Sebadoh | DNO89
Even before his acrimonious departure from Dinosaur Jr, bassist Lou Barlow was recording his own material. Dinosaur's second album, 1987's You're Living All Over Me, had closed with "Poledo," one of Barlow's tape experiments - a chilling mess of funereal folk and disturbing, manipulated found sounds. Lou, it transpires, had been messing about with tape recorders since he was a kid. "My sisters had one of the first cheap tape-recorders," he remembers, "And my cousin showed me that if you half-press the 'ffw' button and the 'record' button and yell into the mic, it'll make this nice stretched-out groaning sound. That cracked me up! I started making cassettes of me playing guitar and singing, real primitive multi-tracking, when I was about twelve. Twenty-five years later, I still have them somewhere."
As he became more and more estranged from Dinosaur front man J Mascis, Barlow immersed himself in his home-recorded music. He made cassettes and began selling them through small 'indie' record stores. "I did it for myself, primarily, but with the understanding that other people would find it. It immediately made sense to some people, like Eric Gaffney." Gaffney, a singer/guitarist/drummer Barlow describes as "a musical terrorist," would form the yin to Barlow's yang in Sebadoh for their first two self-released cassettes, The Freed Weed and Weed Forestin. Together, they'd collate impenetrable experiments, fucked-up songs, confessional folk fragments, and collages of ambient and found sounds, bouncing off each other, trying to outdo each other in this explosion of errant creativity. Theirs was a productive, if fraught relationship. Jason "Jake" Loewenstein, a teenaged musician and home-recorder who'd already purchased Sebadoh tapes, joined the group, and they began to tour. "It was all about freedom and democracy, this chaos" explains Barlow.
They were hella productive boys, too. This remastered re-release of the album comes bolstered with a disk swollen with tracks recorded around the time of III's sessions. The bonus disk opens with the group's Gimme Indie Rock! EP, it's sardonic title track an ecstatic homage-to/deconstruction-of the burgeoning indie-rock genre, complete with shout-outs to Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore and even Dinosaur. "I felt the music of the underground had become one-dimensional, noisy, and I wanted to fashion my own response to that," Barlow told Mojo magazine, last year. "I knew I was on the right track, when people said I was a 'pussy' for playing an acoustic guitar. I'd found my new passion: quiet was the new loud."