LISTEN LIKE THIEVES: Sebadoh’s “Soul And Fire”

Released roughly halfway through their recording career, Bubble & Scrape captured Sebadoh as a band in most profound transition. Since inception, Lou Barlow, Eric Gaffney and Jason Loewenstein had ever been more a wonderfully chaotic collective of individuals following their own erratic, crazy-paved paths than the typical, rigidly-defined group. All three wrote and sang their own songs, while live performances would play host to regular bouts of instrument-swapping, as one member stepped up to the microphone as the previous ‘frontman’ returned to the drumkit — stemming from Barlow’s desire that Sebadoh be an entirely democratic process, in contrast to his experiences as erstwhile bassist with Dinosaur Jr. Sebadoh’s early cassette releases, The Freed Man and Weed Forestin’, spanned a broad spectrum of radically-skewed ‘pop,’ veering from introspective strum to out-there noise to found-sound collage with a stoner’s graceful stream-of-consciousness. By the time Sebadoh wrote and recorded their fourth full-length in 1993, the three members were writing and singing in more confident and distinct voice than ever before. Contained within the two sides of Bubble & Scrape, those voices — Lou’s muted, emotive and disarmingly honest ballads, Jason’s increasingly rockular riff-outs, and Eric’s thrillingly genius psychotic squalls — formed a most beguiling harmony, complimenting and perfectly off-setting each other. Bubble & Scrape would also, however, prove to be Eric Gaffney’s final album with Sebadoh. The re-activated Sebadoh will perform Bubble & Scrape in its entirety at the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago.

MP3: “Soul And Fire” (acoustic demo)

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