A subjective, truncated guide to the work of the city's newest musical treasure
for the unacquainted Angeleno

#1 The Freed Weed [Homestead, 1990]: A compilation of JIM, Jr.: Sebadiscography Sebadoh's first two tapes, Freed Man and Weed Forestin'. Lou lays down two-chord acoustic heartbreak pop embraced snugly by a blanket of "lo-fi" fuzz, followed by Eric Gaffney's folk dada. All this periodically interrupted by some fairly hilarious samples. LOU CLASSICS: It's So Hard To Fall In Love, Brand New Love.
#2 III [Homestead, 1991]: Considered amongst "old school" Sebafans to be the band's classic album, with the introduction of Jason Loewenstein their first as a trio. A sprawl that encompasses rollicking punk, the signature 4-track folkcore sound, a couple hillbilly workouts, "experimental" stuff that still holds together, and, um, a Johnny Mathis cover. SEBADOH FUN FACT: Gaffney refused to play on the recorded version of album-opening hate letter to J Mascis "Freed Pig" b/c the song was "evil." LOU CLASSICS: Spoiled.
#3 Smash Your Head On The Punk Rock [Sub Pop, 1992]: A compilation of two European release EP's, Rockin' The Forest and vs. Helmet. The first album appearance of erstwhile Gaffney replacement Bob Fay. Electric Sebadoh end-to-end. Lou is producing "plugged-in" full band arrangements that still manage to give the listener that feeling. Eric is folding into himself and producing ever farther-out freak outs. Jason makes some very affecting Slint-y postpunk. What you're missing from the EP's: oft-referenced, reference-heavy anti-anthem "Gimme Indie Rock" and a few electric remakes of Lou's early-day acoustic songs on Rockin'; only the electric version of "Soulmate" is deleted from vs. Helmet to Smash Your Head. LOU CLASSICS: Vampire.
#4 Bubble and Scrape [Sub Pop, 1993]: Another fan favorite. Lou mines the "soft-loud" Nirvana dynamic to heartrending effect on his songs, before it became utter cliché. Jason kicks out a few hardcore jams and sneaks in an amazing (mostly) acoustic gem, "Happily Divided." Eric's tunes are sinking further and further into a solipsistic Beefheartian hell. This will be the last album on which his compositions appear. SEBADOH FUN FACT: the title from this album is not a play on a reported working title for the White Album (Bubble and Squeek), as rumored, but rather derived from the name of a process by which griddles at greasy spoon diners are cleaned at the end of the day, by heating up until the sludge melts and, well, scraping. LOU CLASSICS: Soul & Fire, Think (Let Tomorrow Bee)
#5 Bakesale [Sub Pop, 1994]: "Sebadoh cleans up" was supposed to be the story here. Many Sebafans turned on to the band with this album, and as such this is another favorite. Eric drums on four songs. This is Bob's first album as official, full-time drummer. A consistent fuzzed-out, hyped-up, jangle-and-crunch rawk sound makes some call this a same-sounding album. Others (such as myself) treasure this as an album of great tunes produced in a pleasant "mid-fi" (Lou's word) manner. SEBADOH FUN FACT: That is indeed Lou's "lumpy" baby ass on the cover. Bob is the child on the back cover showing off the ribbon. As far as we know, Jason appears nowhere in the National Geographic style photo on the inset. LOU CLASSICS: Skull, Together or Alone.
#6 Harmacy [Sub Pop, 1996]: A huge dichotomy appears between Lou's generally down-tempo soft/pop-rock approach and Jason's generally thrashing hard/ screaming punk tunes. This is Bob's last album as official, full-time drummer. Some gripe because many of Lou's songs have previously been released as B-sides and compilation tracks. Admittedly, "On Fire" and "Willing to Wait" (previously, "Beautiful Friend") seem to suffer for the dress-up from their stripped-down acoustic incarnations. LOU CLASSICS: Too Pure.
#7 The Sebadoh [Sub Pop, 1999]: Available in the US January 1999. We wait with bated breath. LOU CLASSICS: Love Is Stronger...
Other recommendations:
* Dinosaur Jr., You're Living All Over Me [SST, 1987]: This is the classic everyone says it is. Seminal to grunge (remember grunge?), shoegazer, and indie rock styles. If someone tells you that this album is overrated, that J's guitar work is actually sloppy, derivative, and weak, don't trust him. Beautiful, expressive solos by Mascis; amazing instrumental work by J, Murph, and Lou; J's whining, off-key vocals actually work to great emotional effect; beneath the two tons of distortion there is ne'ery a weak song. Also, here appears "Poledo," the first Lou song in the Sebadoh style to gain wide release.
* Sentridoh, Winning Losers [Smells Like Records, 1994]: Ten of Lou's most accessible 4-track songs placed end-to-end, this will turn the faint-of-heart on to "lo-fi" sounds. Beautiful and raw.
* V/A, The KIDS Soundtrack [London, 1995]: Lou and Jon Davis leave the bedroom and hit the studio with a vengeance, producing great hip-hop beats. Working with samples and sinuous grooves comes surprisingly easily to these jokesters whose previous mission was "no shame... just make up the most retarded song" (Lou's words). The rich melodies, however are no surprise. And that ten-ton drum stomp on "Natural One" (aka "the hit") was live drumming by Jon himself.
* Palace Music, Viva Last Blues [Drag City, 1995]: No-one likes this Palace album except me. That wily backwoods (or whatever) loner Will Oldham dresses up his songs of damnation and alienation in a full-band country-rock arrangement produced with signature dryness by Chicago noisemeister Steve Albini. Louisville homeboy and Sebadoh stalwart Jason Loewenstein contributes tight drumwork and occasional right-on backing vox to the proceedings. "New Partner" is one of my favorite songs.
* The Sixths, Wasps' Nest [London, 1995]: Either an all-star (?) indie rock tribute to Stephin Merritt or the lost Magnetic Fields' album. Mac from Superchunk, Dean from Luna, Mary from Helium, Barbara Manning, Lou, and others lend vocals to Merritt's synth-mope pop soundscapes. Stephin picked Lou to sing "In The City In The Rain" because of the sibilance of his speech. It's beautiful, not to be missed.