Review Summary: Founded by 3 music geeks and a truant high school quater back Screaming Trees originated in that breeding ground for bands in the 90's that was Seattle. Unlike Nirvana, Pearl Jam et al they wern't megastars. They were the nearly men of the Grunge era.
This album (Ocean of Confusion) is a collection of songs by the Screaming Tress that were recorded and in some cases released during the period of time between 1990 and 1996. The Screaming Trees were a fantastic combination of classic rock and indie-punk attack. They were influenced as much by Cream as they were Black Flag; it's this range of influences that formed the yin and yang in their music. Hard rock excess tampered by hardcore aggression and punk. Perhaps the most astounding thing a bout the album is the voice of Mark Lanegan. His is one of rocks truly great singers, his rich baritone is startling in the mix of the music, but to great effect.
1.Who Lies in Darkness
This 1990 reording from the EP "Something About Today" is a great introduction to the sound. With a whirling guitar riff and Mark's rich baritone this track is a top statement of intent. The song has managed to grasp grunge's elemental power and melancholy feel. But it still manages to retain a whiff of garage rock thanks to the fuzzy guitars, a quality that clearly influenced many of the 90's grunge giants.
The Trees had spent years trying to pen a track like this, by the time it came around their style had changed but this song is a fitting end to that period. From "Uncle Anesthesia" which was produced by Chris Cornell is a great pop song, The song is catchy beyond belief and shows just how good musicians they were. Watch out for the great guitar solo.
This track, noticably slower paced that the rest of the tracks from this early period, begins with a stummed guitar and a horn section. Whilst at first you feel a little bemused as the song progresses the guitars and horns interact very weel each coming up more prominantly in different parts of the song. This song is highly reminiscent of 70's rock acts, or as others argue Neil Young. This is an influence that will re-apper in other points in the compilation.
4.Ocean of Confusion
This track, is the Trees punk roots laid bare. The fuzzy-alt guitars and the the quick tempo is what Cream would sound like if they covered Black Flag. This is definatley one of "Uncle Anesthesia's" better tracks.
5.Shadow of the Season
This song is possibly the song that shows Lanegan's baritone is one of the greatest voices in rock. The first verse shows his voice in fine form, and the chorus has you singing like there is no tomorrow. This is a quality that all these bands seemed to have, behind all the feedback and the shouting you could always find a drve-time melody.
6.Nearly Lost You
This song was a minor MTV hit in 1992 as it appeared as the Soundtrack for the grunge Rom-com "Singles". It was the closest they got to the big time, even scoring a slot on The Letterman show. The echoed vocals in the breakkdown are trippy and hypnotic, a possible nod to all their psychadelic influences. Another song stuffed with hooks. This track scored hours of radio airplay due to just how great it is. The track itself is possibly the finest example of the hard rock excess alongside the pnk attack. The chorus is a rousing one, Lanegan's voice climbing high(well for him anyway) with a melody that gained it drive time ubiquity in 1992/1993.
This acoustic driven track is a pre-courser to "Dust" a slow track that sounds like Lanegan is contemplating a lost friend. The chorus is like a pheonix from the ashes. Significantly more upbeat than the melancholy verses.
8.More or Less
This slow, body dragged from the lake track is reminiscent of Neil Young circa Harvest. A very dirge like track possibly the Trees most “grunge” song. Mark Lanegan’s voice works well but it is still one of the worse tracks on the compilation as it is a little slow and not that exciting.
9.For Celebrations Past
This song is significantly more upbeat than the previous track and is a welcome change of pace. Again Lanegan is on fine form but G.Connor is too, his great fills and jangly guitar riff reminiscent of alternative acts such as Husker Du. Definitely as good as Nearly Lost You.
A simple but effective song. Also on “Sweet Oblivion” this track has a simple guitar riff and an even simpler bass lick. By the time the song kicks in you will be banging your head and desperately trying to emulate Lanegan. The very trippy psychedelic solo reminiscent of Cream works well and the song eventually breaks down into a fuzzy distorted conclusion. Great
This song i think was released as a single and was on rotation on MTV in 1993. It is catchy and is more of a psychedelic influenced song. The chorus has a layered vocal effect that works well with the squealing guitars and the whole trippy nature of the song. Top stuff.
The introduction has a very catchy bass riff to lead us into the main part of the song which again makes use of the jangly guitar sounds we all know and love. Another very melodic song that was released in UK and Japan only.A very distorted guitar break at about 2 minutes caps the song nicely. A great rock song.
This song starts of slow in a country slide guitar style. This is until the song breaks out at about 50secs in and we get a another Trees straight up alt-rock song. The great climbing guitar riff in the solo and the bridge at 2 mins 20 secs are just so damn catchy. With the breakdown at about 3 minutes you realise just how great a band the Trees are. This song was a track form the album that Lanegan scrapped in 1994.
I don’t know why but if just never really liked this , it seems a little formulatic and too samey. Just really not that good a song as it sounds like the Trees are second guessing their own art form. I can see why Lanegan dropped this track.
15.Make My Mind
Another great Trees song that could have sat next to Butterfly or Dollar Bill on Sweet Oblivion. This song has a cool solo and has a repetitive sing along chorus. Another trippy hypnotic number that will have your head spinning.
After 1992's "Sweet Oblivion" The Trees were quiet for four years, therefor they failed to capitalize on grunge. By the time "Dust" was released the rock landscape had changed. Cobain was dead and so was grunge. This song deals with the ones who were lost, Lanegan's Seatlle friends (Cobain included) and this song is very emotional but terribly catchy. This acoustic driven track bounces along on a poopy riff in contrast to Lanegan's trademark voice. The chorus is so great, one of my favourites from the Trees. The song really comes alive when we switch to the electric guitars. The crazy solofrom Mike McCready tops it off .
17.Sworn and Broken
The 'Come January' refrain is what makes this song so great. The verses are great too but what tops it off is that unexpected but great solo. I've been told before what that instrument is called but i cant remeber now. Still, a great song.
This track has a quick tempo, more reminiscent of “Sweet Oblivion” and is another one of those songs that should be one of the Trees more well known songs as it is so damn catchy. A very trippy sounding song with another good trippy solo. Up the Trees. You'll be singing the 'I'm gonna die' line as it's so catchy, so make sure you don't do it to loud or your parents will be worried for you.
Defiantly a chill out song, you won’t be putting this on at your crazy parties. Well maybe the morning after? The quiet acoustically strummed guitar makes sure that the vocals stay centre stage, creating a very quiet reflective track. One of those tracks that when you are in the mood for it, will be a favourite. Another weird solo.
I reccommend this album as it is full of underrated classics, the 1992 album "Sweet Oblivion" would also be a good buy as this album cuts a portion of this. Please be nice as this is my first review. Screaming Trees are one of my favourite bands and i hope you look them up after reading my review and they become one of yours?