Fugazi

You can be forgiven (this time, at least) if you've never heard of Washington, D.C., indie "superstars" Fugazi. These four guys probably will never make it onto mainstream radio, and they don't particularly care. As the long-reigning, self-reliant kings of all things independent, they've grown accustomed to playing strictly by their own rules, which may, or more likely may not, jibe with those of the music industry.

Don't let the reputation fool you, though -- it's the music, not the image, that's the real appeal. Fugazi practically invented the entire post-hardcore genre, a musical style that's echoed in the sound of an astounding number of bands these days. The sharp, staccato bursts of loud, jagged guitars and the mostly melody-less yelled singing are features ripped straight out of the Fugazi songbook.

Thankfully, Fugazi hasn't been content to rest upon its laurels. The band's latest, last October's The Argument, is much more low-key than its earlier efforts, but no less compelling; in fact, it's the "quiet" songs, like the slowly churning "Life and Limb" and the matter-of-fact "Cashout," that really stand out.

So here's the pitch, in a nutshell: One of the hardest-working, most dedicated, most talented bands in the history of rock music is finally coming to town (thanks to the efforts of Hands Up Houston), and this is your chance to switch off MTV and catch a glimpse of what the real underground looks like. Take it.

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Jeremy Hart