As it turns out evolution is not as we thought. It’s not as simple as monkeys turning into men. Hundreds of thousands of years ago. A few kinds of humanoids existed at the same time and only one of them evolved into humankind. There were, many evolutionary dead ends and only one kind of pre-hominid evolved into humans. I liken this scenario to the years in between the “alternative” years of the 90s and the “indie” years of the last eight years or so. The early 90s was a changing of the guards, a revolution of new bands. However what no one could have ever expected is that so many of these 90s bands would not rein over the musical world for long. And neither would their ancestors. After the early 90s wave ended, most of these band’s evolutionary ancestors have all but died out. One of the few exceptions — Sebadoh.
Sebadoh’s zen-like rough-hewn pop was new for its time. Purposely lo-fi. Purposely not neurotic. Purposely high as hell. Sebadoh’s leader, Lou Barlow had been famously booted from Dinosaur Jr (no evolution pun intended) and the pain from that breakup fueled a “fuck you … if I could get off the couch” stream of great songs, different than anything that had come before.
1994’s Bakesale, was a classic, with super catchy slacker gems like “Skull” and “Rebound,” Barlow proved to be a songwriter of, and ahead of, the times. Barlow and new collaborator Jason Loewenstein found ways to marry the alternative sound of the day with more brittle and more effusive instrumentation. Sometimes sparse and acoustic, sometimes abrasive but always hooky, Bakesale turned the slacker generation on its head by reacting to, rather than nuzzling up to 70s influences unlike most of the other bands of the 90s. This rejection of macho man 70s rock is a key to why Sebadoh’s music stands the test of time. As our culture betters and changes, we find our culture is more like Lou, our music more like Sebadoh. I think that’s cool.
Well, Sub Pop has re-released an expanded and remastered version of Bakesale. The remastering really brings a pop to the record that it may not have had in the CD era. The new volume and clarity really separate and define the clever instrumentation from both. These guys were always clever instrumentalists and this new remastering only deepens that point. The added tracks … Well … let’s just say that often a band knows what it should leave in and leave out, however real fans may get a an extra kick hearing alternative versions of the songs they already know and love. Bakesale was a classic and its new aural enhancements only make it a fitter beast destined to survive generations of listeners.
Words by Stephe Syke