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Sebadoh

As much a collective of musicians as a band, Sebadoh was the quintessential lo-fi band of the '90s. Formed by singer/songwriter Lou Barlow while he was the bassist for Dinosaur Jr. in the late '80s, Sebadoh's music was a virtual catalog of '80s alternative rock and '90s indie rock, featuring everything from jangle pop to noise-rock experimentalism. After being kicked out of Dinosaur in 1989, Barlow turned his attention toward Sebadoh, a home-recording project that he and drummer/songwriter Eric Gaffney began in 1987. Sebadoh soon developed into a backing band for both Barlow and Gaffney, as each submitted home-recorded tapes for release and toured behind the albums. Eventually adding drummer/songwriter Jason Loewenstein, the trio became an indie rock sensation, as well-known for the size and inconsistency of its output as the music itself. Often, Sebadoh sounded schizophrenic, flipping between Barlow's sensitive folk-rock and Gaffney's noise experiments without warning. This very diversity became the band's calling card, and by 1992 they had earned a devoted following. As the media focused on Barlow -- who also released a number of solo records under the name Sentridoh -- Gaffney grew frustrated. Gaffney left in 1994, and with new drummer Bob Fay, Sebadoh produced its most accessible albums -- Bakesale and Harmacy -- which expanded its cult somewhat. Despite the group's flirtation with (relatively) polished production and the fluke success of Barlow's side project Folk Implosion, Sebadoh remained a cult band and became one the largest touchstones of '90s indie rock.

Sebadoh began as an outlet for Lou Barlow's frustration with J Mascis, who refused to let Barlow contribute songs to any Dinosaur Jr. releases. In 1987, Barlow released Weed Forestin', a cassette of acoustic songs he had recorded at home on a four-track recorder, under the name Sentridoh. The cassette was sold at local Massachusetts record stores. Eric Gaffney contributed percussion to Weed Forestin', and when Barlow had a break from Dinosaur in 1988, the duo recorded The Freed Man, which consisted of songs by both songwriters. Also released as a homemade cassette, The Freed Man worked its way to Gerard Cosloy, the head of Homestead Records. Cosloy offered to release the cassette on his record label, and the tape was revised and expanded into a full-length album. Homestead released The Freed Man in 1989, and shortly after its appearance, Mascis kicked Barlow out of Dinosaur, and Lou turned his attentions toward Sebadoh. A revised and expanded Weed Forestin' was released in early 1990; the two records were combined on the CD The Freed Weed later that year.

By the end of 1989, Sebadoh added a full-time drummer, Jason Loewenstein, on the suggestion of Gaffney. Sebadoh began playing concerts regularly, concentrating on Gaffney's material and throwing in a few Barlow songs for good measure. Where their albums were acoustic-oriented, their concerts were noisy ventures into post-hardcore and Sonic Youth territory. Over the course of 1990, the group was active only sporadically, deciding whether they wanted to pursue a full-fledged career; a few 7" singles of primarily acoustic material appeared that year. As of early 1991, the band began recording electric material, as evidenced by the EP Gimme Indie Rock! Released early in 1991, Sebadoh III was divided between Gaffney's electric songs and acoustic material by Barlow and Loewenstein. The band was prepared to embark on its first major tour when Gaffney abruptly left the band before it embarked. Barlow and Loewenstein carried on, initially performing shows as a duo, but soon hiring Bob Fay as a drummer. Upon the completion of the tour, Gaffney returned to the band, but during his absence, the direction of Sebadoh's music had shifted away from his songs and toward Barlow's.

Following a full-length national tour in the fall of 1991, Sebadoh recorded five of Barlow's songs as a demo tape that served as its gateway to contracts with Sub Pop in the U.S. and City Slang/20/20 in the U.K. Gaffney left the band at the end of the year, and the group again hired Fay as a replacement. With Fay, Sebadoh toured America and Europe in early 1992, recording the British EPs Rocking the Forest and Sebadoh vs. Helmet, which were combined later that year on the Sub Pop album Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock. Gaffney again returned to the band after Sebadoh released these recordings, with Fay again leaving the band. Barlow and Loewenstein had begun to tire of Gaffney's constant sabbaticals, and Lou returned to his Sentridoh project, releasing a series of EPs, 7" singles, and cassettes over the course of 1993 and 1994. Sebadoh released its fifth album, Bubble and Scrape, in the spring of 1993 and spent the remainder of the year touring behind the record, building their cult across America and Britain. Gaffney left for a final time in the fall of 1993 and Fay became his permanent replacement.

Before recording the sixth Sebadoh album, Barlow began a new band with John Davis called the Folk Implosion; the duo released three recordings over the course of 1994. Sebadoh returned with Bakesale, their first album without Eric Gaffney, in the summer of 1994. Boasting a somewhat more accessible sound, Bakesale became the group's most successful album to date, generating the near-modern rock hit "Rebound." The band took a break in 1995 and the Folk Implosion recorded the soundtrack to the controversial independent film Kids. Surprisingly, Kids spawned a genuine hit single with the haunting, hip-hop-tinged "Natural One," which climbed all the way into the Top 30 of the U.S. pop charts. In light of the success of "Natural One," Sebadoh's next record, Harmacy, was expected to be a hit upon its fall 1996 release. Though it didn't match commercial expectations raised by "Natural One," Harmacy expanded the success of Bakesale, becoming the first Sebadoh album to chart in the U.S..

Before the recording of their follow-up to Harmacy, Sebadoh replaced drummer Fay with Russ Pollard. After a string of delays, the revamped lineup released their first album, the cleverly titled The Sebadoh, in February 1999. After a tour supporting The Sebadoh, the band announced that they were to go on hiatus to focus on other projects. Barlow continued his work as Folk Implosion while also releasing two solo albums, 2003's Emoh and 2009's Goodnight Unknown, while Lowenstein went back into the studio to record his solo album, 2002's At Sixes and Sevens, and also to work with other bands including Fiery Furnaces. With the reissue of albums Sebadoh III, The Freed Man, and Bubble and Scrape in 2007, the original Sebadoh lineup of Barlow, Lowenstein, and Gaffney reunited for a string of live dates for the first time in some 14 years. With Barlow reuniting with former band Dinosaur Jr. to record and play live, Sebadoh was put on hold and in 2011, with the reissue of albums Bakesale and Harmacy, Lowenstein and Barlow recruited drummer Bob D'Amico to play some live dates in support of their release. With the trio clicking as a unit, the three-piece re-entered the studio and set about writing new material. In 2012, the band announced the release of the Secret EP. Available as a digital download, the five tracks would help fund the recording of their next studio album. In 2013, the group announced they had signed a new deal with Joyful Noise Recordings and that their ninth album, Defend Yourself, would be released that September. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Defend Yourself

1. I Will

2. Love You Here

3. Beat

4. Defend Yr Self

5. Oxygen

6. Once

7. Inquiries

8. State Of Mine

9. Final Days

10. Can't Depend

11. Let It Out

12. Listen

13. Separate

x

Track List: The Sebadoh

1. It's All You

2. Weird

3. Bird In The Hand

4. Break Free

5. Tree

6. Nick Of Time

7. Flame

8. So Long

9. Love Is Stronger

10. Decide

11. Colorblind

12. Thrive

13. Cuban

14. Sorry

15. Drag Down

x

Track List: Harmacy

1. On Fire

2. Prince-S

3. Ocean

4. Nothing Like You

5. Crystal Gypsy

6. Beauty Of The Ride

7. Mind Reader

8. Sforzando!

9. Willing To Wait

10. Hillbilly II

11. Zone Doubt

12. Too Pure

13. Worst Thing

14. Love To Fight

15. Perfect Way

16. Can't Give Up

17. Open Ended

18. Weed Against Speed

19. Smell A Rat

x

Track List: Bakesale

1. License To Confuse

2. Careful

3. Magnet's Coil

4. Not A Friend

5. Not Too Amused

6. Dreams

7. Skull

8. Got It

10. Give Up

11. Rebound

12. Mystery Man

13. Temptation Tide

14. Drama Mine

15. Together Or Alone

x

Track List: Bakesale (Deluxe Edition)

Disc 1

1. License To Confuse

2. Careful

3. Magnet's Coil

4. Not A Friend

5. Not Too Amused

6. Dreams

7. Skull

8. Got It

9. S**t Soup

10. Give Up

11. Rebound

12. Mystery Man

13. Temptation Tide

14. Dramamine

15. Together Or Alone

Disc 2

1. Mor Backlash

3. Foreground

4. 40203

6. Drumstick Jumble

7. Lime Kiln

10. Give The Drummer Some

11. Cementville

12. Social Medicine

13. On Fire (Acoustic)

14. Magnet's Coil (Acoustic)

15. Rebound (Acoustic)

16. Punching Myself In The Face Repeatedly, Publicly

19. Monsoon

20. Rainbow Farm

x

Track List: Bubble & Scrape

1. Soul And Fire

2. Two Years Two Days

3. Telecosmic Alchemy

4. Fantastic Disaster

5. Happily Divided

6. Sister

7. Cliche

8. Sacred Attention

9. Elixir Is Zog

10. Emma Get Wild

11. Sixteen

12. Homemade

13. Forced Love

14. No Way Out

15. Bouquet For A Siren

16. Think (Let Tomorrow Bee)

17. Flood

x

Track List: Bubble & Scrape 15th Anniversary Reissue

1. Soul And Fire

2. Two Years Two Days

3. Telecosmic Alchemy

4. Fantastic Disaster

5. Happily Divided

6. Sister

7. Cliche

8. Sacred Attention

9. Elixir Is Zog

10. Emma Get Wild

11. Sixteen

12. Homemade

13. Forced Love

14. No Way Out

15. Bouquet For A Siren

16. Think (Let Tomorrow Bee)

17. Flood

x

Track List: Smash Your Head On The Punk Rock

1. Cry Sis

2. Brand New Love

3. Notsur Dnuora Selcric

4. Vampire

5. Good Things

6. Cecilia Chime In Melee

7. Everybodys Been Burned

8. Junk Bonds

9. New Worship

10. Mean Distance

11. Pink Moon

12. Mind Meld

x

Track List: The Freed Man

1. Healthy Sick

2. Level Anything

3. Soulmate

4. Ladybugs

5. Close Enough

6. True Hardcore

7. Julienne

8. Wrists

9. Amherst Hanging House

10. McKinley's Lament

11. Solid Brown

12. Narrow Stories

13. Bridge Was You

14. Drifts On Thru

15. Overturns

16. Yellow Submarine

17. Squirrel Freedom Overdrive

18. Little Man

19. Land Of The Lords

20. Bolder

21. Believe

22. Deny

23. Wall Of Doubt

24. Crumbs

25. I Love Me

26. K-Sensa-My

27. Lou Rap

28. Punch In The Nose

29. Resistance To Flo

30. Stop The Wheel

31. Loose 'n' Screw

32. Oak Street Raga

33. Last Day Of School

34. Jealous Evil

35. Moldy Bread

36. Made Real

37. Cindy

38. Nest

39. My Decision

40. Fire Of July

41. Jaundice

42. Design

43. Dance

44. Cyster

45. Powerbroker

46. The Lorax

47. Pig

48. Hung Up

49. Slow To Learn

50. Elements

51. Attention (Live)

52. Your Long Journey

x

Track List: Defend Yourself (Bonus Track Version)

1. I Will

2. Love You Here

3. Beat

4. Defend Yr Self

5. Oxygen

6. Once

7. Inquiries

8. State Of Mine

9. Final Days

10. Can't Depend

11. Let It Out

12. Listen

13. Separate

x

Track List: Secret EP

1. Keep The Boy Alive

2. My Drugs

3. Arbitrary High

4. I DonEt Mind

5. All Kinds

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Dinosaur Jr. is way better. I can see why J kicked him out of the band. This guy sucks.
Report as inappropriate
jwm3392
horrible
Report as inappropriate
wonderful indie lo fi band.
Report as inappropriate
Oh, se, the word bad is right there in the middle of the band name. How could I miss that. I also saw a lame show by them 20 years ago, with band members whining about this'n'that. Oh well.
Report as inappropriate
rburtt457
C*unty.
Report as inappropriate
beckystonehi l l
Such inequity.
Report as inappropriate
It drives me crazy now that I realize I missed out on this band. Where the hell was I.
Report as inappropriate
shaun.gebo
Saw them in New Orleans around 1999. Awesome show, no problems.
Report as inappropriate
spcunningham n v
Saw Sebadoh at least 4 times, or should I say I saw Lou whine about the sound 4 times. Tryin' to see a good show from them was impossible.
Report as inappropriate
lol stupid hipsters
Report as inappropriate
Funny - whenever Eric Gaffney took over the songs I always ended up plugging my ears. Don't get me wrong- I'm a fan of noise experiments, just *good* ones. I think Barlow could write hooks with the best of them. He could show vulnerabilit y , anger and humor at the same time in a way that perhaps only Morrisey could rival. Look - if you like tortured romantic, "bay at the moon" lyrics put to good, minimalist music , Barlow was the man.
Report as inappropriate
Yeah my fav stuff on bakesale is not Barlow's. He played w/ his "solo band" opening for the new Dino J, it was rawful and boring.
Report as inappropriate
Bakesale pwnz
Report as inappropriate
Sorry . . . Soul and Fire sounds like Pete Yorn . . . was listening to bubble & Scrape on Pandora!
Report as inappropriate
This one sounds a bit like Pete Yorn?
I like it . . .
Report as inappropriate
heard them play bub/scrape front to back last summer in Chicago. Right next to me was a group of 20-ish dudes all singing the words in unison and LOUDLY (sort of funny). But when they all swapped instruments 2 or 3 songs in, they commented "WOW!, thats f-ing COOL!!" If I had one more ounce of beer in me wouldve pissed myself.
Report as inappropriate
joelhorton
Lou was the "Anti-J" for most of my life...and as a founding member of the J Mascis Disciples (aka JMD)I dismissed him and his recordings.. . B u t in 2005 Lou Barlow repented and I now acknowledge his contribution s to the music world.
Report as inappropriate
underwood_no i s e l e s s
I know that Lou gets most of the attention, but some of Jason Loewenstein' s stuff is pretty darn good too, such as "Got It" on Bakesale...
Report as inappropriate
stortiw
I heard there were a lot of bromide01's out there. I assure you they are all imposters. I am the clever one
Report as inappropriate
i prefer them over most indie rock bands
Report as inappropriate
earwax issues. Q-tips. Fitter, happier.
Report as inappropriate
bromide01
I heard that nobody cared about two Indie rockers "fighting".
Report as inappropriate
that line about how j. wouldn't let lou contribute songs to dinosaur is a load of you know what. lou contributed songs to the first album and you're living all over me (forget the swan). j. actually wanted lou to step up to the plate before the recording of bug because he was going through a bout of writers block, but the way these guys didn't communicate is legendary.
Report as inappropriate
I never travel far without a little bakesale. fantastic cohesive vibe on that one.
Report as inappropriate
good to see that sebadoh III was re-issued. that there is some good stuff.
Report as inappropriate
sebadoh kick a**
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Why the hell do i love this band so much!?
Report as inappropriate
.

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