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Saturday, January 24, 2009


ANTHOLOGY 1997-98 (2008)
320 KBPS

Faraquet's in a funny place: At least a decade after the singles cuts and split-EP tracks collected on this disc, it's obvious the band's post-hardcore was pointing in a direction in which much of the underground would shortly follow. It's also just idiosyncratic enough that the post-hardcore bandwagon took a parallel but different path than the one foreshadowed by the D.C. band.
For an art-rock band like Faraquet, that's the best of all possible worlds. Anthology 1997-98 corrals a 10-song set of nearly impossible to find Faraquet tunes that stakes a claim on the trio's vision and unique identity. How many bands can make such a claim a decade after they tapped their first record?
Faraquet bounced around the Washington, D.C. art-rock community from 1997 to 2001, releasing singles on a variety of labels -- Dischord, 404, Mis En Scene -- before cutting its sole long-player for Dischord, The View From This Tower in 2000. Although Anthology makes it clear that the band was second-runners in a scene carved out largely by Jawbox and Fugazi, Faraquet is a much-needed reminder of the D.C. scene's post-hardcore heyday. Like its contemporaries, Faraquet mixed brainy, convoluted arrangements with the muscle of workingman's hardcore, for the now historic blend of post-punk protozoa.
Showing off everything from the wildly, almost jazz-like chops of a band able to command an arrangement that jitters, jumps and threatens to whirl off into abstract noodling, only to be relentlessly keel-hauled back to the earth. In "Call It Sane," a skittery guitar picks its way through bales of wiry post-hardcore noodling, syncopating and running away from a churning rhythm section. "Review" flutters on stop-on-a-dime dynamics, but instead the band crafts a pop tune, switching between rich vocals and a post-rock guitar jam that doubles as a hook. Both songs have one foot in the D.C. post-hardcore world and the other in a more elaborate, far-reaching post-rock sensibility that was budding in the underground in the day. "Study in Movement," true to its name, flickers between post-rock abstract guitar, building into a jazzed-out frenzy. "Parakeet" and "Sea Song" show off the same ideals that would later blossom in instrumental indie, packaging up musician-friendly complexities, though setting them against a more salt-of-the-earth base that quickly eluded that scene.
Faraquet isn't a replacement for your beloved Jawbox collection, but it isn't meant to be. Anthology wraps up a string of singles that, amazingly, still sounds important and fresh 10 years after they were written. That's reason enough to tip your hat to this trio.

1. Parakeet
2. Um Die Ecke
3. The Whole Thing Over
4. Call It Sane
5. Study In Movement
6. Yo-Yo
7. Review
8. Rex
9. Conversations
10. Sea Song

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