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