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Jason Lowenstein | At Sixes and Sevens (Subpop)
Sebadoh have been an integral and influential part of the indie rock scene for over ten years now. In the beginning Jason Lowenstein preferred a background role, choosing to stand behind his more prolific band mates; Lou Barlow and Eric Gaffney. However, as time progressed and Sebadoh evolved (swapping Gaffney for Bob Fay along the way), his song writing began to see the light of day; and by the last few albums he was writing several tracks. More important than the life and times of Sebadoh is the fact the Lowenstein has now embarked on a solo career (although apparently Sebadoh are still alive). His first release, through SubPop, was recorded over a year and captured in numerous studios. The one underlying factor was that Lowenstein had control of the reigns throughout. As the accompanying press release explains, "...Jason wrote, recorded, performed, and produced everything on the record.... DIY indeed.." The first track Codes bursts into focus, and the carving, chugging guitars set the tone for the entire album. The pounding basslines, another characteristic, drive the song and the whole album for that matter. Angle, a disjointed little number, processes the same jagged guitars and scratchy vocals. I was fond of the buzzed out, distortion drenched baseline that throbs through Circles. It was about this time that I began losing interest in the record. I gave it numerous listens, but could never seem to get over the plainness of it all. Granted, I was never a huge Sebadoh fan, so that may have something to do with it. The rest of the tracks seemed to blur together, all carving the same predestined ruts. You could say there was a continuity in style and sounds.... but you'd be pushing it. Lowenstein appears to be a talented songwriter but these talents are cloaked in a rather plain, unimaginative exterior. I liked a couple of the slower songs; More Drugs and Mistakes.... but the weariness had well and truly set in. It is admirable that he took charge of the majority of this record, but unfortunately that is not enough. The songs didn't speak to me and the arrangements and sounds were bland. Maybe in the future his music will blossom, but it could take a lot of watering... oh and, by the way, don't call him J-Loe.