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There to Here

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Album Review

It was probably no surprise to most that Ian MacKaye was the first to get a project moving and recorded in the wake of the Fugazi "hiatus." He has always been the motivator and mover in the D.C. scene, being a part of just about every major paradigm shift in that scene for 25 years. What is surprising — to a certain degree — is that the next in line (not counting Brendan Canty's work with Bob Mould) was Joe Lally. Sure, Lally has already walked out from the rhythm section shadows in Fugazi (Red Medicine's "By You" was his first "lead" vocal appearance), but it seemed that over the last few years, he had concerned himself with his label, Tolotta, compiling the Fugazi Live Series, and working with other musicians (John Frusciante, for one), rather than making an individual musical statement. So the expectations for his solo debut may have been a bit, well, puzzling. So what is the result? Surprisingly, There to Here is not what one would expect. It is a surprisingly elaborate record, lush and developed, with his bass and vocals embellished with local support (Edward Janney, Guy Picciotto, Ian MacKaye, Amy Farina, and Scott "Wino" Weinrich) that is at times minimalist, at others big and dreamy. It is a dichotomy of a record: on the one hand it feels almost naked (the vocal only anti-war track "Sons and Daughters" for example) and on the other it's a nearly-progressive-sounding record, with touches that are dense and layered. It may not be the record one would expect from the bassist of Fugazi, but then again, did anyone expect the lo-fi direction that MacKaye has taken with the Evens? If you listen closely, you can still hear the familiar on There to Here, but there are some great moments ("Pick a War" comes to mind) that remind one of, say, Kraftwerk or Neu! rather than something American. That isn't to say that this is just a big family record to make some music in a rather anonymous atmosphere. There is a very distinct and direct message to the songs. As with the Evens, Lally is pissed off at the current state of things — keep in mind that politics (both personal and interpersonal) have always been at the core of those he's been in close contact with musically, so it would be misinformed to assume that this subject matter wouldn't play a role here. But while many artists fall into the trap of sounding pious or overly self-righteous in such matters, Lally is adept enough lyrically to sound less like the preacher on a soapbox and more the intelligent messenger, never pandering to his audience or assuming they need to be babied. On There to Here, Joe Lally presents a record with amazing depth that never panders to the listener. ~ Christopher M. True, Rovi

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Best known as a member of Fugazi, Joe Lally first learned bass after seeing a Minor Threat show with Dag Nasty's Peter Cortner, which prompted them to form a band. In 1987 he joined up with Ian MacKaye, Brendan Canty, and Guy Picciotto to make Fugazi, one of the most important groups in the American underground scene. In 2002, as Fugazi was on hiatus, Lally got together with ex-Frodus members Shelby Cinca and Jason Hamacher as Black Sea and released a single that year, soon after changing their name...
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There to Here, Joe Lally
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