acting as if they can pull off being 'hardcore'. There is less and less experimentation and more and more similarities in bands. And worse enough, many of todays decent underground bands are selling there souls to corporate america, so they can earn money, and be happy. Thankfully Fugazi runs strong today as they did 12 years ago when this album was released. This album changed everything in the punk landscape. There didn't have to be crude humour, in your face antics, or fast dirty paces that were near inaudible. Slowed down and clear, Repeater saved punk and brought about (sigh) 'emo'. 'Turnover', 'Sieve Fisted Find', 'Merchandise', 'Repeater, 'Greed', all the songs are anthems that are brutally honest and refreshingly catchy (at times). My wish is that a kid puts down the Sum 41 cd, walks out of the Best Buy, and goes to his local independent record store and buys a copy of Fugazi's Repeater.
on March 12, 2000
In the Amazon.com world, 4 and 5 stars come easy. But, in the real world, it has hard to pick the albums that fall into the top 20 percent ever made. I am no professional music critic, but I am a professional musician - both jazz guitar and punk rock - who spends a considerable amount of effort on researching and carefully listening to a wide variety of music (Bach to schoenberg, diz to dolphy, presley to costello, kinks to superchunk). Repeater, over and over again, tops the list. It is an album full of melodic anthems, all of them punchy, none of them cliched. The sincerity, self-reflection and complexity revealed in the music and lyrics shows a group of men who are at the height of their song-writing and performing powers. The cultural commentary, which sometimes includes criticisms levelled at their own persons, fits well with the angry but controlled intensity that permeates each song. The album has tunes that you will be humming for days and lyrics you will be quoting. It is an anthem for those who feel distant from the coroporate hoo-haw thrown at us daily, it is a blueprint for how to mix your sense of alienation with constructive music making and it is an inspiration for all musicians who wish to write music that is both compelling and relevant. The raw production does not hide anything and hence makes one feel that the band is playing right in front of them. Overall, this album is phenomenal, without a bad song and without a misstep.
on February 15, 2000
you said it all yourself, listen to the bands they influenced. fugazi are important precisely because they have influenced so many bands, be they indie or emo or punk or alternative or whatever you want to call it. it's easy to hear a lot of bands that sound like this today, but 10 years ago when this cd came out? i also strongly urge you to check out their later albums, especially "red medicine", fugazi just keep getting better with age.
but why is this a good album? there are so many reasons. the songwriting never ceases to amaze me every time i listen to this album. the foundation of all the songs is the absolutely rock solid rhythm section. joe and brendan are one of the best rhythm sections of the past decade. from the opening track, turnover, they lay down a groove so tight it grabs you and won't let go. and the guitars...they're simply amazing! listen to the squealing line at the beginning of reapeater, or the way ian and guy interweave their lines in shut the door, both with each other and with the bassline. this album contains so many hidden facets and subtleties i find something new each time i listen to it...
on July 23, 2000
Fugazi founder Ian McKaye, has already become a mythical hero of sorts for his work with Minor Threat, the DC hardcore band that started the Straight Edge movement two decades ago. While that was important music, it isn't nearly as great as the material on Fugazi's album Repeater. And Fugazi's influence has been at least as broad and far reaching as that of McKaye's earlier band. At a recent concert of the Sublime leftovers, Long Beach Dub Allstars, I was surprised to hear the guitarist yell out that their next song was dedicated to one of their big influences, Fugazi. I wondered what this raucus ska/reggae/dub band could possibly have take from the DC Hardcore band who's members had railed against substance abuse. Then I realized the answer: Fugazi's music and message is so powerful that it's influence crosses all genres and lifestyles. Repeater is, in my opinion the best Fugazi album ever and one of the best albums ever.
on September 18, 2002
i know this has been said a zillion times, but Fugazi is one of the most talented bands ever. when i first got this album, i wasn't that impressed-- i was expecting another Minor Threat. instead, i found a more mature, artistic band who really know how to rock. but it very quickly grew on me and now i can't live without it. my favorite songs:
"Turnover" - a classic. very melodic.
"Merchandise" - Fugazi ideology in a nutshell.
"Styrofoam" - very catchy. great tune.
"Shut The Door" - i never really liked this song, until recently at 3 a.m. i awoke and had this song running through my head. now, i love it.
"Song #1" - this one would probably do pretty good on the charts; i think it has a more mainstream sound. an excellent message too.
"Break-In" - one word: punk.
The album is great from start to finish. Hope to see Fugazi continue to produce great music such as this for years to come.
on October 29, 2003
Another of those deeply influential bands & Albums, that was embraced by anyone that listened to it, with lyrics that although angry & confrontational, aren't yelled at the listener lines such as "When I need something, I reach out and grab it!!," and "You are not what you own!!," enforce the points effectively, but most people also forget that this also one of the great guitar records of the 90's.....wait around 2 minutes into "Merchandise" for an anthemic guitar explosions that easily impresses, with its skilful rhythmic interjection are instantly memorable,and the rousing "Sieve-Fisted Find" show that Fugazi can mix serious lyrical content with aggressive rhythmic sections and still sound completely Relevant. In fact the only real criticism (and this isn't really a criticism of the album), is that It remained (mostly) the preserve of the Indie Crowd.