Sebadoh / Defend Yourself

September 11, 2013

Written by: Jason Ribadeneyra


Defend Yourself

Out Sept 17th on Joyful Noise Recordings


Every article about Sebadoh’s new record Defend Yourself will begin with “After a 14 year hiatus…” Those are the rules. I think about what I was doing when “The Sebadoh” came out in ‘99. I was barely graduating high school, I know that much. Fucking English class. I was stocking shelves at a Big Y supermarket, getting high with my friends as much as possible and fighting with my girlfriend the same amount. Simpler times. I remember leaving work one fall night and when I finally got my Buick to turn over I heard “Flame” playing on the radio for the first time. I’ll never forget hearing it like that. So here I am 14 years later back in my hometown with no job and no car radio to hear any songs off of Defend Yourself for the first time, just a computer. No romance. Brave new world.

Anyways, let’s just get right into it cuz I‘m starting to get nostalgic. First thing I feel when I start listening to Defend Yourself is that it’s one part Bakesale, one part Goodnight Unknown (Lou Barlow‘s 2nd official solo record) and one part brand new Sebadoh album! I don’t know if my math is legit but I do know that there’s some gold in this. It’s got the dirty bass, four string guitar and lots of sensitive/cynical lyrical content that you’d expect from Lou Barlow and Jason Lowenstein and the spot on beats of new drummer Bob D‘Amico.

“I Will” starts it all off with Lou’s vocals front and center until the bass breaks in guns blazin’ like its ‘95 all over again. Its good to have ‘em back. The first couple tracks are Lou’s but it’s Jason’s song “Beat” that really get things going. It’s grinding and aggressive with lots of off-kilter hooks and “Telecaster in a cave” breaks. I should also add that Lou Barlow’s distinctive bass lines haven’t sounded this good since “Homemade.” A very powerful 3 minutes. Lowenstein’s songwriting has been leaning towards the Nashville side nowadays and nowhere is this more apparent than on the great laid back track “Can’t Depend.” This is no surprise after listening to his songs off 2012’s Secret EP and is a welcome addition to all the styles contained inside the Sebadoh universe. He’s a truly gifted songwriter who is often overlooked and has contributed some of his best work to this record. Can’t wait to hear his songs live.

Lou Barlow continues creating his own brand of noise with his down stroke heavy numbers. “State of Mine” which I heard introduced as “Calves of Champions” during an early performance (evidently the calves reference is about Rob Corddry who’s daughter goes to the same school as Lou’s and has spectacular calves) and “Oxygen” find the band really locking in and creating awesome sounds. My favorite track is probably “Let It Out” a simple strummed song that to me sounds like separation and moving on. It’s one of Barlow’s best, up there with “Soul and Fire” and “Spoiled.” One thing that I’ve always loved about Lou’s songs is the fact that you could often find 4-track versions and hear how the song grew and listening to “Let It Out” I can almost hear how it would sound with bedroom tape hiss and acoustic distortion. Just a stunning track.

It’s obvious that Defend Yourself isn’t going to win them a new audience or bring tons of new fans flocking to see them live but that’s not what it’s about anyways. It’s about bringing something to the fans who’ve stuck with the band and remember crying to Weed Forestin’ after the breakup with Krista sophomore year. Thank you.

Just Gimme Indie Rock

Jasen Ribadenera


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