3. Red Medicine (1995): “Your eyes / Like crashing jets / Fixed in stained glass / But not religious” — is there a better opening line in all of punkdom? Red Medicine marks the beginning of Fugazi’s second life as an experimental rock band, and the results are an unequivocal success. Finally (and audibly) confident in the studio as a self-producing band, the band’s use of space on Red Medicine represents an about-face from the cacophonous assault of In On The Kill Taker. Fugazi’s love of dub music is finally more than merely hinted at with “Version,” a bold and menacing instrumental that utilizes dissonance and echo in ways King Tubby never imagined. Elsewhere, the band incorporates relatively unusual instruments such as clarinet, a trend that would continue with increasing regularity on subsequent Fugazi albums. This is not to say that Red Medicine is an album for quiet reflection — one of the album’s finest songs is MacKaye’s air-guitar worthy “Bed For The Scraping,” as raucous and raging as anything the band ever committed to tape. It’s Picciotto, however, who emerges as the star here. His yearning, desperate “Forensic Scene” ably showcases the band’s knack for intensity and restraint, while opener “Do You Like Me” imagines a major corporate merger between warmongering companies Lockheed and Martin Marrietta as an innocent grade school romance. We’re a long way from drinking, fighting, and fucking here, folks.
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