"Bed For The Scraping" helps to tie this album to its predecessor. This marks one of the more hardcore tracks on this album. Frantic vocals over some tight guitar work.
"Latest Disgrace" starts off with a contrast of speed between the guitar and bass that soon merges into an aggressive assault that occasionally pulls back to let the melody ring clear. Definitely an overlooked track that is very impressive for its diversity.
"Birthday Pony" reveals the band's humorous side that is often overshadowed by their politics and ethics. In this song, they manage to show both their sides as they attack materialism and greed from the point of view of a child.
"Forensic Scene" is one of my favorite Fugazi tracks of all time, as it is amazingly catchy and simultaneously aggressive. The drums and bass play off each other nicely in the beginning of the song to create the sensation of a body being swung over a cliff (as it was pointed out in the Instrument video). The quiet tension of this song is breathtaking and adds to its eerie tone.
"Combination Lock" is one of their best instrumentals of all time. The surprisingly catchy drumming serves as a prelude to their immersion in math rock during their next release.
The next song, "Fell, Destroyed" is often unjustly overlooked and I have only one version of it live (out of about 20 bootlegs) and its cut off midway. They contrast the aggressive with the mellow in a way that they do more prominently in The Argument. The tension is everywhere apparent in this song's progression.
"By You" brings bassist Joe Lally to the mic. His voice is perfectly abrasive in this song (and even better live) and fits nicely with the music. The subtle and delicate notes of the intro are deceiving, as the song rapidly falls into a pit of distortion and noise. The song falls into a terribly beautiful screech that takes a few listens to appreciate.
"Version" proves to be an interesting instrumental, as Guy busts out some Clarinet for a distinctly eerie sound that sounds like someone tiptoeing around a haunted mansion, as strange as that sounds.
Fugazi feeds us some more hardcore in "Target," while warning us that we are all the targets of the music industry. The guitar riff in this song is great, as it manages to flow outside the song structure on its own plane.
"Back To Base" could have fit in perfectly with the hardcore of In on the Kill Taker with Ian's frantic vocal delivery. In true Fugazi fashion, they manage to hit you hard then back off to let it sink in before the next assault.
"Downed City" starts off much like the opening track but then rips into some hardcore frenzy. Probably one of the least memorable tracks on this record, and that's saying a lot.
"Long Distance Runner" serves as a great closer for a great album. It is both driving and subtle as the mathematics play out perfectly over the varied guitars. The message of this song is very anti-competitive. Your only fight is with gravity trying to bring you down, not with the other people that you're running with. My only grievance with this song is that some of its most potent lyrics are whispered so quietly that they are lost in the drums.
This album marked a bend in the road for Fugazi as they began to slow down but maintained their energy and aggression throughout their songs. My advice to any one considering this album is that, in order to understand the directions that Fugazi goes, it is ideal that you hear their albums in the order that they were made. Each is a logical step in the progression and each is amazing in its own right. Give it a few listens and be prepared to be blown away by these modern day Bachs.
One thing that is still in place are the always amazing rhythm section of Joe Lally and Brendan Canty. Both always push the songs perfectly, add a simple but explosive dynamic and even add a little grove to the songs(combination lock). The trademark Ian mishmash vocals are in place and pretty much takes the role of motivator and politcal agenda as usual while Guy still does his trademark squeal with the same emotive feeling and lyrics. What really changes this time around is the way the band approaches songs. Rather then the tight but explosive songs of their early days, the songs on Red Medicine seem as though they were born out of jams and accidents. The feeling of structure that was on earlier work is replaced with a far more relaxed and sometimes humorus enviroment. Thanks to that approach, the songs themselves breathe better then their ealier work and while not lacking in great hooks or interesting dynamics, there is a major focus on texture and feeling that was not pressent in the early days. The result is refreshing while still feeling like a Fugazi album.
Its stylistic masterpiece that only Fugazi could pull off with this much panache. Its a great listen for any mood, but shows the band is more than just that angry band from D.C. and proves that they are a musical force and one of the best bands out there. Too bad it would be followed up by their weakest effort yet, End Hits. But would later flex some creative muscle with another career defining album, The Argument. Fugazi has been my inspiration for awhile now and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
That aside, this is one of Fugazi's most compelling records; heck, Joe even sings on one of the songs! Read more