Old Music Tuesday: Sebadoh

I feel like I'm getting a second chance to live through the '90s. It's not just my hearing Weezer for the first time; it's all the reissues that labels have been dropping on us: Beck's Odelay, Air's Moon Safari, and Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville are a few.

Now comes a new reissue, this time from Sebadoh: a 15th-anniversary edition of the band's 1993 classic Bubble and Scrape.

I'm not sure how I ever missed this band. I actually did have friends who listened to and loved Sebadoh. I may have heard some of Sebadoh's music at a party or in a bar and not realized it, but I never owned any Sebadoh and couldn't have told you anything about it.

When I saw the Bubble and Scrape reissue come in a few weeks ago, I set it aside in my "I-should-hear" pile. NPR Music producer Stephen Thompson noticed the CD and told me to check out the opening cut, "Soul and Fire." He said it was one of the mopey anthems of his college years — played over and over again on a cassette as he cruised between school and his part-time job at the I-94 Dairy Queen, where he wore a hairnet and dreamed of being a rock star.

Okay, I made that last part up. But I took his advice and cued up the first track. I figured it'd be a little background noise for whatever work I was doing, but I soon found myself motionless, staring off into the distance, absolutely transfixed by the song. When it was all over, I hit the back button and listened again — in fact, I probably listened to that song 20 or 30 times in the week that followed. I later played it for a roomful of friends who all reacted the same way.

The rest of Bubble and Scrape is just as mesmerizing. Even if you already own the album, the reissue is worth getting: It includes an astounding 15 bonus tracks, including an acoustic demo version of "Soul and Fire."

I'll put this album on my shortlist of the year's best discoveries, even if I should have found it years ago.

Listen to "Soul and Fire" from Bubble and Scrape:

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Wow. Thanks for this. Before the song was over, I'd bought it on ITunes. Interesting history to who they are too--just read about them on ITunes--you might want to tell people where they came from.

Sent by Tom EG | 10:47 PM | 7-8-2008

yes, you shoulda checked them out years ago...and if you liked soul and fire, you should immediately go pick up Emoh, which is Lou Barlow's somewhat recent solo record.

Sent by steve | 12:01 AM | 7-9-2008

You are full of all kinds of new discoveries, Robin! How can a band that has album names like "Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock" not be great. Lou Barlow and J. Mascus used to be in a band named Dinosaur, the precursor to Dinosaur Jr. I saw Dinosaur play at a time when nobody (including me) knew a thing about either of them. I would check out Skull from "Bake Sale". Same sentiment, but different. There are some good songs on that album...

Sent by Mark C. | 12:52 AM | 7-9-2008

very useful information

Sent by http://www.mp3nest.com | 2:22 AM | 7-9-2008

I love the Freed Weed!!!

check it out next... like a punch in the nose.

Sent by daniel | 9:35 AM | 7-9-2008

speaking of fire. Another amazing tune is "On Fire" the first song on Harmacy.

Great lyrics about talking with your foot in your mouth ... something I can really relate to.

Sent by daniel | 11:52 AM | 7-9-2008

Can anyone confirm how to pronounce Sebadoh? Want to tell others but don't want find out that "seba" rhymes with Reba, or whatever...

SEB (like jeb) - uh-doe - rh

Sent by Tom EG | 3:25 PM | 7-9-2008

Wow! Thanks for the blog. Found a new favorite song and have had a lot of fun today finding out about Sebadoh.

You're welcome! Check out Dinosaur Jr. and Folk Implosion, too. - rh

Sent by Stu | 4:34 PM | 7-9-2008

Your post-modern folk-core saviors: Sebadoh! They are genius.

Sent by xtina | 9:05 PM | 7-9-2008

I think Billy Zero must have read your blog, Robin. He's playing this on XMU (XM Satellite)right now.

Sent by Andie Reid | 1:10 PM | 7-10-2008

no hairnet? love the album's title.

Sent by jehan | 1:26 PM | 7-10-2008

also, i'm gonna recommend the first snow patrol record, "songs for polar bears." it's kinda low-key melodic rock like this song.

and thanks everybody else for those other suggestions!

Sent by joshua | 10:50 AM | 7-14-2008

I've been listening to older podcast episodes, and I wanted to share two bands that I've found a real joy over the years who don't receive the attention they deserve. They both use violins in very evocative, creative ways and both have singers who's voices reach into one's solar plexis.
The Wild Colonials is an LA band that features Angela McCluskey, a Scotland-born singer whose smokey voice has been featured on Telepopmusik and with Dr. John, among others. She can sing Billie Holiday-style blues or haunting pop songs (hear, e.g., "Spirit" on This Must Be Life (w/backing vocals by Rickie Lee Jones). Paul Cantelon plays a variety of styles on the violin, often with a gypsy or Middle Eastern feel, and Scott Roewe adds keyboards and even the occasional didgeridoo. Shark provides guitar; various drummers have played with the band, including Chick Corea's sun. All of the band members have interesting side projects, primarily film work (e.g., Paul recently provided the soundtrack for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). They are still working as a band in LA and have put out the first of 4 parts to their next LP.
The Horse Flies are an Americana band from upstate New York that feature violin, often in conjunction with banjo. Judy Hyman plays a variety of fiddle styles, often with a folk influence; the addition of Jeff Claus's voice provides the emotional center of the band (think Neil Young meets the Samples) with songs that range from humorous (e.g., Roadkill) to the highly emotionally charged (e.g., Cold Out There, Your Eyes are Elevators). Their latest recording, Until the Ocean, finds them in a consistent Americana mood. They did three wonderful soundtrack albums for Jay Craven's movie versions of 3 of Howard Frank Mosher's excellent local color novels of the Vermont/Canadian border. Their 1991 album, Gravity Dance, is well worth seeking out, and an intervening album (Birds Fly Backwards, when they recorded as Boy with a Fish) is also a delight. They record on Funkyside Records.

Thanks for this opportunity to share information about two great, little known bands.

Sent by Rob Aken | 12:22 PM | 7-15-2008

Sebadoh reminds me of "Granddaddy" from Modesto, California

Sent by Adelina | 3:45 PM | 7-15-2008

I just got this last week, I'd been meaning to check out Sebadoh because I'm a big Dinosaur jr. fan.

I had a similar reaction to Soul and Fire as yours. Whole album is fantastic

Sent by Joey | 1:38 PM | 7-22-2008