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Sebadoh

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Biography

Formed by singer/songwriter Lou Barlow, Sebadoh were one of the key bands of the '90s lo-fi movement, their music encompassing sounds ranging from jangle pop to noise-rock experimentalism. Sebadoh began in 1987 as Barlow's side project while he was playing bass in Dinosaur (later Dinosaur Jr.), with Barlow creating informal and homebrewed music in a semi-pro recording project with drummer/songwriter Eric Gaffney. When Barlow was kicked out of Dinosaur in 1989, Sebadoh became his main concern, and it grew into a backing band for both Barlow and Gaffney's songs. Sebadoh earned a reputation for the size and diversity of its output, flipping between Barlow's sensitive folk-rock and Gaffney's noise experiments and back again, celebrating their noisy tunefulness on 1991's III and 1992's Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock. As the music media focused on Barlow, Gaffney grew frustrated and left Sebadoh in 1994. With Barlow as uncontested leader, Sebadoh produced its most accessible albums -- 1994's Bakesale and 1996's Harmacy -- whose relatively tight performances and cleaner production earned them college radio airplay and expanded their following into modest indie rock success. After the release of 1999's The Sebadoh, the group splintered and the members pursued other projects, but in 2013, Barlow revived Sebadoh for the album Defend Yourself. 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 they left. 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 going 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 released the Secret EP; available as a digital download, the five tracks were intended to help fund the recording of their next studio album. In 2013, Sebadoh signed with Joyful Noise Recordings and their ninth album, Defend Yourself, was released that September. Solo projects and recording and touring with Dinosaur Jr. kept Barlow busy for the next several years, but Sebadoh reconvened to record 2019's Act Surprised and launch an international tour. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Rebound
  3.   Skull
  4.   Magnet's Coil
  5.   Ocean
  6.   Soul and Fire
  7.   License to Confuse
  8.   The Freed Pig
  9.   Together or Alone
  10.   Careful
  11.   Phantom
  12.   Leap Year
  13.   Act Surprised
  14.   Truly Great Thing
  15.   Got It
  16.   Forced Love
  17.   Willing to Wait
  18.   Weird
  19.   Violet Execution
  20.   Calves of Champions
  21.   State of Mine
  22.   Flame
  23.   Melting Wall (Holy Picture)
  24.   Brand New Love
  25.   Calling Yog Soggoth
  26.   Kath
  27.   True Hardcore
  28.   As the World Dies the Eyes of God Grow Bigger
  29.   Monsoon
  30.   Red Riding Good
  31.   New King
  32.   Scars, Four Eyes
  33.   S. Soup
  34.   Lime Kiln
  35.   40203
  36.   Healthy Sick
  37.   Never Jealous
  38.   Black Haired Gurl
  39.   Mind Reader
  40.   Holy Picture
  41.   Limb by Limb
  42.   Everybody's Been Burned
  43.   Sister
  44.   Separate
  45.   Gimmie Indie Rock
  46.   Renaissance Man
  47.   You Are Going Down
  48.   Perfect Way
  49.   Telecosmic Alchemy
  50.   Drumstick Jumble
  51.   Fantastic Disaster
  52.   Not a Friend
  53.   I Smell a Rat
  54.   Flood
  55.   Happily Divided
  56.   Part 1: Lou
  57.   Beauty of the Ride
  58.   Sixteen
  59.   Worst Thing
  60.   No Way Out
  61.   Think (Let Tomorrow Bee)
  62.   Give the Drummer Some
  63.   Too Pure
  64.   Sforzando!
  65.   Stored Up Wonder (Supernatural Force)
  66.   Cliche
  67.   Prince-S
  68.   Visibly Wasted II
  69.   Temptation Tide
  70.   Love to Fight
  71.   Sickles and Hammers
  72.   Hillbilly II
  73.   Zone Doubt
  74.   Fancy-Ass/Destitute
  75.   Homemade
  76.   Foreground
  77.   Cementville
  78.   Not Too Amused
  79.   Reykjavik
  80.   Belief
  81.   Battery
  82.   Sunshine
  83.   Fool
  84.   See-Saw
  85.   Medicate
  86.   Follow the Breath
  87.   Celebrate the Void
  88.   Stunned
  89.   Oxygen
  90.   Beat
  91.   All Kinds
  92.   I Don't Mind
  93.   Arbitrary High
  94.   My Drugs
  95.   Keep the Boy Alive
  96.   Punching Myself in the Face Repeatedly, Publicly
  97.   Mor Backlash
  98.   III Screams
  99.   Part 4: Jason
  100.   Part 3: Eric
  101.   Messin' Around
  102.   Flood/Ken
  103.   I Love Me
  104.   K-Sensa-My
  105.   Lou Rap
  106.   Resistance to Flo
  107.   Loose N Screw
  108.   Oak Street Raga
  109.   Last Day of School
  110.   Wrists
  111.   Julienne
  112.   Close Enough
  113.   Ladybugs
  114.   Deny
  115.   Believe
  116.   Land of the Lords
  117.   Squirrel Freedom Overdrive
  118.   Yellow Submarine
  119.   Overturns
  120.   Drifts on Thru
  121.   Solid Brown
  122.   McKinley's Lament
  123.   Amherst Hanging House
  124.   Your Long Journey
  125.   Elements
  126.   Slow to Learn
  127.   Hung Up
  128.   Pig
  129.   The Lorax
  130.   Powerbroker
  131.   Cyster
  132.   Dance
  133.   Jaundice
  134.   Fire of July
  135.   My Decision
  136.   Cindy
  137.   Unseen Waste
  138.   Stars for Eyes
  139.   Attention
  140.   Design
  141.   Mean Distance
  142.   Crumbs
  143.   Wall of Doubt
  144.   Narrow Stories
  145.   Nest
  146.   Level Anything
  147.   Made Real
  148.   Stop the Wheel
  149.   Bridge Was You
  150.   Moldy Bread
  151.   Jealous Evil
  152.   Punch in the Nose
  153.   Little Man
  154.   Ride the Darker Wave
  155.   Sorry
  156.   Cuban
  157.   Break Free
  158.   Shit Soup
  159.   Soulmate
  160.   Weed Against Speed
  161.   Open Ended
  162.   Crystal Gypsy
  163.   On Fire
  164.   Downmind
  165.   Supernatural Force
  166.   Smoke a Bowl
  167.   Total Peace
  168.   Mind Meld
  169.   Pink Moon
  170.   New Worship
  171.   Junk Bonds
  172.   Cecilia Chime in Melee
  173.   Good Things
  174.   Vampire
  175.   Notsur Dnuora Selcric
  176.   Crisis
  177.   Bouquet for a Siren
  178.   Emma Get Wild
  179.   Sacred Attention
  180.   Two Years Two Days
  181.   Drama Mine
  182.   Mystery Man
  183.   Dreams
  184.   As the World Turns
  185.   Once
  186.   Love You Here
  187.   Listen
  188.   Perverted World
  189.   Imminent Emergency
  190.   Rainbow Farm
  191.   Final Days
  192.   I Will
  193.   Can't Depend
  194.   Bolder
  195.   Sing Something/Plate of Hatred
  196.   Nothing Like You
  197.   Defend Yr Self
  198.   Spoiled
  199.   Hassle
  200.   Inquiries
  201.   Old Daze
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