Sebadoh “Weed Forestin'”

Homestead 1990

Sebadoh is currently on tour in support of the reissue and remaster of their classic album Bakesale, making them the next in a long line of 90’s bands to reunite and revisit their halcyon days in front of a new generation of audiences. (It also makes the second one of these to feature neurotic indie icon Lou Barlow, also the original bassist of Dinosaur Jr.) But that’s not really why I’m writing about Sebadoh at the moment. I’m writing about Sebadoh because currently, I can’t stop listening to Lou Barlow’s first recording issued under the Sentridoh name, Weed Forestin’, which was reissued as a Sebadoh album following their debut, The Freed Man.

I’ve done a bit of research, and it seems Weed Forestin’ is more or less universally regarded as the worst Sebadoh album, but it’s always been one of my favorites. Granted, if you listen to it from a producer’s perspective, it sounds like it was recorded in a trash can, thus this may be precisely where it belongs. But there is beauty in this garbage – under all that tape hiss are little bottled-up explosions rocked on the ukulele, sewn together with random media bits and repeated orchestral themes into a veritable lo-fi opus. Plus, almost every song on the first side is downright classic, including (but not limited to) the deadpan kickoff of “Temporary Dream”, the bedroom punk of “New Worship”, the African folk tinges of “Subtle Holy Gift”, and “Jealous of Jesus”, probably the best 20 second song ever written.

Then of course, the last two songs on side two – “It’s So Hard To Fall In Love” and “Brand New Love” – are two of the best songs Barlow has ever penned. (Both songs were covered by Superchunk and are available on their Tossing Seeds singles collection.) But because they are buried at the end of the record, and under mass amounts of sonic overload that many listeners might not have the patience for, people often disregard the greatness of Weed Forestin’. I mean, these songs are recorded on tape recorders in one-or-two-take fashion with whatever instruments were available, so could these songs have been produced better? Maybe, but who is to say?

I think one reason I may regard this record so highly is I link it in my mind to my beginnings as a self-recorder, or engineer, or whatever. Weed Forestin’ taught me it was ok to record yourself on a shitty tape recorder and to love and appreciate whatever you come up with. That’s really the beginning of being able to make music, just learning to like whatever comes. When I think of Sebadoh “the band”, I’m probably in the same camp as most fans in that I consider Bakesale their finest moment. But when I think of Lou Barlow records, Weed Forestin’ sits at the forefront. It may not be his best, but it doesn’t have to be – it’s an entity, and it feels alive, like it changes periodically. That kind of record is tough to make.

(See Sebadoh at recordBar in Kansas City, MO on Wednesday, Feb 16)

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One Response to “Sebadoh “Weed Forestin'””

  1. Tweets that mention Sebadoh “Weed Forestin’” « Record Geek Heaven -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Dead Girls, hellohawk. hellohawk said: Record Geek Heaven is excited for the return of @realSeBADoh. […]

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