Chinese Herbal Medicine – Aquatic (2020)

In 2016, Chinese Herbal Medicine received the title of “Coolest Band in the World” by Rolling Stone Magazine – a title that can inflate anyone’s ego, particularly a band that was only three years in the making. Since its inception, Chinese Herbal Medicine has released four albums and undergone several lineup changes. The fourth and most recent of their repertoire is Aquatic.

Right from the get-go, Chinese Herbal Medicine plunges the listener in a whirlpool of hard rock. Beginning with the energetic ‘States’, the trio from Los Angeles establish themselves as a powerful rock band reminiscent of The Who. The similarity to the legendary The Who continues through to the slower ‘Get My Head Right’. With vocals like Roger Daltry, frontman Philip Goldman shares compelling messages with the listeners looking at the state of society, insecurity and coping as an adult in the 21st century.

The track ‘When We Fucked It All Up Again’ reminds me more of The Doors than The Who with its increased focus on ambient sounds. Just as you find yourself encompassed in a vortex of post-rock, Chinese Herbal Medicine picks up the pace in ‘Way Oh’. ‘Way Oh’ is a buoyant track with faster vocals, guitar and drums – definitely, something to get the crowd jumping!

The most intriguing aspect of Aquatic is the raw passion expressed in all of the tracks. While Goldman’s vocals are significant in the intensity of Aquatic, it is the Rich Kratt’s deftness with a lead guitar and the powerful pounding of drums by Thom Furtado that keep a person bopping. After listening to nine impassioned tracks, it is clear to see that Chinese Herbal Medicine deserve the title of Coolest Band in the World. In my opinion, this is a rock band with talent equivalent to the epic 70s rock bands. If there was another Woodstock, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this trio as the headliner.

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