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The Sebadoh
Drag City

It's been some years since Lou Barlow was squeezed out of the then Indie Rock darlings Dinosaur Jr. by the big ego of the eccentric J. Mascis. But Lou landed on his feet and together with Jason Loewenstein he evolved Sebadoh - who's taken over the Indie Rock darling hegemony. Sebadoh has been releasing a long line of records over the years - this must be the 10th album or something like that? - and the question is if the big dance thing of 1999 will be: Do the Sebadoh!

Since Harmacy (1996) Sebadoh has changed their address and switched drummer. They've moved out west to California, and Bob Fay has left the band. The drum kit is taken over by Russ Pollard, who, like his predecessor has contributed to the song-writing. The fine (and slightly psychedelic) Break Free should be just the right argument for allowing him to write more than one song next time. Like on the last album Jason has written a couple more songs than Lou, and they alternate between vocals + guitars and bass, depending on who's the composer of the song. Jason's got the more restless and loosely aggressive style, with some reminiscence of Minutemen/fIREHOSE or maybe Mission of Burma, and even the Screaming Blue Messiahs (for those who remember them), while Lou's songs mainly are of the calmer and smoother type. But, of course there are exceptions, like the single choice Flame with its staccato rhythm being sort of monotonous riff- rock, but of a dizzy and relaxed nature. Despite some good songs by Jason, I prefer the Lou song book. Love Is Stronger is a beauty ballad, while Sorry shows that Sebadoh has almost taken over as the new R.E.M., while R.E.M. floats away on their routined route of senior college rock. Another couple worth mentioning are the catchy Weird ("Paranoia's contagious...") and the more quiet Tree. Of Jason's songs the opening track It's All Yours sets the Sebadoh mood of The Sebadoh quite well. Nick Of Time has got fascinating rhythm, while Thrive is Jason in a quiet corner. Also check out the energetic Cuban, which sounds like Don van Vliet dancing on a Cuban beach.

So, is The Sebadoh Sebadoh at their best? Yes, I think so, at least so far. It's a more focused and precise album than, say Harmacy, which I liked a lot. And, despite the fact that they've had some greater songs in the past, The Sebadoh will take them one step further, close to the fence where rock-stardom begins. But, they're still Sebadoh, the "eternal" crown princes of Indie-land. Gimme Indie Rock!

Copyright © 1999 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Sebadoh article/review: Defend Yourself.

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