After a hiatus of several years, Medicine has returned to the forefront of the alternative music scene with their new long-play ‘Scarred for Life’. This 11-track album is available on limited edition vinyl, as well as digitally, via NYC-based label Drawing Room Records.
The brainchild of guitarist Brad Laner, the LA-based collective was among pioneers of the shoegaze genre and today, is one of a small handful of core bands of this genre to reform and still exist today, along with peers Slowdive, Ride, Swervedriver and My Bloody Valentine. This album involves the band’s original vocalist Annette Zilinskas.
This LP continues a rich tradition of feedback-saturated noise-pop experiments dating back to 1991, when Brad Laner formed Medicine with Zilinskas, drummer Jim Goodall, guitarist Jim Putnam and bassist Eddie Ruscha. After co-writing the songs ‘Aruca’ and ‘Miss Drugstore’, Zilinskas left Medicine as her music troupe The Ringling Sisters had signed to A&M Records. Beth Thompson subsequently assumed vocal duties.
Medicine’s current line-up sees Laner, Goodall and Zilinskas reunited, along with guitarist Matt Devine, who played with Medicine on their last US tour in 1995 and also joined the band for their 2014 appearance at Austin Psych Fest.
‘Scarred For Life’ is a highly ambitious release – an album of all “killer no filler”, including tracks from Neil Young, Judee Sill, Miles Davis, The Monkees, and even Bob Welch. This album of all covers is well beyond simple reinterpretation. Laner and company give each track a Medicine-sized dosage of their ‘wall of sound’ to bless and heal.
Mastered by Adam Gonsalves, each LP is pressed on 180-gram vinyl. It comes with a full color gloss jacket and 22×22” foldout poster. This is an outstandingly eclectic selection of tracks where Laner and cohorts attempt to relive the glory (and none of the fiascos) of old school samplers, like K-Tel compilations. Back in the 70s and early 80s, these samplers provided an economic way to experience the wonders of AM/FM radio dials, being as varied as the Top 40 charts were in their heyday.
“Come listen and hell even purchase this album of covers. Above all else, this album was really just some folk’s attempt to keep sane in the wake of a certain nameless fascist assuming power back in the dark days of 2016. Mind you, we love it, but the song choices have no cohesive theme and although it’s a bit noisy, we’re not trying to be all anything, or whatever,” says Brad Laner.
Medicine were signed to Creation Recordson the basis of the original demo, becoming the first American band to do so. In America, they signed to Rick Rubin’s American Recordings label in 1992. Although Pitchfork hailed Medicine as the closest thing to being an American answer to My Bloody Valentine, Medicine’s signature guitar tone managed to distinguish their own music from some of the more ambiguous endeavors of the shoegaze movement.
Medicine is perhaps best known for their cameo appearance in the 1994 film The Crow and subsequent inclusion of ‘Time Baby 3’ on its soundtrack, featuring guest vocals from Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser. Medicine’s first album ‘Shot Forth Self Living’ was released in 1992, followed by ‘The Buried Life’the next year, gaining them mainstream attention. The band broke up soon after releasing their third album ‘Her Highness’in 1995. Medicine reformed briefly in 2003 as a duo with Laner and Shannon Lee (daughter of Bruce Lee), releasing the album ‘The Mechanical Forces of Love’.
It would be another decade until Laner would reunite with Thompson and Goodall and release a new studio album ‘To the Happy Few’ through Captured Tracks, followed by their sixth album ‘Home Everywhere’. In 2012, Captured Tracks reissued Medicine’s first two albums with bonus material and rarities. 2017 brought the release of ‘2.0 Extraneous’, a collection of B-sides and unreleased material from Medicine’s 2003 incarnation.
Brad Laner is one of the most prolific artists on the underground scene. His various projects include his experimental solo project Electric Company and psychedelic supergroup Lusk(with members of Tool and Failure), who received a Grammy Award nomination for their sole album. He has performed on over 300 albums, contributing vocals and co-writing on M83‘s 2011 album ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ and playing drums for industrial rock outfit Savage Republic. Laner’s work has been sampled by artists such as Brian Eno and Caribou.
Annette Zilinskas is best known for the musically disparate bands she’s fronted. Apart from co-founding Medicine, she is also the original bassist for The Bangles, as well as vocalist with influential roots-punk outfit Blood on the Saddle, whose juiced-up anthems inspired the cowpunk genre, paving the way for the No Depression movement and related alt-country/Americana revivals. She later led the dream-pop group Weatherbell and punky all-girl garage-rock trio 3 Hole Punch. In 2016, Zilinskas reunited with The Bangles for live shows.
“This LP is like a homecoming for me and Brad playing together again,” says Zilinskas.
As of October 4, ‘Scarred for Life’ is available across online stores and streaming platforms such as Spotify. The vinyl itself is available exclusively via Drawing Room Records’ Bandcamp site.
Jim Goodall – drums Brad Laner – guitars, bass, vocals, keyboards, percussion
Annette Zilinskas – vocals and harmonica
Matt Devine – guitar and vocals
Solo Goodspeed – keyboards and chapman stick on ‘Absolutely Free’
Produced and recorded by Brad Laner at Eichler Sound
Mixed by Thom Monahan at Golden Void
Mastered by Adam Gonsalves for Telegraph Mastering
Artwork / layout by Jeff Kuykendall
01. Scarred For Life
02. Sentimental Lady
03. Dead Time Bummer Blues
04. Expecting To Fly
05. Absolutely Free
06. Listen To The Band
07. Sally Go Round The Roses
08. The Sweetest Girl
09. The Green Country
10. Pickup Song
11. Black Satin