With Fugazi on an indefinite hiatus, the world of post-hardcore has suffered a void that has yet to be filled. The band’s intelligent, anarchic take on punk rock shot through with elements of everything from reggae to math-rock is much missed, but there is one band who have the potential to step into Fugazi’s tragically vacated spot in the limelight. Nonagon are a Chicago band who have been treading the boards for some six or seven years, but to date their work-rate has been far from prolific and it is only now that the band have chosen to raise their heads above the parapet, some four years after their last release, with the remarkable ‘People live everywhere’ EP, a record (available on vinyl and digital download) that picks up where Fugazi left off with their acclaimed ‘end hits’ and adds Nonagon’s own unique spin to the music.
First track ‘Vikings’, which opens with a sampled female voice saying “here we go fella’s” is the ideal introduction to the band – a simple bass line that explodes into a thousand points of light as the drums and guitars charge in, whilst the vocals are a familiar dusty roar, melodic and yet shot through with raw emotion that’s part Jello Biafra, part Johnny Rotten. As sharp angular riffs shatter the wall-of-sound approach of the verse, it’s clear that Nonagon are not content to take the easy way and for all the bludgeoning power of their music, there’s a sharp intelligence at work that never lets you rest easy as hints of Sonic Youth’s contrarily arty approach make themselves felt on the bridge of the track. ‘Fresnel lens’ is a tremendous mix of hideously confusing time signatures and off-kilter percussion, so awkwardly constructed that a degree in mathematics is advised just to get your head around what is going on. It’s punk in the truest sense of the word, belligerent, non-conformist and played with a searing attitude that must make this band an essential live act.
Side two (if you’re listening on the preferred format of vinyl) takes a rather unexpected twist by heading off into Mclusky territory – duelling vocals, seething bass and stabs of detuned guitar all making for thrilling listening and reminding you just how damn great post-hardcore can be when played with passion and conviction by a talented group of individuals. ‘Fade out’, even more bizarrely, echoes the opening of Tool’s ‘Aenima’ before turning into a rather contemplative instrumental, not dissimilar to Fugazi’s ‘Lusty scripps’ from the ‘instrument’ soundtrack. ‘Severe presence’ rounds out the EP in blistering style with a gloriously discordant riff underpinning an increasingly unhinged vocal ending in a haze of screams and guitar abuse before plunging us into silence an all-too-soon fifteen minutes after having first placed the platter on the deck.
Nonagon are one of those bands who have the power to fire the imagination and the adrenalin glands. Brash, eccentric and exciting they are an awesome throwback to the brilliantly deranged and unique music crafted in the American underground back in the nineties whilst simultaneously putting their own spin on things. This is brilliant, passionate punk played by musicians who live and breathe the music they make and the five tracks here are an unmitigated treat from start to finish. Available in digital download format (if you really must) at the following location, or on pristine vinyl (with a digital download included so you can take it everywhere you go) this is something of a must have for those who still mourn the inaction of Fugazi and need to hear something new, exciting and wonderfully unconventional. Give Nonagon a spin, it is without doubt that you will not be disappointed.