Fugazi - End Hits (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


End Hits (1998)


                Following Red Medicine, nobody was certain what to expect from Fugazi as they had increased the experimental nature of their sound greatly. With the release of End Hits, it became obvious the band intended to expand upon this experimentation. While this hadn’t always proved successful for other bands in the hardcore and punk scenes, Fugazi trusted their fans to give them a chance. And perhaps, more than any other band to come out of the punk scene, Fugazi fans knew they could trust the band.

The band could experiment successfully due to them taking a longer period to record the album, spending seven months at Inner Studios. During this extended recording process, the band would begin to incorporate new instruments into their sound such as electronic drums and synthesizers. In addition to this, they would also utilize recording techniques they hadn’t in the past, such as drum layering in addition to the movement and removal of microphones while recording some songs.

While none of these experimentations ever ended up being a flat-out failure, some were certainly more successful than others. One of the most successful examples of this, appears towards the middle of the album on “Floating Boy.” The ending of this song is filled with a much softer drum sound, which was captured by removing all the drum mics from the studio, save for the bottom snare mic. With the drums presence in the recording reduced the band brought in synthesizers and a wall of guitar reverb. These experimentations, even the use of drum machine on “Closed Captioned,” weren’t going to shock fans. This isn’t Fugazi’s Kid A, but it is a band looking for ways to add the finest nuances they could to their already well-established sound. In that regard, they succeeded.

Where the band doesn’t succeed is with making this a memorable album. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good, perhaps even great, album. But, prior to a few listens to familiarize myself with its contents it was my least listened to Fugazi release … followed very closely by the 13 Songs compilation which captured some of the band’s earliest work. What this album served as, at least in my eyes, was the album where that set the ground for The Argument. An album that I consider to be one of the best swan songs in the history of punk rock.

Several of the songs on here would also appear on the Instrument soundtrack a year later, albeit in demo form. Those also provide some perspective for the tracks found here, as you can feel some of the slight hesitation on the Instrument version of songs like “Pink Frosty” has completely disappeared by the time it appeared on End Hits in its final recorded form.

Don’t take any of the negatives the wrong way though, this isn’t a bad album. Fugazi never made a bad album. There are punk bands who would sacrifice a lot to have their best album, sound as good as the worst one in the Fugazi catalog. This is however an experimental album. It’s an album where the band isn’t afraid to try new things or challenge their audience. And for that, anyone willing to stick around for the ride is going to be rewarded. While the experimentation kept this album from being a influential as some of the band’s earlier work, it’s still worth a listen or two. There’s a lot of great things going on here.