Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A moment of inept grace brought to you by...

Play it: Sebadoh III (Reissue w/ bonus tracks)
Download: "Freed Pig" / "Gimme Indie Rock" (Domino)

Originally released about the same time as Nirvana's Nevermind, Sebadoh's III was essentially the flip-side of the same underground coin. Same paranoia-inspired angst, just funnelled through different influences and a far different recording process. While Nirvana polished up their raw sound via the shiny production of Butch Vig, Lou Barlow and Eric Gaffney were making their recordings via tapes n' (duct) tapes (lo-fi.)

This album, along with Nevermind (and Pavement's Slanted & Enchanted) served as the backdrop to my late college years, so it's hard for me to look at the album through any other lens. The angst and confusion throughout the album seemed like a mirror, and it's still inexorably linked to that time. Barlow was at his best when he was working out his post-adoloscent frustrations through song, whether it be J Mascis and his Dinosaur Jr firing ("Freed Pig,") or his hot/cold relationship with (future wife) Kathleen Billus ("Kath.") Meanwhile Gaffney's songs seem to come from another dimension ("As the World Dies the Eyes of God Grow Bigger.") Can't imagine how it sounds to someone for the first time today, most likely a schizophrenic mess, but I remember it was this pinball-like experience that kept you coming back to the album.

The title III invariably has two meanings, as not only is it their third release, but they also added Jason Loewenstein to make the lineup a threesome. While Loewenstein's contributions to the album are generally not tremendous, there's still indicator's of the great work he would create later on. While Gaffney was still with the group (he left in '94, before Harmacy,) Loewenstein always seemed to take the role of 'lukewarm water' to Gaffney's fire and Barlow's ice, both in the songwriting, and in the live shows as well.

Speaking of live shows, the only time I saw this seminal lineup together was at the Offramp here in Seattle (August 16th, 1993) nearly 13 years ago, and the fire and ice bit was on full display. Lou threatening to hit audience members over the head with his 12-String, and fussing and pouting between songs ("You guys should've been in Portland last night, we played awesome for them... you guys are getting sh*t from us,) Gaffney screaming out his numbers, all while Loewenstein smiled, smoked and enjoyed himself.
Download live Sebadoh: August 16th, 1993 @ The Offramp, Seattle (first half only)

Bonus tracks on the reissue also feature the great Gimme Indie Rock 7", which featured the anthem title track, famous for the lyrics:
Gettin' loose with the Pussy Galore
Cracking jokes like a Thurston Moore
Pedal hopping like a Dinosaur - J (cue gratuitous solo snippet)...
Also included is "Showtape '91," which features hilarious pre-recorded introductions Barlow made for their live shows (used up through '93.) Favorites of the bunch:

* Another evening of oppressive noodling, courtesy of... Sebadoh!
* The fire, the wind, the heartbeat... a live experience, surely among the top 10 this year... Sebadoh!
* A moment of inept grace brought to you by... Sebadoh!
* Battling monumental indifference, sadly overlooked as creatively inferior bands are basically treated like geniuses and receive enormous recording budgets, buns up to corporate waste-mongers... Sebadoh!
* Taking every opportunity to subtly manipulate your expectations for a moment's amusement, becoming suddenly bored by your immature attempt to engage our approval with your typical butt-licking fanboy fervor... Sebadoh!

and my personal favorite:
* Laughing at your shortcomings, taxlessly wielding destructive honesty to protect themselves from true feeling, eagerly buttf*cking your grandpa... Sebadoh!

The Blueprint (reissues of first 3 Dinosaur Jr. Albums)

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drake leLane said...

Sebadoh - III

Disc 1
1. The Freed Pig
2. Sickles And Hammers
3. Total Peace
4. Violet Execution
5. Scars, Four Eyes
6. Truly Great Thing
7. Kath
8. Perverted World
9. Wonderful, Wonderful
10. Limb By Limb
11. Smoke A Bowl
12. Black Haired Gurl
13. Hoppin' Up And Down
14. Supernatural Force
15. Rockstar
16. Dowmind
17. Renaissance Man
18. God Told Me
19. Holy Picture
20. Hassle
21. No Different
22. Spoiled
23. As The World Dies The Eyes Of God Grow Bigger

Disc 2
1. Gimmie Indie Rock
2. Ride The Darker Wave
3. Red Riding Good
4. New King
5. Calling Yog Soggoth
6. Stored Up Wonder (Supernatural Force)
7. Melting Wall (Holy Picture)
8. Design
9. Attention
10. Stars For Eyes
11. Unseen Waste
12. Violet Execution |(Remix '04)
13. As The World Turns
14. Cranberry Bog
15. The Devils Reggae'
16. The Freed Pig (4-Track)
17. Never Jealous
18. Showtape '91

J Shifty said...

Now there's the historical and personal perspective this addition deserved! Cheers, sir.

And thanks for advocating Destroyer. That one mostly slipped by me earlier, but I'm enjoying it with vigor today.

drake leLane said...

Thanks J... you know I wouldn't know how to comment on this album w/o it getting personal... just one of those albums that just is of the time is came out. That and it feels all so personal for Barlow, it's hard for that not to rub off.

Destroyer's a great one to get into, considering the wealth of back catalogue to be obsessive about.