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Embrace - Embrace (Cover Artwork)

Embrace

Embrace: EmbraceEmbrace (1987)
Dischord Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: HamishHamish
(others by this writer | submit your own)

This is another of those albums that I kept putting off buying. Minor Threat and Fugazi are two of my all time favorite bands, but I guess I was a little nervous that this would not live up to those two bands (Embrace was Ian MacKaye's band in-between Minor Threat and Fugazi). Like it would be par.
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This is another of those albums that I kept putting off buying. Minor Threat and Fugazi are two of my all time favorite bands, but I guess I was a little nervous that this would not live up to those two bands (Embrace was Ian MacKaye's band in-between Minor Threat and Fugazi). Like it would be part Minor Threat, part Fugazi, but not nearly as good as either. Wrong again. This album floored me.

Embrace was made up of Ian MacKaye (who was previously the bassist of the Teen Idles, the singer of Minor Threat and Skewbald/Grand Union, did side projects in Egg Hunt and Pailhead and now plays guitar and sings half the songs in Fugazi and also co-owns Dischord Records) and three of the five members of Faith: Michael Hampton (previously of SOA, Faith and Skewbald/Grand Union and later of One Last Wish) on guitar, Ivor Hanson (previously of Faith) on drums and Chris Bald (previously of Faith and later of Ignition) on bass. Faith was another of those early Dischord hardcore bands and featured Alec MacKaye (Ian's brother) on vocals, who is, contrary to popular belief, the guy on the cover of Minor Threat's complete discography. They called in quits in '83 and Ian recruited three of the members to form Embrace in '85. Embrace only lasted a year, but they recorded this excellent album before they fell apart, which was not actually released until '87 and was recently remastered and re-issued with two bonus tracks. I've never heard the original issue, so I don't know if it sounds any better, but the bonus tracks are cool, even if they're just alternate version of songs already on here.

I'm a tad biased towards anything Ian does, seeing as how he single handedly changed the way I view music, but that's a story for another time. The point here is that this album is fabulous. If you're expecting fast and furious old school hardcore ala Minor Threat or more abstract post-hardcore ala Fugazi, you're going to be disappointed. What we have here is some mid-tempo punkish rock, but with a twist. Michael Hampton's guitar work really gives this album a unique sound. Refusing to stick to simple power chords, he instead concentrates of coming with much more unorthodox and much more creative melodies. The only down side to this is that you tend to not really notice them at first, due to the fact that they're somewhat low in the mix and sometimes you don't even notice that they're there. But if you listen closely, you'll find some really interesting stuff going on. The drums move along nicely enough with some cool fills and the bass work is a lot more complicated and interesting than you're going to hear in the average punk/hardcore record and it never falls into the easy trap of just playing the same thing as the guitar. The song here are incredibly catchy, but not in the typical way. The hooks aren't incredibly obvious, they're far more subtle and so you don't hear them at first. But after a few listens, you become addicted and realize just how clever and catchy the songs are. Not to mention just how fun it is to sing along to.

The real star of the album, however, is Ian. This is, in my opinion, his best vocal performance. The passion and power in his voice is simply undeniable. What he lacks in conventional singing ability, he makes up for in pure emotion. And I'm not talking about the cheesy, overdone emotion that everyone is going apeshit for nowadays, I'm talking about genuine, heartfelt feelings. Instead of just staying in one mood, he alternates, sometimes yelling, sometimes sounding on the verge of sobs, sometimes sounding much more confident and occasionally using that sarcastic talking that we all love so much, and it's all so genuine! And the lyrics are some of his best, from his self doubt in "Dance of Days" (I bitch at my anger but he don't want to fight/I turned to my conscience, you know he just thinks I'm right/my insecurities, they got nothing to hide/my emotions are my enemies for being on my side) to his pleas for change in "No More Pain" (No more number 1, we've got to quit that game/no more attitude, give it back to the TV set/no more tough stance, I hear your mommy call/no more suicide, it kills everyone/no more petty love, no more petty hate, no more pettiness, no more pain), there's a lot you can learn from this album.

I know a lot of people credit Embrace for starting a certain sub-genre that everyone's talking about, and I'm sure a lot of people will love to argue about that, but why? Instead of concentrating on what Embrace did or didn't start, let's concentrate on the music, which is fabulous. I know people on this site tend to hand out 5 stars and 4 and half stars like they're nothing, but I think they should be reserved for only the best albums. I'm not giving this four and a half stars out lightly, this album deserves it. For anyone who is a fan of Minor Threat and Fugazi (though don't expect something that sounds like either of those bands), the "Dischord sound" or classic 80s punk/hardcore in general, this album is essential. I can't recommend it enough.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Minor Threat - Complete DiscographyJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyFugazi - The ArgumentFugazi - 13 SongsOperation Ivy - Operation IvyJawbreaker - Dear YouRites of Spring - End on EndThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Clash - London CallingJawbreaker - Bivouac

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
fugazifreak (March 4, 2007)

I'm sorry, but if you don't like the Sex Pistols, you have no place on this site. Whether you love their music or hate it, you gotta at least respect them. And yeah, Black Flag sucked compared to them. I don't know what drugs you're on, but don't make suck ignorant comments. You probably don't even know what Black Flag means... If it weren't for the Pistols, there would be NO Clash, NO Black Flag, and NO Minor Threat! The Sex Pistols started political punk, nobody else. They were the first to sing about anarchy, even if they did take it for the joke it was. I can gurantee you that you won't hear Rollins or Bad Religion or NoFx or any other members of a good punk band diss the Sex Pistols. They weren't a boy band, like you want to believe, and their manager did not have anything to do with their music besides the fact that he got them rehearsel space. Of course, if you think the Sex Pistls were fake, then Black Flag must be N Sync and the Clash are the Spice Girls. And do you know what Black Flag means? Its the symbol for anarchy. Do you know who started the relationship between anarchy and punk? The Sex Pistols. Sorry, buddy, but you really have alot to learn before you blabber about how FUGAZI are better than the Velvet Underground... You, sir, are an idiot.

The Sex Pistols did not start anarchy that was Crass
The Sex Pistols where fakes thye where put together because they had a punk image
How are Black Flag even anarchists

fugazifreak (March 4, 2007)

This is emo not watered down MTV pop that gets called emo

smelltheglove (February 8, 2007)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbdh0Qm_5A0

Ian Mackaye is awesome. This vid proves it.

tapemarks_and_brakelights (July 21, 2006)

one of the best albums ever.

tapemarks_and_brakelights (July 21, 2006)

one of the best albums ever.

bobbett (December 23, 2005)

i got into this via lifetime's cover of "money" on one of their seven inches. sooo good.

Anonymous (September 25, 2005)

This album is just nearly as perfect. I think that if we want to make really Embrace justice, we must think of the time when this album was released. At that point there were a lot of good good hardcore bands in the scene, but the truth is that they all sounded kinda the same, more or less. This album came with a breath of fresh air, mixing hardcore/punk and some pop stuff in a perfect way... And I think that NO band could do this again, not before or after this record. Besides all this, this release served as an huge and important influence for a new shape of punk that came after, that thing that everybody now calls "emo", in wich some real emo bands that sounds good (four hundred years, crush my calm, drive like jehu, etc etc) took off mostly from this record. This is a must have if you are/were into punk OR independent music. This is also an important simbol of independent music. I'd like to add a coment: we all know that the sex pistols were the backstreet boys of the late 70. I mean, they came with something "oh so new oh so rad" (that would be the punk movement) to the mainstream but we all know punk started to exist in a more "real" way much before the sex pistols, the only thing they did was making it "famous" worldwide. And Black Flag was also an important punk band, wether you people like it or not, you can't deny that they were important for the punk scene. I particullary think they were great. But not as great as the Minutemen. The Minutemen were the first real independent band, and the things the did with music were just amazing and still I could hear a band that even compare to them. Go you all and worship the Minutemen right now. Hehe.

Anonymous (February 25, 2004)

Does any one know what the art work is all about???

Anonymous (February 25, 2004)

having read through all these crap comments made by people it seems that people do like the band but its just one self rightous tit ruining it, if you dont like it GO AWAY and let us talk in peace!!!. embrace are a top band in my veiw and hadnt heard them and found out that Ian sang so bought it tottaly oblivous to what was on it. What a suprise. complex punk when hardcore was basicly about being stupid. Fuagazi rock, Rite of spring rock and minor threat rock.

Anonymous (January 24, 2003)

I love the Pistols, but you cant get too hung up on a band that only made one album. Black Flag are good too. Why cant we all get along? Remember, as Sham 69 said:

IF THE KIDS ARE UNITED, THEY'LL NEVER BE DIVIDED!

Anonymous (January 24, 2003)

I guess I could admit that the Sex Pistols were far more "popular" than Black Flag, but no group had a greater impact on the independent US music scene than Black Flag and their ceaseless touring, how many bands (both hugely popular and relatively unknown) can I name that take Black Flag as a huge influence? About 100. And Fugazi is the MEANING of indie labels. They recently passed up a several million doller contract with Dreamworks and politely told them to "lose their number". The Sex Pistols WERE on a major...weren't they!? Yes, not that it really matters, but you seem to think it does. Not you Waste, but the other guy. Anyway, I'm sick of this stupid argument...if that guy like the Pistols a lot then fine, but don't talk shit when you can't back it up.

waste_elite (January 23, 2003)

these comments are funny. the sex pistols were far more influential and vital than black flag, but black flag was simply a better, more creative band. there's my 2 cents.

"The real punk is in the scene, not major record labels."

well, i'm not really sure what that means as minor threat, fugazi, black flag and all the other hardcore bands WEREN'T on major record labels. in fact, the entirety of those punk/DIY ethics most of you hold so dearly, were born from the american hardcore scene.

"Waste was quoted as saying that the 80s was the best era of the underground scene... Fucking idiotic... I'd say that all the 80s meant was crappy music and shitty hardcore..."

ooo, i'm quoted now, cool. i would say the 80's was easily the greatest era for underground music. i'm very curious to hear what you think is good music, it seems like you hate everything.

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

I think you're the only one sucking anyone's nuts.

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

lame

boring

a record made by two okay bands... nothing great. fugazi sucks my hairy nuts.

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

I meant *are GREAT music

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

I'd say "Raw Crap" would be "bands" like ANL, The Exploited, Simple Plan, New Found Glory, Poison, Venom, Lynrd Skynrd, Limp Biscuit, Disturbed, Kid Rock, Motley Crue, etc. etc. I mean, none of those bands are creative, exciting or talented.....just pathetic. All from different eras and genres, but all shitty. Black Flag and Minor Threat and GREAT music.

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

You my friend....are a total idiot. Black Flag same as sex pistols? ha! There's a difference...one was creative, intense and had talent.....the sex pistols were boring, fake and wannabe nazi pigs. I didn't see anyone in Black Flag running around wearing a swastikas.

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

Hardcore is the truest form of raw crap. Black Flag sucks. Just as lame as Sex Pistols.

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

That guy probably listens to some shitty over-produced crap.

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

To the idiot 2 below......hardcore is the truest form of raw expression. Ginn was great in his own way and Black Flag would destroy any band live. Fugazi isn't hardcore, but it's purely amazing and still is. I'd like to hear what shit you listen to. HA!

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

Wow...so it's the symbol of anarchy...do you think that the Pistols created anarchy?! no they didn't dumbass. I think a band like Black Flag could have used an anarchic symbol if they wanted to, it has nothing to do with the sex pistols, it has to do with anarchy. And Black Flag represented far more a threat to the status quo than the Pistols ever did.

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

Hardcore sucks.
Black Flag sucks.
the Fashion Pistols suck.
Fugazi sucks.
Minor Threat sucks.
You all suck.

The real punk is in the scene, not major record labels. And uhhh... On a side note, Ginn couldn't play worth shit either... Posers. Waste was quoted as saying that the 80s was the best era of the underground scene... Fucking idiotic... I'd say that all the 80s meant was crappy music and shitty hardcore...

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

Too bad the Black Flag is the symbol for Anarchy... oh well... I guess Rollins is really stupid.

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

Rollins disses The Pistols all the time, in Get In The Van, on VH1, in interviews. Bad Religion never said the Pistols influenced them, Greg Graffin always says that the Ramones did. Greg Ginn always said he thought the Pistols were lame. Ian MacKaye has NEVER siad they influenced him.

waste_elite (January 23, 2003)

you sir, need to refrain from saying you sir...

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

hahahahahaha....you're really funny kid. Black Flag made the sex pistols look like the posers that they were. I mean, look at them.....they played terribly, johnny rotten was too drugged up and drunk to be a threat and their songs had no backing.....they were phonies. I mean......you can hold on to your little sex pistols obsession, but they sucked. Sorry. Sid Vicious couldn't play, Jonny boy couldn't sing. They WEREN'T the "first" punk rock band, so I can be on this site if I want to. If minor threat was around at the time of the pistols they would have made them look hilarious when onstage. The Clash and The Damned were 2 english bands that made the pistols look pathetic. The Stooges and MC5 created energetic, intense punk rock. Don't freak ot on me because your childhood heroes the pistols are phony kiddie. Go back to school and get off your mommies computer.

Anonymous (January 23, 2003)

I'm sorry, but if you don't like the Sex Pistols, you have no place on this site. Whether you love their music or hate it, you gotta at least respect them. And yeah, Black Flag sucked compared to them. I don't know what drugs you're on, but don't make suck ignorant comments. You probably don't even know what Black Flag means... If it weren't for the Pistols, there would be NO Clash, NO Black Flag, and NO Minor Threat! The Sex Pistols started political punk, nobody else. They were the first to sing about anarchy, even if they did take it for the joke it was. I can gurantee you that you won't hear Rollins or Bad Religion or NoFx or any other members of a good punk band diss the Sex Pistols. They weren't a boy band, like you want to believe, and their manager did not have anything to do with their music besides the fact that he got them rehearsel space. Of course, if you think the Sex Pistls were fake, then Black Flag must be N Sync and the Clash are the Spice Girls. And do you know what Black Flag means? Its the symbol for anarchy. Do you know who started the relationship between anarchy and punk? The Sex Pistols. Sorry, buddy, but you really have alot to learn before you blabber about how FUGAZI are better than the Velvet Underground... You, sir, are an idiot.

Anonymous (January 22, 2003)

"not even as good as thee sex pistols"...what fucking drugs are u on....the pistols suck. like a wannabe hardcore blink 182. pathetic. Minor Threat rocked, fugazi rocked, black flag rocked, the clash rocked, sex pistols did not!

Anonymous (January 22, 2003)

"The velvet underground were great, but Fugazi is easily on level with them"

My friend, your ignorance shines though with that quote alone... The Velvet Underground= GENIUS. Fugazi= okay music, not even as good as the Sex Pistols.

Anonymous (January 22, 2003)

The guy below me is an idiot... Wouldn't know punk if it hit him in the face, and wouldn't know good music if it gave him a BJ. You can ask anybody that knows anything how the Clash started, and they'll say that they saw the Sex Pistols live and wanted to start their own band. Of course, little suburban fashion wimps dont know that the Pistols were the first political punk band, and MUCH better than Minor Threat... Oh my god, that was just such a funny post. This site is called punknews.org, and little children feel compelled to make fun of the first UK Punk band... Losers.

Anonymous (January 22, 2003)

Fugazi "SUCK" in comparison to the Sex Pistols?! HAHAHAHA! The Sex Pistols wouldn't know talent if it slapped them in the face, lowsy wannabe nazi fashion out of shape pasty wannabe punker bitches. The sex pistols were big conformists. They would sing about anarchy but would kiss anyone's ass they could......if you want a band that REALLY went against the grain, go listen to Black Flag or Dead Kennedys....now those bands never gave in AND they were very talented, unlike the Sex Pistols...plus they put on a better live show.
the clash were better than the pistols, the damned were better, minor threat were better, fugazi was and IS better, ramones were better. I mean, shit. The velvet underground were great, but Fugazi is easily on level with them.....and still exists.

waste_elite (January 21, 2003)

i hate all of you

Anonymous (January 21, 2003)

Fugazi... Better than the Velvet Underground? You, sir, are ignorant.

Anonymous (January 21, 2003)

As you would say, "damn man". You have horrible taste... Or maybe you're just a really boring person... Either way, Fugazi and Minor Threat suck compared to the Sex Pistols and those other bands... Half of which you've never heard of. Please proceed to climb out of your mom's pussy and get some musical taste...

Anonymous (January 21, 2003)

Sorry PAL, but not only do Minor Threat and Fugazi BLOW those bands away.....but Sex Pistols, Rancid, and Op Ivy don't EVEN COME CLOSE TO COMPARISON to Minor Threat or Fugazi. I'd say the Clash is on equal level with them. Damn, man.

Anonymous (January 20, 2003)

"I'd like to hear what crap you like."

Okay: Early Public Image Limited, the Velvet Underground, the Upsetters, the Slackers, Rancid, Op Ivy, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Specials, the Wailers, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, CRASS, Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, Johnny Thunders, X-Ray Spex, the Embarrassment, MC 5, the New York Dolls, Television, the Dead Boys, and many others. Oh, I love name dropping. You asked for it, ass hole!

Anonymous (January 20, 2003)

haha..shitty and over hyped? Please kill yourself. I'd like to hear what crap you like. Fugazi is amazing, purely genius. Everyhting they do is mindblowing. Minor Threat took hardcore to a new level lyrically and offered up intensity only seen by a few other bands (namely Black Flag)

Anonymous (January 20, 2003)

Yeah, those two bands are great... if "great" means shitty and over-hyped...

Anonymous (January 20, 2003)

What made Minor Threat so great was it's relatively positive message and it's near hardcore perfection. Fugazi is wonderful because it is basically mind blowing and original.

Anonymous (January 20, 2003)

uh....no

Anonymous (January 20, 2003)

minor threat and fugazi suck compared to almost anything Scratch Perry produced... DUB TIL YA DIE!!!

waste_elite (January 19, 2003)

i'll have to agree with that

Anonymous (January 19, 2003)

Minor Threat And Fugazi ARE 2 of the all time greatest bands.

Anonymous (January 19, 2003)

"Minor Threat and Fugazi are two of my all time favorite bands"

Well, if thats your musical taste, then I dont think I'll even bother to look at this album.

Hamish (January 19, 2003)

Damn, I always get Eddie Janney and Micheal Hampton mixed up. Thanks for the correction.

TheOneTrueBill (January 19, 2003)

Michael Hampton wasn't in Skewbald. the lineup for Skewbald/Grandunion was

Ian Mackaye - vocals
Eddie Janney - guitar
John Falls - bass
Jeff Nelson - drums

but who the hell really cares. everyone in the old DC scene was in at least three bands

waste_elite (January 19, 2003)

much better than fugazi? they're good, but not THAT good.

Anonymous (January 19, 2003)

yes yes, I wouldnt put them ahead of minor threat, but they are much better than fugazi

waste_elite (January 18, 2003)

"i got that Void/Faith split a couple months ago and it rules"

good call, that split totally rips

Anonymous (January 18, 2003)

Way over-rated. Dag Nasty stands as a much better album from the same period. This one... eh. Its okay. I listened to it a few times and went on to something else... it was probably Fugazi.

--Cos

Hamish (January 18, 2003)

No, Brian Baker was in the Meatmen.

Anonymous (January 18, 2003)

it's a rad album

the[]muffin[]girl

yellowtrash (January 18, 2003)

Wasn't Ian in the Meatmen?

Anonymous (January 17, 2003)

i really like the cover art

TheOneTrueBill (January 17, 2003)

good review. i got that Void/Faith split a couple months ago and it rules

Anonymous (January 17, 2003)

Great stuff....the tracks "Give Me Back" and "Money" are my favorites.

waste_elite (January 17, 2003)

fucking awesome, awesome, awesome...

it's no minor threat or fugazi, but it's damn close

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