Red Medicine

Red Medicine

Each Fugazi album represents a break point in the band’s evolution—a chance for the band’s four members to explore a new skill or interest. The subsequent changes are never dramatic, but they’re definitely present—especially on 1995’s Red Medicine. After taking a break for much of 1994, Fugazi had regrouped, cut a whole mess of demos in Connecticut—some of which would later appear on 1999’s Instrument Soundtrack—and returned to D.C. feeling recharged and confident—and ready to start what would become the band’s second and final musical phase. Produced by the band members, Red Medicine—named after the stuff you take as a child—is the first broad expansion of Fugazi’s musical palette. There’s more musical detail here than ever before: The hard strumming on “Do You Like Me” sounds like furious, heavy indie-pop. Meanwhile, “Fell, Destroyed” is one of the group’s funkiest moments, with a quote from the legendary reggae artist Tenor Saw—“Ring the alarm”—being incorporated into a raw, melodic chorus. The album also finds Fugazi getting a bit cranky about alternative rock being used as a corporate marketing tool: On the epic noise-fest “By You,” bassist Joe Lally decries “Generation Fuck-you,” while “Target” finds Guy Picciotto declaring, “I hate the sound of guitars/A thousand grudging young millionaires.” Was that dig intended for a specific 90s alt-rock target, like Green Day? Or did Fugazi simply have beef with the major labels co-opting the underground? (The answer: Probably both). As it turned out, Red Medicine would become one of Fugazi’s most successful albums, peaking at No. 126 on Billboard’s album charts. Decades later, it stands as the group’s best-sounding effort—one that often tops Fugazi fans’ favorite-album lists.

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