Joe Lally – There To Here

5 06 2008

Joe LallyThere To Here
2006 – Dischord

There To Here is Joe Lally’s (Fugazi, motherfuckers!) first solo album ever. It sounds very much like what it is: 1/4 of Fugazi. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, though I suppose saying something like that I can’t help but sound at least a little dismissive. Anyway, what I mean is that I can hear some Fugazi in the album, but not all the time. Hearing Joe Lally alone, I could suddenly tell what was him in all the Fugazi albums I’ve been listening to for the past long while, and I thought this was really interesting.

My favorite tracks on this album were the ones that were a bit more fleshed-out, meaning the ones that had drums and/or more traditional song structures. Since this is a solo album, and since Joe Lally is a bass player, there are a couple tracks that are a bit too… static for me. Static, or abstract, or both, I guess. It’s not a big problem on the album by any means (I likely wouldn’t have made it through the whole thing if I felt like the whole album was some kind of ethereal (insomuch as bass played non-harmonically can be ethereal) bassline with quiet singing. What do I mean? I like the songs that rock a bit more or have a bit of the repetitive rock structure that hooks me in. I guess I liked the tracks that sounded like (and were) more than Joe by himself. I like his writing and his singing and his playing, but I like them better when there’s another person (like Amy Farina of The Warmers AND MOTHER OF IAN MACKAYE’S CHILD OMG) there with him. It’s not that Joe Lally can’t hack it by himself. He obviously can. He’s a great melodic bass player, and I like his aesthetic, but I think his ideas deserve a bit of back up so they can really appeal.

All that said, this album sounds very much like a Dischord/D.C. album. I don’t know how political Lally was before he joined Fugazi, but he’s pretty political now, and that comes across in his lyrics, which aren’t too clever or too ham-handed, though there are a few moments when the earnestness of them borders on uncomfortable. Not that I mind this uncomfortableness, of course. I’m a girl who believes in baring her soul and who believes in the importance of being earnest (…), so I’m not going to be put off by someone who puts his beliefs right out there in plain words.

All in all, listening to this album made me want to listen to more Dischord stuff. I haven’t listened to idealistic music for a while, and as I’m writing, I’m listening to The Evens, and it feels like it’s good for my soul, as awful as that is to say. On a day where I’ve been mostly too sick to do much except eat soup and mindlessly surf the internet, There To Here made me feel like tomorrow I would wake up well and ready to get to work.

Since its release in 2006, he has released a second solo effort (Nothing is Underrated, late 2007) and has worked on his other projects, which include Ataxia, a band he’s in with John Frusciante and Josh Klinghoffer, Capillary Action, and Zu.

Also Listened:
Elliot Smith – xo
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Greatest Hits
From Fiction – From Fiction (EP)
The Ponys – Laced With Romance