Nice New Outfit
Dear Justice Letter
Brooding, hypnotic, and frequently explosive, Steady Diet of Nothing continues Fugazi’s dismantling of punk rock orthodoxy. The band was moving even further from the participatory dance rituals of early “hits” like “Waiting Room” and “Repeater,” and at the same time its sonic vision was broadening. “Exit Only,” “Steady Diet," and “Runaway Return” go beyond simple punk to find the through-line between The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Minutemen, and Sonic Youth. Guy Picciotto's influence is felt more strongly on this album, as the lusty convulsions of “Latin Roots” and “Dear Justice Letter” (directly addressed to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan) define the album’s tone. Unlike music by most of the era's underground rock bands—which was often "all loud, all the time"—Steady Diet of Nothing makes great use of negative space, particularly on Ian MacKaye’s “Stacks.” While the band had become known for sudden detonations in its songs, the best tune here (and arguably Fugazi’s best song ever) is “Long Division,” which centers on the hushed interlocking lines of two guitars and bass.