Over 15 years ago, lo-fi pioneers Sebadoh released Bakesale to a surprising amount of media fanfare. Lou Barlow and Jason Loewenstein, the two steady members of the band, managed to balance their unsophisticated style with the perfect pop punch. The songs on this record are brief, often jarring, and fortunately all sound different. In our times of heavy autotuning and distortion, thank God for Sub Pop continuing to reissue these brilliant classics with bonus material.
On the original record, the songs are so raw that they stand up to the test of time. “License to Confuse” is an anthem for the indecisive youth. “Careful” carries a line that has always stood out to me as an ironic turn of songwriting honesty: “Watch out for my bullshit.” Barlow’s voice is often understated, as he lets the words and music do the heavy lifting, but it’s when he really unleashes that Sebadoh are their head-thrashing best, such as on the latter half of “Drama Mine.”
The bonus disc of Bakesale is remarkable in its weirdness when compared to the original material. There are a few 4-track demos and acoustic versions of songs that are strikingly beautiful, such as “Not a Friend” and “Magnet’s Coil,” and any fan can be captivated by how these tracks have been reworked. Other rarities offer no hints until you listen to them: “40203” is a sprawling, mellow instrumental, while “Cementville” is a squealing jumble of distortion. You won’t find monster riffs or vocal runs on the reissued Bakesale, but the record’s all the better for it. Sebadoh keeps it simple and thus they ensure that every song is worth the attention.