What use is Sebadoh now that Lou Barlow and J. Mascis [Sebadoh front man and founder, Guitarist/band mate of Barlow in Dinosaur Jr., respectively] have reconciled? Sebadoh was Barlow’s creative outlet while he was in Dino J. and Mascis was controlling the creative output until tensions within the band caused Lou to be kicked out, when he devoted himself to Sebadoh. In addition to the omnipresent muses of love and getting stoned, the most interesting aspect of Sebadoh was how Lou used it to passive aggressively vent against J. in tunes like “The Freed Pig” off of 1991’s III and the “experiments” in lo-fi and tape collage. Now that the band is older with seemingly stable relationships and the bong has seemed to have lost its affect as a muse and now that Sebadoh is firmly entrenched in the canon of independent/college rock as Dino J and Sonic Youth, what is the use of Sebadoh?
Defend Yourself is more focused than the other Sebadoh records, whose charm came from the juxtaposition of noise, post-
hardcore tinged with sarcasm, and emotional self-reflection, Defend Yourself takes on a more standard and predictable course. “Beat” and “Defend Yr Self” (tracks 3 and 4) are hard, bass-heavy tunes (I’ve recently been amazed at how hard Lou Barlow can play his bass). “Once” (track 6) is an impressive instrumental track “Listen” (track 12) is a laid back with just a little bit of digital fuzz in the background, but no track on this album really hits me like “Spoiled” (from III) or “Sacred Attention” (from Bubble and Scrape) does. So what’s the point of Sebadoh? The same as it’s always been an outlet for a couple musicians to express themselves and practice songwriting. Just because I can’t relate to it now doesn’t mean I never will.