Incorporating The Music Fix
23rd October 2012 06:00:00
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Rites of Spring - Six Song Demo

There was, you could argue, a slight discrepancy between the promise of recent shows by At The Drive-In and Refused and subsequent reality - in the UK at least. Neither band had much genuine profile on these shores before they split (ATDI had played the toilet circuit on their last-but-one British tour), meaning reputations have largely grown post-break-up. So while the anticipation, online at least, for both bands' return appeared high, the unsold tickets and mixed reviews suggest that many of those who saw them first time around may simply have stayed away - and that younger listeners are less convinced by hardcore/post-hardcore than they are about the prospect of seeing long-time rock veterans like Metallica or even Iron Maiden. Punk rock, and all its subsequent guises, still apparently remains minority listening.

Which brings us to Rites of Spring's self-explanatory archive release - and the band that many hail/blame for pretty much everything subsequently tarred with the emo brush. Recorded in early 1984, anyone looking for musical pointers as to how we ended up at Fall Out Boy will be left scratching their heads, as Rites were, by any rational measure, basically US punk rock of the period, bumping round a similar sonic whirlpool as The Wipers say.

'By Design' is built upon the kind of wirey guitars the Dischord label became reknowned for and, as such, the path to the likes of ATDI is slightly easier to follow than the more pop-punk and metallic influences the crossover bands displayed. It was the heart-on-the-sleeve lyrical content - literally, in the case of 'All There Is' ("If I could take my heart in my hands / It's what I'd give to you") that would ultimately give punk yet another sub-style and bullies a disparaging name for sad-eyed kids, but you can hear an inkling of the band Rites of Spring would eventually become (Fugazi) in these early recordings.

All the tracks here were subsequently re-recorded for their self-titled album (number 30 on one of Kurt Cobain's many 'All Time Favourite Albums' lists) so this is probably best described as a curio for fans of the Washington DC scene and punk rock historians generally.

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About Douglas Baptie
After years in the trenches, Douglas was elevated to the position of Editor in 2011. Pretty much everything you need to know about him can be learned by a spin of The Damned's Black Album and a screening of Twin Peaks. With a fondness for punk and 60s girl groups (with occasional side salads of indie pop), if your records are longer than 2m 50s, you're probably wasting each other's time. For general editorial questions, drop him a line via the TMF contact email.