Fugazi were one of the greatest bands in the history of American underground rock. Some of us might argue that they were simply the greatest, no qualifiers necessary. And a big part of the reason was the rhythm section of bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty. For all those years, Lally and Canty laid down an unbeatable succession of slow, patient, sinuous grooves, giving Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto room to push punk rock in directions that nodded to funk and reggae and experimental music while still anchoring their freakiest freakouts. They were a treasure. And now Lally and Canty have once again teamed up, this time in a very different setting.
Lally and Canty now make up two thirds of the instrumental DC power trio the Messthetics. They’ve joined forces with local guitar hero Anthony Pirog, who comes from jazz and experimental music. Together, they’ve made a self-titled album of wiggy, intense rock music that sounds absolutely nothing like Fugazi.
On “Serpent Tongue” and “Quantum Path,” Pirog tends toward math-minded acid-rock guitar theatrics. But on the rest of the Messthetics’ album, the band goes in different directions, toward quiet melodicism or deep groove. It’s a cool way to hear three very gifted musicians communicating wordlessly. The whole album is now streaming online, and you can hear it at NPR.
The Messthetics is out 3/23 on Dischord.