Sebadoh | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Sebadoh's new album Bakesale proves there's something to be said for self-editing. With the off-the-cuff, decidedly ragged collections Freed Man and Weed Forestin, which were never intended to be released as albums, the band blazed the way for the lo-fi obsession that's infected much of indie rock. At first much of their charm lay in their reckless abandon: record everything, release it all, and let the listener sort it out. But as the band (anchored by former Dinosaur Jr. bassist Lou Barlow) fluctuated between being honest, affecting musicians and calculated irritants, that once-charming looseness came to seem more like contempt for the audience. They curbed the slipshod garbage on last year's Bubble & Scrape; now, with the departure of snotty noise monger/cofounder Eric Gaffney, Sebadoh has become a band you might actually want to sit down and listen to for more than 15 minutes. Barlow and other key songwriter Jason Loewenstein write highly emotional tunes loaded with strong, folkish melodies that suggest the trio's musical power rather than clobbering audiences over the head with it; the effortless pop of "Skull," the twisting, manic energy of "License to Confuse," the primitive stomp of "Give Up," and the simple, arching, plaintive ballads Barlow excels at show cohesion but not predictability. Opening Sunday's show is the amazing Japanese duo Ruins, a sublimely tensile bass-and-drum team who play a wacked-out, operatic prog-hardcore, making their Chicago debut. Saturday, 10 PM, and Sunday, 9 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620. There's also a free in-store performance Saturday at 4 at Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway (404-5080).

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Charles Peterson.

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