Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Burning In The Undertow : One Last Wish

It was to my surprise, upon my conversations with various fellow Fugazi or even Rites of Spring fan over the years that some of them had never heard of One Last Wish, Guy Picciotto's band post-Rites of Spring and pre-Fugazi. How is this possible? Let's get one thing straight : One Last Wish, by independent scene's scope, is not in anyway obscure. So how do we explain the fact that some people are still oblivious to the existence of this band?

Well, for a start, One Last Wish was not even a band for more than a year (8 months to be exact). They played no more than a slew of shows, mostly in D.C area. Though the mixing of their album was completed by January 1987, the album didn't see the light of day until 13 years later. The band's demise in the same month was the reason why Dischord didn't release it back then. However, their song Burning In The Undertow was featured on Dichord benefit sampler "State of The Union" (April 1989).

Also, not long after One Last Wish dissolution, both Canty and Picciotto joined Fugazi which became a powerhouse name in the DIY/hardcore/punk scene as we know it. Fugazi's influence and impact in the underground music scene in the late 80's onwards was huge and undeniable. Whether you agree or not with some of their ethical stances and approaches to business practices is a different matter altogether. It is no surprise that more people would become better acquainted with Fugazi.

I can't really remember my first revelation of One Last Wish. It must have been through some music articles or reviews on the internet. However, I do remember the impact it had on me. Eight years later, as i'm listening to their full-length "1986" while writing this, the magic has not lost on me. It doesn't sound even a second older which is a ridiculous thing to say considering how 80's the production of this album is.

Rites of Spring made a big impression on me when I heard them for the first time. It was also my first introduction with Mr. Picciotto. I didn't know that hardcore punk and melodies could be paired in such a way without sacrificing the intensity. It opened my eyes to this new realm of possibilities in music, leading me to other bands such as The Hated, Gray Matter, Soulside, Current, etc.

One Last Wish took this approach even a step further, introducing more mid-tempo sections and hints of 1970's UK post-punk in their music. Gone are the big blazing guitar riffs, and the aggressive, angry vocals. The bass and the vocals took the centre stage while two overdriven guitars weave in and out with their jangly open chords accompanying Guy's half-singing, half-shouting vocals. The song structures are simpler compared to Rites of Spring's, leaning towards pop format (none of the songs reaches three-minutes mark) with more emphasis in groove, giving the songs more space and dynamic. There's no long, noisy parts to be found ala Rites of Spring's End On End. Everything is concise, 'simple' and just enough. 

Am i biased when it comes to 1986? Yes, absolutely. It's one of my favorite albums of all time, beating Rites of Spring's End On End and Fugazi's Repeater releases by a tiny margin. Rites of Spring was bursting with intensity; Fugazi showed me growth and forward-thinking; while One Last Wish hit me emotionally, viscerally moved me and fill me with feelings. It's not anger nor sadness. It's not nostalgic longing nor glimpses of the future. It's a realization that music at its most basic and simple form may inspire any complicated human being.

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