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4.3 out of 5 stars21
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on August 1, 1998
If Ian MacKaye hadn't been in Minor Threat as a teenager, no one would ever compare Fugazi to punk or protest rock. Not that there's anything wrong with those things -- I just see deeper art in _Steady Diet_ than MacKaye's old anti-drug routine. Minor Threat was fast, in-your-face, and frankly a little obvious. Fugazi is mid-tempo, jazzy, and complex. Their songs take several listens to appreciate, but the result is much more haunting.
Perhaps that's why this album's single, "Reclamation," failed to impress me; the trite political message ("We want control of our bodies") is beneath MacKaye's considerable lyrical power. On the other hand, "Stacks" and "Dear Justice Letter" have subtle rhythms and messages that take half a song to kick in, but kick in they do. As for catchy, give "Exit Only," "Runaway Return," and "KYEO" a chance, and they'll stay with you much longer than the latest teeny-bopper MTV! hit. Finally, the instrumental title track is the album's centerpiece, showing off the band's innovative rhythm section and offbeat guitar noise.
Fugazi is famous for their anti-corporate policies, but this album blows away all of the silly pop-punk that most people associate with indie purism. All of the parts fit together, and Ian MacKaye seems to have the Lou Reed License (the license that a musical genius gets to excuse his lack of singing ability). No other band could have so much talent and integrity without seeming pretentious -- and this album has aged well, unlike most rock from 1991 (play some old Nirvana songs to see what I mean). So if you want to hear which "alternative" band *should* have defined the early nineties, look no further -- just don't sell it short by calling it protest music.
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on May 22, 2003
This album strikes you immediately because, as others have pointed out, the production is different from their previous (and subsequent) releases. Basically, this is a Fugazi that has matured. The distortion is less a visceral, more refined texture, and the mix is more even (compared to the guitar dominated Killtaker and Repeater). Even the songwriting is restrained, focused and direct. The centerpiece of the album (and one of the best tracks) is the eponymous instrumental, track 6. When you're a band with two of the best rock vocalists of all-time, and the best track on your latest album is *instrumental,* you know you're a great band...
The first thing I thought when I heard this was, "Wow, Fugazi's grown up since Repeater," which is a good thing, even though Repeater is amazing (of course) and being loud and raw is a good thing, too. But fear not, there's always Killtaker to make sure the raw thing is taken care of...
This album represents Fugazi finding themselves in the recording studio (another good thing), because from here on, they wouldn't just be hitting "record" and then start playing. They were working *in* the studio. People have criticized this album for being less intense or emotional than the others, or the sound being "weaker," but none of these is true. When your only way to convey depth or meaning is through volume, then you are limited, and thankfully Fugazi is certainly not limited in this way. To think that they progressed to this only a year or two after their breakthrough album Repeater is quite impressive.
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on January 18, 2000
Maybe not their best, but solid. Either you like Fugazi's sound or you don't in my opinion. I would not trust someone who suggested Ted Nugent over Fugazi, or even made a compairison for that matter. Period (see next review). A CD would have to be pretty bad to honestly receive only 1 star. THis is 4 star material all the way. Try repeater if you don't have anything else.
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on February 12, 2002
This was the first Fugazi record I bought as it came out and I remember being excited and blown away. Fugazi have always made records that rock, have hooks and are still complex enough to reveal new things with each listen, and this record is no exception. This record was about as advanced as I got in 8th grade but I still listen to it. My favorite songs are "Exit Only" "Steady Diet" "Long Division" "Runaway Return" "Polish" and "KYEO." Ranks as one of the best Dischord releases ever.
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on May 10, 1999
This is my favorite Fugazi record. While Ian Mackaye's songs bring the record down, Guy Picciotto delivers his best songs ever here. "Nice New Outfit," "Exit Only," and "Latin Roots" are all fist-shakers, and if you can listen to "Runaway Return" without proclaiming it an anthem, then you would do well to invest in Q-Tips.
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on October 30, 2007
Fugazi's fourth release, "Steady Diet of Nothing," may still be my favorite. Each Fugazi album has a different flavor but without "Red Medicine" there would be no "End Hits" (somehow when "End Hits" came out it made "Red Medicine" make sense to me - gave it a context). With this album, Fugazi, never ones to repeat themselves, explore a darker, more introspective territory than previous efforts, building on the stylings of songs like "Shut the Door". In my opinion, this is the most satisfying and well-rounded set of songs they ever put out. It's not necessarily instantly appreciable, but it stands up to repeated listens. The production sounds less glitzy than "Repeater" or "In On The Kill Taker" but it really suits the songs, which are all as powerful and varied as anything they've done. "Long Division" has my favorite bass line, "Exit Only" is my favorite opening track, "Steady Diet" is my favorite instrumental, the climaxes of "Reclamation", "KYEO" and "Latin Roots" still knock me out, awesome lyrics and vocal performances as usual and so on. In my opinion this album is their best and listening to it always make me wonder how the hell they did it. Also, Brendan Canty is in my list of top ten rock and roll drummers.
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on January 2, 2003
The songs on this album are very good and are intresting and engaging. Yet for some reason I can't completely get into it. The production (the first time the band produced an album themselves) is lacking. The production takes away from the songs and the album as a whole. Fugazi (both on record and live) have an amazing guitar sound and a thick, intricate, tight rhythm section. But here the guitars sound very weak and the drums and bass sound a little artificial. This type of extremly sterile production suits songs like "Long Division" which is softer but take away from songs "Reclamation" and "Nice New Outfit" which have a more live feel to them. The songs on this album are very good but because of the production I can't give it a 5.
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on May 31, 2002
Long division contains the best bass line in rock ever! (Well, along with Waiting Room.) Don't miss it.
On the whole, though, the album is of a slower pace, although no less agressive, than all other albums - beware if you are new to Fugazi.
Miss UK
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on August 27, 2009
To me 1991's follow up to 1990's Repeater was an excellent one. It seems as though the foursome homed their craft even more so- taking their brand of reggae influenced "post punk" and adding more color to the palate. The results are indescribable. One thing about Fugazi is not only do they make music that sometimes has an anthem like feel to it (ie. "Long Division") but also makes things uncomfortable to the listener- not so easy to digest and safe sounding as other bands often did by the peak of their careers. Fugazi instead- made a bit of challenging sounding music- that was often immitated by later "grunge" bands of the early 90's. The sonic dissonance of the instrumental number "steady diet" should be an indicator of that. Perhaps one of the most memorable tracks to mind's eye is a song called "stack" which has not only some interesting cross-rhythms and a chorus that's catchy and obtuse with lines such as "Language keeps me Locked and Repeating" and during the verse Mackaye screams out "America is just a word, but I use it"- there's plenty of lines like this that are open to interpretation that perhaps wasn't true of Mackaye's early 80's band Minor Threat- which was very direct and to the point. Fugazi- both musically and lyrically is more about sonic and verbal abstractions. In a way- the fact that the lyrics aren't telling you what to think make them that much more potent and relavant than any Minor Threat lyric ever did. Just my opinion. Definitly recommended but not for the faint of heart...
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on April 18, 2004
My opinion of this Album may be colored by the fact that it was the first one i got by the band in question. First impressions and all. I think is their high-water mark, their best score... But...
Here's a way of handling this quandary, or illustrating my take on it- I have burned a two CD set of Fugazi tunes- a running/lifting/driving set, my fave songs from their (currently)8 running CDs. Not one song from 'Steady Diet,' is included...
I think this one stands by its own virtues. And I don't like the way the songs go when they're removed from the context of the album- everything just flows together- drives into each other. A perfect album. So perfect in fact, that removing songs to other contexts (a running mix) makes them weaker. Perhaps that actually works against these songs- the album is so strong on its own virtues, it makes the songs less effective, song for song, pound for pound...
Every other Fugazi album has a number of great tunes, usually 3-5 per album, and some good ones and a couple filler tracks ('In on the Kill Taker' being a notable exception- beyond the first two incredible and incendiary songs the album is nigh-unlistenable). But 'Steady Diet,' is just a phenomenally badass work that not only pushes through the limits of the genre- it's a damn fine rock album in and of itself.
All just my opinion. But if you're looking for a good jumping in point for Fugazi- this was mine and i haven't regretted one damn second!
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