Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Raw but somehow polished Indie Rock from Sebadoh

I wonder why it is that so many bands do their best work right before they break up. I’ll throw out a few examples and I’m sure some folks won’t agree with what I’m calling their best work, but feel free to comment if you feel strongly.

  • The Police – Synchronicity
  • The Beatles – Abbey Road: I know, Let It Be came after, but they were already splintering when this album was recorded. Some songs were recorded without John in the studio and it was finished without them (which is how Spector was able to butcher The Long and Winding Road).
  • Soul Coughing – El Oso: What can I say? I like the album as a whole better than Irresistible Bliss
  • The Fugees – The Score: They only released two albums, basically, but great album and then bang — they split.
  • Jellyfish – Spilt Milk (See The Fugees)
  • Van Halen – 1984: Every bit as good as the one before, Diver Down.
  • Soundgarden – Superunknown wasn’t their last album, but that was when the band began to fracture. Recording Down on the Upside finished killing them.
  • Pavement – Terror Twilight
  • The Verve – Urban Hymns: This led to their second breakup that lasted 10 years.
  • Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway: Their best album with Peter Gabriel was their last.

Of course, I’m not counting bands like Sublime, Blind Melon, and Morphine who were improving until one of the band members died.

Maybe it’s because a lot of bands just continue to improve so when they break up, they’re doing their best work. Or they are moving toward their perfect sound throughout their career and when they achieve it, well, the challenge and spark are gone and the members move on.

For some, I think the success of a truly great album creates new pressures that the members can’t handle. In other cases, like The Police and Genesis, it’s because one artists is imposing more and more of his or her own vision on the band, making the last album the most cohesive, but also frustrating for other band members.

Perhaps for some the creative tensions that are already cracking the band up lead to an intense record. I’m sure there isn’t any one reason, but so often a band’s last effort leaves you wishing they could just hold it together for one more album.

Can't we all just get along?

Can't we all just get along?

Sebadoh is a Lo-Fi Indie band from Westfield, MA that lasted for 10 years – from 1989 to 1999 and their last album, The Sebadoh,  is such an effort. They have been likened to Pavement and Guided By Voices and I can hear the similarities, particularly in their older stuff. It was their 1999 release, though, that is my favorite. By this stage, they were less enamored with the raw sound that made them famous. The songwriting was still rough and edgy, but the sound was polished. The band members had each others’ measure and they worked better together on this album than they had on any of their other releases.

Check out these 4 tracks from this release. Sadly, not one of these is on YouTube. Clips it is.

  • Weird – A ripping guitar riff leads the vocals through emotional lyrics and a pleasing chord progression. I love the percussion work too. He alternately drops delicate beats right where they belong and then makes you want to clap along with the tambourine.
  • Break Free – A lot of songs with the slow energy of the vocals end up dragging. Not this one. The vocal melody is a patient counterpoint to the driving instrumentation and it’s a rocker, not a plodding snoozer.
  • Tree – This is a departure from a lot of their songs. Sprightly acoustic guitar and sweet harmony vocals make up the heart of this song. The harmonic electric guitar and keyboards make this my favorite track on the album.
  • Flame – The fat guitar hook is worthy of the Monkees, but the lyrics are deep. The post-production effects keep the riff from growing monotonous as the song builds to a powerful climax and a fake ending. Great stuff.

The band actually reunited to tour in 2007 and 2008 but no new music seems forthcoming.



July 6, 2009 - Posted by | Indie, Popular, Rock


  1. Did you like the “Kids” soundtrack that Lou Barlow did? It has some strange stuff on it.
    P.S. I hope that your S.O. is feeling better.

    Comment by susie | July 14, 2009 | Reply

    • I haven’t heard it, but I’ll put it on the list. And thanks for the kind words.

      Comment by missedmusic | July 15, 2009 | Reply

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