COMING UP: Sebadoh’s Act Surprised


On May 24 Sebadoh have a new album coming out called Act Surprised.

If this news doesn’t inspire excitement equal to opening your front door to a smiling man holding one of those massive lottery cheques, I’m not sure what more I can say to you.

Still, I give it a try.

In the grim times of my teenage years, Sebadoh rode into my life like the emotional cavalry. I recall lending my heavily worn cassette copy of 1989’s “The Freed Weed” to Slick [not his real name, obviously]. Slick was the coolest kid at my school, and I had hopes that he would be so affected by the introduction that he’d realise we should be fast friends, and lift me from social obscurity into his light.

When he brought it back, he practically threw it at me. Emphatically:

“It’s not even music. IT’S A TOTAL MESS.”

That was a shock, certainly. The shock was the feeling of absolute joy he gave me in that moment, because then I saw that Sebadoh could be my band. A total mess, very much like like me. Loud and fucked up, but without any sense of the machismo that hung around so many grunge bands of the era. Now I was the coolest kid at school, though no one else got the memo.

Over the many years since then, Sebadoh have moved towards clearer post-punk, indie rock sounds. There have been a number of line-up changes, the most significant of which is the departure of one of their founders, Eric Gaffney. They have not always been consistent, and how could a mess be so? They have even tried the major label thing, without much limelight, and thank god for that (there’s still no room for Slick with the in crowd).

In the decades following The Freed Man, I’ve moved off into other musical territory as well, and there has been a lot of great newer musical genres that I guess the core duo of Lou Barlow and Jason Loewenstein would probably not care for. From my point of view, we have been estranged.

All the same, I owe enough to Sebadoh’s music that just before I press play on a new album by the band for the first time, my chest tightens a little, and I hold my breathe.

So if you don’t care about Sebadoh’s upcoming release, I thank you – you’re just giving me a corner of the playground all my own. I’ll be back there on release day, my face pressed up against the railings between fan and musical hero, hoping to be wowed again.

Words by Nick Parker.

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