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Sub Pop reissues Sebadoh's 1994 classic Bakesale

Bakesale
Bakesale
Courtesy Sub Pop Records

1994 was a pivotal year in popular culture as it not only brought the tragic deaths of Kurt Cobain and comedian Bill Hicks, but also ushered in a new era of music that would come to be known as indie-rock, with the help of Bakesale the fifth studio album from a Massachusetts-based band known as Sebadoh.

Comprised of founding member and former Dinosaur Jr. bassist Low Barlow, and multi-instrumentalist Jason Loewenstein, Bakesale marked a change in the bands’ dynamic after founding member Eric Gaffney eventually left the group in the fall of 1993, leaving Barlow and Loewenstein to pursue recording on their own terms without delays or personal hindrances. In Sub Pop Records’ deluxe edition reissue of Bakesale, Barlow recalls in the liner notes that recording sessions for the album began when Gaffney was still in the band, hence his credit on several of the album’s key tracks. The songs which Loewenstein wrote were recorded in Louisville, Kentucky where Loewenstein was living at the time with Bob Nastanovich from Pavement.

Despite the album’s commercial success and subsequent appeal to future indie rockers, Barlow dismisses the album’s legacy in his own personal history writing, “I don’t think it’s the best Sebadoh record (Sebadoh III, Bubble and Scrape and The Sebadoh seem more interesting to me) but it’s the most fondly remembered and the most highly regarded, it seems, so I’ll leave it at that.”

Loewenstein’s contribution to deluxe edition’s liner notes seems to take more of humorous tone than Barlow’s. Lowenstein mainly uses the space to recount the 94’-95’ tour in support of Bakesale, complete with stories of a Lincoln town car and CB radio. The reissue package contains a handful of never-before-seen photos and is a two disc affair with the first CD being the complete remastered album, and the second containing 25 unreleased songs including acoustic demos of “Magnet’s Coil” “Rebound” and “On Fire”; a song that would eventually appear on Sebadoh’s 1996 follow-up, Harmacy. Also available on the extras disc are numerous 4-track noodlings done by Barlow and Lowenstein, that provide the listener a brief glimpse into Sebadoh’s low-fi past.

The significance of Bakesale came at a time when the grunge era was on the decline, a move signaled by the untimely death of Nirvana frontman and former Sub Pop recording artist, Kurt Cobain. With the absence of heavy metal from MTV and Top 40 radio, the time was ripe for another genre to take center stage, and as America’s underground gradually became overcrowded, Bakesale rose to the occasion and encompassed the old adage that, less was more.

One thing the reissue clearly provides is a detailed explanation provided by Barlow on the origin of the album's enigmatic title: "We were stoned, cracking jokes and thinking of album titles," Barlow writes. "Bakesale made us laugh the longest. We were 'baked' making songs to 'sell.'"