Thursday, August 27, 2009
I've gotta write this review before it drives me completely insane. Friend of the blog Liz decided to request and album that is 70+ minutes in length with a series of songs that rarely exceed the minute-and-a-half mark. In layman's terms, this is a long long album with lots and lots of songs and man I can't wrap my head around it! It doesn't matter how good the music is, I am so terrible with long albums. Even when I listen through them two or three times I don't feel like I'm listening hard enough or I'm not getting those lyrics down or - you know, I'm just not doing the artist justice here. As of this writing I have only listened through Sebadoh's Freed Weed one-and-three-quarter times. How is that enough?? I'm the laziest man in the world. Let's just do this thing.
Freed Weed, I have heard, is a collection of Sebadoh's earliest work. It's a combination of tracks from their first couple releases: 1989's Freed Man and 90's Weed Forrestin'. Upon further research - and I literally just noticed this - Forrestin' comprises the first half of this album, with bits of Freed Man comprising the second. It's not like it matters all that much, considering that both albums sounded pretty similar anyway, so I'm just going to save myself the trouble and refer to The Freed Weed as its own entity.
I can't talk about specific tracks right now. Can't do it. They all go by so fast! Let me just talk about how this album sounds: downtrodden, loose, poorly recorded. The lowest possible lo-fi, with the exception of the songwriting (because, y'know, it's Lou Barlow and he's good). I have no idea how much of this music was written with the expectation that other people would listen to it. From the sound of it, it just seems like Lou Barlow and Eric Gaffney's cute little project. Most of this was recorded while Lou was still bassin' it for Dinosaur Jr., right? Am I right? I have no idea. I distinctly remember reading in Our Band Could Be Your Life about how, at this point, Lou was just so intimidated by J Mascis's songwriting that he was too shy to take his own songs seriously. I mean - I can see where he was coming from, considering that Mascis was at the top of his game in the 80's, but man. The guy was just not interested in recording his songs in a nice way!
I like a lot of songs on here, though. What I can remember, at least. Let me scan through the tracklisting here and shoot off some names: "Punch In The Nose" I LOVE. What's with those horns? Is that a trumpet? I don't know horns too well. But it's such a funny, catchy melody. "Brand New Love" is pretty, and what's that near the end? A sped-up sample of Dinosaur Jr's classic "The Lung"! A great song hidden in a great song. "Slightest Suggestion" is haunting beauty despite all that tape hiss. "Jealous Of Jesus" was funny before I even heard it. Lyrics: "Everybody wants to dance with Jesus / Nobody wants to dance with me." "Bolder" is interesting but it doesn't sound like Lou, unless he fudged with his voice or something. Oh, and the intro to "True Hardcore," in which Mr. Barlow lovingly claims that "This is a ripoff of every other song I've ever done." Ha-ha! I wouldn't agree with him but it's a funny thing for a man to say.
Lou Barlow has a heck of a nice voice. Does anybody ever complain that he's too wimpy or mopey? Or over-emotional? I don't think he is, but I worry that others might think he is. Maybe he borders on it a little bit. But honestly, I would go out on a limb and say the guy has a nicer voice than J Mascis. I mean, I'm not taking anything away from J - in the context of Dinosaur Jr., his warbly vocals are perfect. But Lou's is a lot more appealing to my ears. More flexible, I guess.
I'm sorry for this nothing-for-nothing review of Sebadoh's The Freed Weed. My consensus: I do enjoy it. It's pretty consistently melancholy, and not every song is gonna stick in your head, but the ones that do are real winners. The guy was a talented songwriter! This is not the first Sebadoh album I have heard - that would be III, which I heard about a year ago and generally enjoyed. But man, that one sounds polished compared to these songs. "The Freed Pig", have you heard that song? Compared to these songs that is a bonafide pop-rock song! Also a GREAT GREAT song that is great.
Lou Barlow also wrote my favorite song on Dinosaur Jr.'s Beyond, "Back To Your Heart". I'm an idiot and I haven't listened through Farm yet so I don't know what songs he did on that. But I'm sure they're memorable! Lou Barlow, talented man. Indie-rock-nerdy guy with a lot of heart. I'm repeating myself.
By the way, I was wondering if anybody noticed (or cared), but I am never writing about video games in this blog again. Ever. Maybe a passing reference, but nothing else. Gaming culture is just - I can't contribute to it. I have nothing to say. I'm afraid! I put up a positive review of Final Fantasy IV DS about a year ago and it made my good friend Ben Vigeant very upset with me. Legitimately upset. I just have nothing new or interesting to say.
What I realize is this - I love video games so much. I mean, to death. How can I not? The first music I ever loved was video game music. It was there before I even started listening to the Beatles, for god's sake. But it's because of this - this instinctive love of certain genres of games from my youngest years - that I have no confidence in my own tastes in games. My only current-gen console as of this writing is a Wii, and I have four games for it - all first-party Nintendo. Almost every game I have played through in the past year has been a Japanese RPG on the Super Nintendo that I have emulated on my computer. So who the shit would wanna listen to what I have to say about any game at all? Who cares? I don't get angry at bad games the way I do about bad music. Some shitty Iron Man movie-based piece of crap isn't going to get me riled up like the new Panic at the Disco album. When I write about music, I feel entirely confident. I never feel that way about video games.
It's just different. Playing a video game is so totally different than listening to music. It's - you're putting yourself into something. It's an experience. An even more personal experience than music, for me at least. And I have no idea how to talk about that, or how to be discerning about it. It gets to the point where I'll listen to a Retronauts podcats from 1up.com, and actually get upset because they'll get all cynical about old games I like! And I'll be like, "What? What was so bad about the Gamecube?" and shut the thing off. I don't get it. How could you get angry about something like Donkey Kong Country when Say Anything is still making money?? I can't do it. Can't.
But hey. Lou Barlow. Sebadoh. Better than any stinkin' VIDIOT game!! That's how my mom always referred to video games. Very clever of her.
Also, a bit of a P.S.: My buddy Emily Neumann has formed a band, apparently. They are called Terrella. I never thought of Ms. Emily as a musically-inclined human being (not meant as an insult) so I was kinda surprised when she told me about it, but pshh! Good for her! I haven't gotten a chance to listen to them yet but they apparently need a rhythm guitarist. So join their band while you can! Before they hit it big and you're sittin' around with your rhyhtm guitar not knowing what to do like some kind of idiot.