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****
Fugazi
The Argument
Dischord
The last real punk rockers?
 
Those who refuse to learn from rock history are doomed to watch its repetition in kinky fadform, its intentions misunderstood and its inheritors mutilated beyond recognition. So little wonder that D.C.'s hardcore muse and former minuteman Ian MacKaye bears the punk rock torch with sometimes missionary zeal. The Argument Fugazi's eighth album, is a bracing corrective to the misconception of punks original intent. Point one: Punk"anarchy" since dismissed as chaotic nihilism, is a reasonable and relevant response to greed-driven municipal destruction ("Cashout," Strangelight") and malign neglect of citizenry ("Argument," "Oh"). Point two: the do-it-yourself ethos that fetishises instrumental cacophony and vocal intensity is not a function of anger or a form of anti-music but an aural manifestation of direct, humanistic exspression ("Full Disclosure," "Epic Problem"). Point three: Melodicism isn't counter revolutionary, pop triviality is ("Life and Limb"). And in every skewed guitar note and crackling drum beat, every cello stroke and modulation of MacKaye's maleable voice there's passion for rigor- intellectual, political and musical. That's point four: Control isn't weakness if it's in service of the message. Melancholy and scabrous, this is an argument made through music, subtly rewriting punk's rewritten history. -Arion Berger
Rolling Stone Magazine

Social   Distortion                                                                                                 White Light White Heat White Trash. Anyone got a problem with that?

It takes a worried man to sing a worried song, and Social Distortion's Mike Ness a working-class tough guy with a past that includes heroin addiction, alcoholism and jail time is one haunted fucker. Singing in a compassionate growl that fuses pain, anger, shame and courage, he's chased by memories he can't outrun. "I've looked the devil in the face," the singer and guitarist declares in "Through These Eyes," from Social Distortion's sixth album, White Light White Heat White Trash. Anyone got a problem with that?

Since the early '80s, the Southern California quartet has been seething along a lost highway that connects the hard-travelin' country music of Johnny Cash with the punk aggression of Clash city rock. With Social Distortion's music now distilled beyond any point of derivation, the band clears its own path like an unstoppable earthmover, pushing dense walls of electric rhythm guitar through the night. The onslaught of lapidarist grit doesn't color the mid-tempo songs many different hues, but it does propel Ness' hardy melodies and lyrics of harsh, invasive self-examination with implacable force.

"It was me against the world, I was sure that I'd win/The world fought back, punished me for my sins," Ness admits on "I Was Wrong," a sing-along act of contrition that turns the self-righteousness of alternative alienation on its pointy little head. The related "Pleasure Seeker" condemns the wanton pursuit of fun with a crude but effective biblical belt: "Play the games, don't feel no shame/That's what Eve said to Adam before she came."

Social Distortion will never win any prizes for modernism the CD's unlisted bonus track is an industrial-strength cover of the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb" but the band's musical and emotional values are timeless. Like a fist in the face, White Light White Heat White Trash is simple and effective.  R.A. ROBBINS

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