Posts Tagged ‘Lou Barlow’

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Dinosaur Jr. have shared a new single and music video, “Garden.” The track was written by co-founder and bassist Lou Barlow, and it marks the second single off their forthcoming record “Sweep It Into Space”. The new video was shot in Western Massachusetts. It was directed by Lou and Adelle Barlow, with John Maloney contributing illustrations and Chloe Hemingway providing animation.

“Everyone seemed to want a disruption in the order of American life, it seemed necessary. Then it happened,” Lou Barlow says of the track. “It began as a bitter lamentation but as I was finishing the lyrics, singing over the instrumental version of the song while driving to J’s through the miles of farmland that separate his studio in Amherst and my home in Greenfield (Massachusetts), I saw a sign on a shed: Back to the Garden. I was looking for a resolution, where do we go when faced with such dramatic confusion? Back to basics, back home, back to the garden.”

The single is a wash of colliding influences as ’60s Brit-pop tones give way to Barlow’s ’00s alt-rock delivery. Aesthetically, a certain attitude of apathy coalesces with the paradoxical image of the band exploring a snow-capped garden in Western Massachusetts. The video also features shots of a scenic bend in the Connecticut River, which Barlow noted isn’t far from the site of the first-ever Dinosaur Jr. music video, “Little Furry Things”. In addition to the live-action shots of the band, the “Garden” video also hosts artwork by the band’s tour manager John Moloney, who routinely sketches caricatures of the band.

Dinosaur Jr.’s new record is due out April. 23rd.

A rich modern acoustic album from the main driver behind alternative rock legends SebadohLou Barlow is a terrific singer-songwriter who has been crafting innovative tunes under various guises since the mid-1980s. He has released music with Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Sentridoh, The Folk Implosion as well as under his own name. He is in many ways the poster child for all things “Indie Rock,” even before Guided By Voices became a thing. 

Before I discuss the first time domestic vinyl reissue of Lou’s 2005 album called “EMOH”, lets talk about the notion of the independently made record and whether it could possibly sound genuinely really good, possibly even “demo-worthy.”

One of the hallmarks of modern home digital recording is that it breaks down the economic barriers of the recording studio so most anyone can make music on the go where they live and play. Before the digital revolution, the Tascam Portastudio cassette multi-track recorders in particular opened the flood gates in the early 1980s for affordable independent music making. Remember, Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska was recorded on one of those things! But that was something of an anomaly. Fast forward, last year newcomer Billie Eilish swept the Grammy Awards with her debut album that was essentially recorded in her bedroom! Home recording has clearly come a long way…

For many years, however, there were loads of great but pretty rough sounding “indie” and “LoFi” (aka intentionally low fidelity) albums being released, as young artists learned how to become recording engineers as well as performers. Much good came of this period as artists made albums in unusual environments where natural acoustic reverb laden environments might exists such as kitchens and living rooms and bathrooms. Heck, one of my favourite Guided By Voices tracks (“I’ll Replace You With Machines“) sounds like it was recorded to match the rhythms of a washing machine. 

In a way, this is getting back to the roots of studio recording as pioneered by no less than a Les Paul who made his own home studios in the 1940s and ’50s. Having a studio at home allowed him to innovate new sounds simply by running microphone cables around the house where he needed them. For example on the 1953 song “Walking and Whistling Blues” you can hear the sound of someone walking around the kitchen in rhythm in time for the music (I think it was his wife and performing partner Mary Ford). 

So, back to EMOH, this album is technically Lou Barlow’s first full solo album, released under his own name just before he re-joined Dinosaur Jr.  (so he never really got to promote this album properly). It was recorded across a bunch of different scenarios, from a 16-track recording studio in Nashville to four-track Mini-Disc (!) and elements recorded in his home. In some instances the recordings were started in one location and added to in another so all that contributes to the distinct sound on this record. 

When EMOH  was released in 2005 it was a CD-only release here in the United States. There was a small run of vinyl in the European market but those were next to impossible to find here.

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In celebration of the 15th anniversary of EMOH — which coincided with the birth of his first child Merge Records has put out a lovely two LP gatefold version of the album for the first time here in the US. It spreads the full album across four sides so there’s plenty of room for the tracks to breathe and it sounds quite wonderful on thick, well pressed, quiet vinyl. 

Largely revolving around Lou’s acoustic guitar sometimes it sounds like a nylon string guitar or even a Ukulele at times  this record has a hushed beauty to it even when it has moments of rocking out. Some of the guitars sound like they are recorded very closely so there is at times a wonderful sense and feel of the wood of the instrument and the strings coming through the speakers. One of the first things you’ll hear on EMOH‘s opening track, “Hold Back The Years” is the sound of the room in which Lou is recording. As you can see from pictures included in the album I suspect that we are hearing the natural sound of the room he was in – a bathroom — a great place for natural reverb which makes for a very interesting production texture. 

 

Lou Barlow’s voice and song writing grabbed me from the get-go when I first saw him on a late night program on MTV — an acoustic set with Husker Du’s Bob Mould. His music won me over that night. I soon thereafter picked up an early album by his group Sebadoh and was absolutely blown away by the song “Soul and Fire” a production which in some ways is a loose template for this album – a raw, emotional tale of a failing love. 

Lou has explained in materials promoting EMOH that it is basically documenting the break up of his first marriage. Accordingly, there is a lot of baring of the soul going on — love and heartbreak, soul and fire. Some of my favourite songs here include the stunning “Mary” which tells the story of Jesus from the perspective of an imagined secret lover.  “Confused” is another great tune which (to my ear) channels at points no less than classic 1972-73 Grateful Dead sounds, mining similar spaces to their classics “Wharf Rat” and “Dark Star”

 

“Round & Round” has such a strong chorus hook, in a different production it might have been a pop hit but here its a sparse, airy acoustic guitar and piano arrangement that is powerful.

EMOH  is a wonderful record and you should check it out.  It’s a rich, round and rewarding as the new vinyl edition. 

Now I hope that Lou can get his fantastic Folk Implosion album “One Part Lullaby” issued on vinyl., 

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The first album Lou Barlow released under his own name celebrates its 15th anniversary with a 2-LP reissue, marking its domestic debut on vinyl. Housed in printed paper sleeves inside a gatefold jacket with lyrics. Includes full album download plus 8 digital bonus tracks of demos from the era. If you don’t know who Lou Barlow is, But you should, to celebrate one of indie rock’s key figures.

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All Songs by Lou Barlow except “Round-N-Round” by DeMartini/Pearcy/Crosby

EMOH, the title, was conceived by Adam Harding

released July 31st, 2020

Formed in 1984, Dinosaur Jr carved a singular path through the latter half of the 1980s and early 1990s, issuing a number of highly influential albums in the process before finding a home with Sire Records. Cherry Red Records has announced details of an epic Dinosaur Jr. album reissue campaign coming this September: The four Warner period ’90s albums ‘Green Mind’, ‘Where You Been’, ‘Without A Sound’ and ‘Hand It Over’ have been lovingly remastered, expanded and reissued on coloured double vinyl and double CD editions, with related singles, b-sides and previously unreleased material. The entire collection is available now

Dinosaur Jr. consisted of J Mascis on guitar and vocals, Lou Barlow on bass and Murph banging the drums. Their first album came out in 1985 and they had a huge underground hit with the 1988 single Freak Scene. Lou Barlow left shortly afterwards to form the highly regarded Sebadoh,

“Without A Sound”, was their sixth record, emerged in the summer of 1994, in the wake of personal bereavement and the departure of longtime drummer and founder member Murph.

Performed primarily by J Mascis, “Without A Sound” continued the band’s growth in popularity and commercial achievement, reaching #44 in the US (their highest ever album placing there) and featuring the hit singles ‘Feel The Pain’ and ‘I Don’t Think So’. Released to positive reviews, “Without A Sound” also took Dinosaur Jr around the world, including dates in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and into the mainstream as the group contributed ‘Blah’ to the hit US TV show Melrose Place.

Collected together with related B-sides, unreleased mixes and a complete live recording made in London in 1994, and accompanied by in-depth sleevenotes from Mojo’s Keith Cameron (based on recent and exclusive interviews with J Mascis), this edition provides a glimpse of a band at the height of their international appeal and accessibility.

“Hand It Over”, their seventh record, appeared in the spring of 1997 following a lengthy absence, and would prove to be the band’s final album-length offering for a decade.

Performed primarily by J Mascis, “Hand It Over” appeared at a time of declining international interest in American alternative rock, but nevertheless received widespread approval and appreciation amongst critics and reviewers. The album was accompanied, unusually, by an EP of non-album songs recorded for the Matt Dillon movie Grace Of My Heart and, later, a vinyl only ‘I’m Insane’ 7” single, all of which are collected here alongside a previously unreleased concert recording made in Stockholm and two tracks performed for ABC TV in Australia.

Dinosaur Jr carved a singular path through the latter half of the 1980s, issuing three highly influential albums in the process before finding a home with Sire Records, who issued “Green Mind” in 1991 as the alternative American rock scene the band had long been part of exploded globally.

Produced by a stripped down line-up of the group (in fact, J Mascis himself plays almost everything), the album and Sire’s international reach took Dinosaur Jr’s reputation to a new level, aided by the singles ‘The Wagon’ and ‘Whatever’s Cool With Me’, a non-album EP of new material and live recordings, all of which are included here alongside a previously unreleased live recording capturing the group at the Hollywood Palladium in June 1991.

Critically lauded on release, “Green Mind” remains one of the band’s strongest collections, and a firm fan favourite.

‘Where You Been’, their fifth record, emerged in 1993, at the height of enthusiasm for grunge and the alternative American rock scene the band had long been part of.

Produced by a new line-up of the group (longtime drummer Murph and new bassist Mike Johnson completing the three-piece), the album became the band’s most successful up to that point, reaching #50 in the US (where it sold over a quarter of a million copies) and #10 in the UK album charts, and spawning the hit single ‘Start Choppin’.

Released to unanimously positive reviews, and containing many tracks that would become staples and fan favourites, ‘Where You Been’ continued Dinosaur Jr’s global ascent, being issued simultaneously across the US, Europe, Australasia, Asia and South America.

Collected together here on vinyl for the first time with related singles, B-sides and John Peel session recordings,

To celebrate the deluxe reissue campaign of Dinosaur Jr.’s classic Warner Years albums ‘Green Mind’, ‘Where You Been’, ‘Without A Sound’ & ‘Hand It Over’ via Cherry Red Records, singer & guitarist J Mascis spoke to Keith Cameron from MOJO Magazine about recording these much loved albums.

Order the Warner Years albums reissued on deluxe gatefold 2LP & deluxe expanded 2CD editions

Indie-rock pioneers Sebadoh return with their first new studio album in more than six years “Act Surprised”. The inventors of lo-fi indie rock return with a 15-track blast of melodic melancholy, all delivered by the smudged middle finger of Dinosaur Jr original Lou Barlow

“The first line of this song: ‘I get the feeling you don’t feel me’ is pretty good. It could be a line in an Ariana Grande song, I like it,” said Lou Barlow. “I followed it from there through some general complaints about a composite character in my life, someone I could never crack. Sometimes the walls are too high. If you think about it, the resistance was always there, even in the very beginning. What to do? Pick endlessly at the seams? Replay moments in my head looking for a way to explain it all? No, stop, there is no one answer and that’s OK…Celebrate the void.”

Act Surprised continues the soulful collaboration that’s defined the band since 1991’s Sebadoh III and 1994’s Bakesale. The new batch of songs reaffirms how vital the creative partnership is between members Barlow, Jason Loewenstein, and Bob D’Amico.

When Barlow recently moved back to his home state of Massachusetts following a series of personal changes, he pressed the restart button and, in time, felt the incentive to reach out to Jason and Bob again to reunite and start work on a new album. The trio convened and began recording in their original stomping grounds in Northampton, MA where they first formed back in 1988. Along with producer/sound engineer Justin Pizzoferatto, Sebadoh have delivered one of the best records of their career. Act Surprised is a 15-song collection that’s as dynamic and visceral as anything the band has ever committed to tape.

Their first studio album since 2013’s ‘Defend Yourself’ and their first release with Fire Records, Lou Barlow and team return with a smorgasbord of beautifully dysfunctional tunes harking back to their finest college rock anthems.
It’s Barlow at his introverted songwriting best; matter-of-factly delivering a stream of self-questioning stories, punctuated by detuned guitars, spine-tingling time changes and throwaway one liners.
A grainy post grunge postcard wrapped in bittersweet melodies with an aftertaste that’s pure heartbreak.
More songs about growing up wrong for those who continue to act surprised at life itself – all illegibly handwritten and lovingly submitted to vinyl.

Lowenstein stated, “Of all the records we have made in our long career, this is definitely the most recent.” Releases May 24th, 2019

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