Review Summary: A minor classic that holds its own2 of 2 thought this review was well written Bakesale - Sebadoh
Sebadoh is well remembered for their third album, aptly titled III. Therefore, Sebadoh is well remembered for an album of mismatched, mainly acoustic, rambling lo-fi songs, which were good but hardly accessible. Bakesale is a huge difference in style, with many catchy indie rock songs of a considerably higher fidelity. However Bakesale wasn’t a huge leap of styles. Sebadoh’s album prior to this release was a good mix of lo-fi acoustic takes and the indie rock that was the identifiable trait of later Sebadoh releases, so this album was a natural step in the band's process to deepen their footprint in the ground of the music world.
Obscure metaphors aside, Sebadoh at the time of this album were:
In 1994 "indie" had pretty much peaked, with many bands releasing what is considered their best work. Pavement
released Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Guided by Voices
released Bee Thousand, and Weezer
had their Blue Album, all highly acclaimed indie/alternative rock albums. In my opinion, Bakesale sits amongst these as classics within their genre, even if it is far less known.
Bakesale starts with License to Confuse
, a poorly named song that is a decent opener to a more than decent album. It is a catchy, fast paced tune, with an odd structure, but the drums hold it together well, though after not long the song ends and then Careful
starts. Careful is a rather angry song for one of this genre (typically members of the indie crowd are usually too stoned to be angry) but it’s better than the first track, and is probably the first highlight. Magnet’s Coil
for some reason is a favourite of mine. I’m not too sure why though, as it’s a fairly run-of-the-mill, simply structured rock song with a basic chord pattern, but there’s just something that makes this song work so well, though I can’t get what it is.
After three rocking songs, Not A Friend
slows things down a little, and lets the album draw a breath and gives Lou and friends a chance to show us Sebadoh’s slower and more emotional side, which is a bit of a flashback to their older albums. Not a friend has some nice guitar work and soft vocals, both of which are courtesy of Lou and is a pleasant, mellow song. This leads nicely to Not Too Amused
which is probably my second favourite song on the album, this time with Jason singing. Not Too Amused is a song with lyrics that kind of suit the title, it’s basically a not too flattering description of someone who the singer is “not too amused” with. The guitar (and the bass as well, by the sound of it) has a soft overdrive that suits the mood, and it really adds to the song as it builds and builds, and the lyrics get more spiteful and Jason sings much louder, almost to the point where he is shouting. This is a definite highlight, and it even has somewhat of a (gasp) guitar solo towards the end.
actually sounds very similar to the last song, and is almost just as good, it’s just a shame that it is overshadowed by it. Dreams continues the line of softer songs, though you can tell that the album is about to come back to the more rocking songs. The song continues to build, and there are even strings of sorts at the end. Unfortunately the song is a bit forgettable, but is important in bridging the softer songs back to the rocking songs. like [b]Skull[/]. Skull starts out like a slower soft song, but then the drums kick in and you realise that the album has come back to the more upbeat rock tunes. It is a good mix of upbeat drumming and mellow guitar, but then the song builds up to a more lively part towards the end: the drums become more driving and distortion kicks in on the guitar, there’s a small solo and then it breaks back down to the mellow bit again then ends another one of the album’s highlights.
sounds strangely similar to Careful at the start, then becomes something of it’s own. Got It is sung by Jason, and it jumps quickly from a verse that switches between two chords and then a fuzzy chorus that…well…pretty much does the same. There’s nothing about this song that stands it out from the rest, but this by all means does not make it a bad song. *** Soup
(written as S. Soup on the digipak) is much more rocking song and seems to be in 6/8 time. It is probably the heaviest song on the album, with distorted guitars, and even distorted vocals at one point. The song has a distinctive rhythm pattern that you just can’t help to tap along to. It’s a nice, heavy, rocking song that sounds quite angry at parts, which makes it rather disarming. Now we’re up to Give Up
which upon listening to while writing this review, I realise I hardly recognise from previous listens, and it’s not much of a wonder, it’s basically a throwaway song that isn’t sure if it wants to be a heavy guitar based song, or a fast and steady, almost country-like song. Luckily it’s not too long, which is a good thing, as Rebound
is the next song.
is similar to Magnet’s coil, but more catchy with more of a distinct chorus and a memorable lead guitar line. The drumming really stands out here, and compliments the relatively fast paced guitar parts with ease. This song just reinforces the upbeat and catchy reputation that this album, after the first 10 or so tracks, has already earned. I also have a feeling that Sebadoh made a video for this song. Mystery Man
goes back to sound of the softer songs on the album, and therefore is generally a soft acoustic song with a laid back drum pattern supporting it. The song then progresses to a bit of a heavier bit at the end and finishes not long after.
is an interesting song, as none of the members of Sebadoh have lead vocals, instead a woman, Tara Jane O’Neil (according to the credits) sings here. She has a very nice voice that is soothing and dreamy, and Jason sings in the background with some kind of tremolo effect on his voice. Other than that, this song would be pretty repetitive if it went for any longer, however it finishes at the appropriate time of 1:53. Now we get to the last good track on the album, and is my favourite song on this album, and indeed, by Sebadoh. Drama Mine
has a noticeably weird title (presumably a play on the word dramamine), which seems irrelevant to the lyrics, but the guitars are really quite emotional while being harsh at the same time. The song, like *** Soup, has a noticeably rhythm to it, but as far as I am concerned the song is almost ruined by an annoying break down to just a guitar strumming some chords, then comes back to the harsh, rhythmic guitars. The song has a lot of feeling to it, and in my opinion is the last highlight of the album.
Actually Together or Alone
isn’t too much of a bad song either, but it just feels that the album should have ended on Drama Mine. This song would have been much better placed earlier in the album, in with the slower, more slightly heartfelt songs. Together or Alone has some nice dynamics to it, with distinct soft and loud parts.
This album is almost a 5/5, but it just falls short of it due to a small number of minor problems, which include the placing of the last song, and the way that some songs sound very similar. However, it is one of those albums that you can listen to from start to finish without feeling the need to skip any songs. I find that 90% of the songs are of a very high standard, with just a couple being a little too forgetful. So I’ll give this album a 4.7/5
(rounded to 4.5/5)
Not Too Amused
EDIT: I spose this ended up more of a description than a review.