Spring Marathon Time

Howdy, friend.

It's Spring Marathon time, our chance to gauge the impact we've made on your life. If you have anything that you can contribute to our station, and more specifically, our show, head over to WMNF.org to cast your vote for mediocre programming. If you'd rather surprise us at the last minute, call the station (813.238.8001) while we're on the air. That's tonight from 11pm-1am EDT.

Bear in mind, you can pledge your amount and then send your check afterwards, or you can sign up for the Circle of Friends and contribute at least $10 a month, which will be automatically deducted from your checking account. It's a very painless way to make a substantial difference for you community radio station.

And if that heartfelt plea didn't touch your wallet, here's the kicker. Introducing the Official Grand National Championships T-Shirt. It's available in long and short sleeves, and also in "women's" styles of shirts. Let us know what cut you're looking for, and we will provide. The minimum donation to get one of these bad-boys is $75. It is available exclusively to marathon donors, so act now. Thanks, as always, for your help.


Medications - Completely Removed

For those of you who do not know, Medications is the band that rose, more or less, from the ashes of Faraquet, the Washington, DC, Dischord band whose run from 1997 to 2000 yielded a single full-length album, The View From This Tower, and a handful of singles, which were neatly repackaged as the collection Anthology 1997-98 a few years back. The number of devotees of core members Devin Ocampo and Chad Molter’s musical partnership increased exponentially during the time between Faraquet’s dissolution and the announcement of Medications' formation in 2004. While Devin and Chad went about their bidness, their music percolated in the headphones of countless fans of intricate, melodic, and aggressive music that would, for better or worse, typically be classified as Math Rock. Medications arrived to a following who might not have been more than peripherally aware of their previous group during it’s lifetime, but had learned about it since then, and now gave a whole lot of a fuck about their music.

Medications’ self-titled debut EP and first album, Your Favorite People All In One Place, were performed by Devin, Chad and drummer Andrew Becker. Becker’s drumming style is a signature of these releases. It is fantastically punishing and pushes the over-driven nature of the rest of the instrumentation and vocals. On their latest album, Completely Removed, that relentless energy is dialed back with the departure of Becker from the group, and the addition of Mark Cisneros. I hesitate to say that Cisneros has replaced Becker, though, as the group has now taken on a much more fluid idea of who plays what instrument. All three members of the band are very proficient on the common ones: guitar, bass, and drums. During live performances, they switch back and forth multiple times throughout a set, with Cisneros also adding occasional woodwinds, horns and keys to the mix. The overall tone of Completely Removed is less flashy than it’s predecessor, but the parts are more knotted and dense — there are even some unashamed guitar solos sprinkled throughout. Medications’ sound was heretofore defined (with a few exceptions) by a somewhat standard template of trebled-out distorted guitar, a booming picked bass, and franticly precise drumming. While that spirit is still alive and well with the band, the new album offers more variance in the tones and dynamics of all the instruments they use.

Melodically and harmonically, Completely Removed is a move in a different direction as well. These are, for the most part, happy songs. They don’t carry the paranoid and angry edge of so much of Medications’ previous output, and most exude a certain major-key joy. Like the closing refrain of “Long Day”, the first song to be released from Completely Removed, where Ocampo sings “Oh, the day is so long” repeatedly over a tightly muted chug. It doesn’t seem an exclamation of a beleaguered and resigned narrator, but a statement of triumph over the notion of time slipping by faster and faster with every day we live. “Kilometers and Smiles” is a song that could pass for an Abbey Road B-side, starting out as a prog-bass workout and peeling open into wordless vocal harmony that carries through a few meter changes. On album closer “Tame on the Prowl”, the band seems to be chasing the same pastoral pop dragons that Field Musicians David and Peter Brewis have been slaying for a few years now.

All told, Completely Removed is a healthy step forward for Medications. It’s the self-assured work of a group that isn’t worried about virtuosic posturing. It shows off through thoughtful composition and meticulously transparent production.



Dr. Dog's Scott McMicken

Since 2001, Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog have been making music in the classic mold of groups like The Beatles and The Band, fleshed out with beautiful harmonies contributed at times by every member of the quintet. Principal songwriters Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman lead the way, trading off between McMickens soft-spoken tenor and Leaman’s McCartney-esque howl (think “Oh Darlin”). Their new album, Shame, Shame, is out April 6th on ANTI- records. Scott talked to REAX at the Harvest of Hope festival in St Augustine.

REAX: Do you say “an-TIE” or “an-TEE” records?
McMicken: I kind of bounce back and forth. I’m not really sure of that word.

REAX: When I see it, I freeze up because I’m scared I’m going to say it the wrong way and someone is going to judge me for it.

REAX: You put out a lot of material for how often you’re touring. How long ago did Fate come out?
McMicken: I think that was July of…2008?

REAX: Is there any influence that has changed in your songwriting as far as the material on Shame, Shame goes?
McMicken: Yeah, I think so. I think in one way I feel like it’s more about the influence of ourselves these days, rather than drawing as closely to all of our external influences over the years. It felt like this album was about – I mean, granted, everything about the way we sound has been arrived at through our influences, of course. But, we’ve been playing live so much over the past five or six years, that I feel we’ve really started to gain a much clearer sense of what that meant, what we sounded like, what we enjoyed, and what worked for us. So we went into the studio thinking more consciously about that, the live show. In the past every time we’ve gone to record, we kind of shut off that idea of the live show and try to do something different.

REAX: To focus on a studio creation? You feel this is more spontaneous?
McMicken: Yeah, and more gut-based. Going off the feel of things rather than the sonic texture.

REAX: When you record a song, do you do a lot of variations on it, experimenting with different instrumentation?
McMicken: There’s a LOT of that. It feels like we don’t allow ourselves to feel all that confident about what we’ve arrived at unless we’ve tried it several different ways. With this record, for sure. We didn’t start recording until August, but June, July and most of May, too, we were just getting together everyday and playing these songs different ways. In the end, you wind up with these Frankenstein creations of THIS aspect of THAT version, combined with THIS thing that worked from THAT version. You arrive at conclusions that are, for us, not the most immediate ones, but by far the most exciting.

REAX: Does that mean you have a lot of recordings of alternate versions of songs that have never seen the light of day?
McMicken: Yeah. Lots of that.

REAX: Do you have plans to ever make any of that stuff available?
McMicken: I guess to us those things serve a purpose, but they’re rendered useless once we’ve pulled from them what about them works.

REAX: Relegated to Draft status?
McMicken: Yeah, and I don’t think many of us feel super confident about listening to those, and that’s the nature of what they were there for. But, there are always so many other songs that maybe only enter that phase, but never get finished. Those tend to have more legs than the ones that we actually finish. We’re always trying to figure out ways of putting out stuff like that, songs that weren’t released. Then you don’t have this frame of reference on what it’s supposed to sound like. It just is what it is.

REAX: You know what was awesome, is the two songs on Fate that had live performance videos included with the iTunes download, “From” and “Hang On”. Have you done anything like that for this album?
McMicken: No, not yet, but we’ve talked about it, and a few other things that include some of that documentary-style window on the process.

REAX: You guys have gotten more attention with every album that you’ve put out over the past few years. Have you been seeing that whenever you head out on a new tour? Are you getting a more enthusiastic response and bigger crowds?
McMicken: Yeah. Yeah, without a doubt. It’s really exciting. It feels good, ‘cause we’ve been doing this a long time, you know? It’s never been this explosive overnight thing for us, yet there’s always , every six months or so, this kind of change in climate when we go out on tour. It feels really good, because it feels like there are a lot of people there who have been coming for years. The way I figure it is it’s mostly people talking to their friends, word of mouth getting around. That’s why it’s taken us 6 years of touring to get to this point. So it really feels like arriving somewhere tangible, rather than getting a whole lot of attention all of a sudden.



Next he'll change his name to Cortaniel