All right, I enjoy raw, experimental, crude, weird music as much as anybody (probably more than most people, to be honest). I hear an unhealthy amount of blistering noise, amateur-ish guitar rock, malevolent punk, backwoods metal and any kind of electronics experiment you could imagine, up to and including listening to the power lines buzz.
I adore the acoustisphere, love to listen, and I am so, so grateful for the technicolor faucet of interesting sounds that flood past my tympanum each day. That being said, hearing exceptionally talented musicians is like a swig of mint lemonade in the Death Valley sun. While great chops are not a pre-requisite for me to love your band, or your songs, it sure goes a long way to show you know what you're doing.
New Jersey's The Medicinal Purpose is pretty much the definition of exceptionally talented musicians, with searing, acid-fries solos; intricate, well thought out arrangements; solid songwriting; and interesting instrumentation. The Medicinal Purpose brings their brand of improvisatory, raw soulful blues jam rock to heal the world with good vibes on their self-titled album The Medicinal Purpose. And they're succeeding, quite remarkably!
In the Stephen King short story "You Know They Got A Hell Of A Band" from the collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes, imagines an afterlife where all of the members of the 27 club, all the great, lost talents cut down in their prime, were to share a stage (a classic rock fantasy).
Now imagine if there were a similar pub, where all of the hard-boiled sounds of the '70s were to do the same. Now THAT would be a weird sounding place!
If you've ever thought to yourself, "I wonder what it might've sounded like if Jimi Hendrix had stayed alive long enough to jam with Stevie Wonder, the Allman Brothers and Sun Ra," first of all, congratulations on a vivid imagination and excellent taste. Secondly, The Medicinal Purpose is your closest chance to find out.
Nearly every song on The Medicinal Purpose has some moment of flying, frying, shredding solos, albeit in a variety of genres. There's the psych/funk of album opener "Sorry I Suppose" until it unexpectedly erupts into a N'awlins second line, complete with Dixieland clarinet. Now THAT is a fusion I have yet to hear!
Or the country fried chicken pickin' of "Only Child." Or the moody psychedelia of "Ya Both," full of implied menace and restrained impulse.
Over the duration of The Medicinal Purpose, you can hear every hallmark of a band that has their shit together. There's the insane, intricate polyrhythmic drumming, which rages like a choppy sea throughout. Or the harmonic, unison guitar solos of "Treetops" - still, to this date, the clearest indication that a band has put in the time to master their own material.
Quite simply put, The Medicinal Purpose is proof positive that "jam band" need not be a dirty word. It makes us wonder what could've been had the cosmic Americana of The Grateul Dead joined forces with the muscular funk of James Brown and the eternal rhythms of Fela Kuti's Afrobeat.
Just more proof that we're living in a Golden Age Of Music - with rarefied tastes and boundary-less listening. Here's our chance to connect some unconnected dots and, instead of imagining what might've been, we turn our thoughts to what might be instead.
A hell of a band indeed!
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