“Classic Album Showcase: The Sebadoh.”

* “The learning curve for performing this stuff is short; the learning curve for
enjoying it is non-existent.”
– Louis Menand, The New Yorker

In one of the better written articles on rock and roll I’ve ever observed, the above shown Menand in a Fall ’15 issue previews a biography on early sound engineer and DJ Sam Phillips, and traces the beginnings of the raucous music that has shaped our lives. The learning curve is non-existent… so why is it that when I go to a Sebadoh link on youtube and start to share it on facebook, it just doesn’t play with that same flare, it doesn’t slay in the classic way as when I put it on on my good ol’ Sony CD boombox?
Is it possible that that CD in my old, dusty, pube-infested booklet is actually acting as an ARTIFACT? The Sebadoh came out in 1998, the last year before file sharing launched and, as some artists believe, essentially killed off music commerce. Sebadoh in the late ’90’s are a band lean, mean, and hungry — five or so catchy, jangly albums under their belt, but little or no notoriety in middle America, probably not taking themselves seriously enough, not blowing up every relationship qualm to cosmically domineering proportions, to the point of rock radio qualification. They would comically oppose burlesque hardcore with psychedelic, sun-scorched rock and roll, like on the first two tracks of Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock, and it was FUN: it reminded you that nothing really matters, as long as everybody’s gettin’ loose.
Was there TALENT in the early Sebadoh? Why, a scary amount: see their haunting cover of “Wonderful, Wonderful,” featuring easily the best guitar tone of all time, at the number’s end. See the bludgeoning post-expressionist to-the-beat poetry malignant in “As the World Dies the Eyes of God Grow Bigger.” At the end he’s all “Blood on the walls!”, and sh**. God, somebody really thinks his band should be bigger than they are.
And come ’98, it’s time for another rock album with a bright red cover. And don’t let the band’s penchant for blending optimum attributes of the Lemonheads and Oasis [1] fool you: this is still intimidating music, just like Nirvana was. Rock music is and always was and will be the music for angry people, the rebellious: and Sebadoh would fit in great at this upcoming Riot Fest (which I think Jimmy Eat World also does, mind you). But maybe they’d steal the show, like Foxygen did at Solid Sound ’13, and everybody would just start hating them.
[1] Funny story: I went to Twist and Shout in probably ’08 or so thinking maybe I’d get some Oasis and some Lemonheads (and bracing myself for some scowls from the workers there), and I ended up forgoing both in favor of the adequately occlusive The Sebadoh. The track that really did it was “Weird.”

Leave a Reply