(CAPTURED TRACKS; 2014)
After a brief, 18 year respite, Medicine’s original core trio (Brad Laner, Beth Thompson and Jim Goodall) reconvened in 2013 for the TO THE HAPPY FEW album (Laner released an album in 2003 called THE MECHANICAL FORCES OF LOVE, but it was a Medicine album in name only). Rather than tour to hype the new material, the band immediately began work on a new record; now, a little over a year later, comes HOME EVERYWHERE. My first true exposure to the band came with the 1995 release of HER HIGHNESS, their third (and final) record of their original run, and the ensuing tour; the record was okay, the live show was an exhausting lesson in feedback and noise that I’ve never forgotten and have never seen repeated in the ensuing 18 year gap (although Sons of Hippies do come close). The band handed me a copy of their second album, THE BURIED LIFE, which still receives frequent plays at home and in the car. HOME EVERYWHERE seems to pick up where that release left off in 1993.
The album’s opening salvo, “The Reclaimed Girl,” is wicked noise-mongering at its finest… just like I remembered; it kinda sounds like it was recorded in a toilet… just like I remembered. There’s an odd, bubbling bass thing and a weird tack piano part that come to the fore oduring the breaks. What a great way to start an album! “Turning” is a prototypical Medicine track, with a really dirty sounding, fuzzed-out bass, a funky guitar signature, vocals buried deep in the mix (as usual) and drums that Jack Black would call “gut-bucket.” A two-headed behemoth of uncontrolled abuse, “Move Along” and “Down the Road” features guitars that are strangled to within an inch of their metaphorical lives. The vocals, again, have a rather syrupy sweet sound, even if they are buried under tons of near-white noise. This pop music at its best. “Don’t Be Slow” kinda sounds like a girl group run through a blender with Brian Wilson at a Big Country kegger. Translation: Quite melodic and utterly dissonant. Sort of a clunky rhythm propels “Cold Life” along, under a bed of feedback enhanced guitar repetition. This is the type of headache-inducing noise that we all wanna hear from Medicine. “They Will Not Die” closes out side one of the vinyl version, for those so inclined, of HOME EVERYWHERE. It’s an oddly haunting tune – a little bit of a New Orleans voodoo vibe – with rather unique instrumental choices for this group. The number is a well-placed (mid-album) change of pace and very enjoyable.
“It’s All About You” opens side two and is probably the poppiest that you’ll ever hear the group play. An echoey piano from Laner truly enhances Thompson’s dreamy vocals. The song actually got stuck on “replay” in my head! Has anyone ever been able to say that about a Medicine song? A percussion-heavy non-tune, “The People,” has Jim Goodall out front while stabs of vicious guitar feedback punctuate the mayhem before everything falls away into a spooky soundtrack of low noises and weird voices. “Home Everywhere,” aside from providing the record with a name, is also its piece de resistance. It starts out as a happy, hippie pop thing with a bass line that gets stuck in the cranial cavity, turns into a swirling cauldron of imaginative percussion and feedback, has a break with sort of a hypnotic hymn vibe at about the five minute mark and finishes up with four minutes of what can only be called a “droning hippie-fest… all with amazingly up-front vocals. As awesome as it is here, this eleven-and-a-half minute minimalist workout would be great live!
So, there you go… a really solid album with some truly great songs. It’s like the band has never been away. Now, if we can just get ’em back on stage!