Friday, November 06, 2009

Goodnight Unknown

For those few who know me personally but were unaware of this, Lou Barlow is one of my favorite musicians. He is ranked in my top 5 somewhere between Tom Waits and Eddie Vedder. So imagine how happy I was when I heard that Lou Barlow has a new solo record out titled Goodnight Unknown. Before I give my personal take on the record, allow me to acclimate you with his previous work; he was the original bass player for Dinosaur Jr., still one of the greatest alternative bands around that manages to continually get better. He was also the man behind the very underappreciated Folk Implosion and my favorite of all his work, Sebadoh, who I was lucky to see live at Old Ironsides in downtown Sacramento in 2004. He has also released two solo albums, along with a handful on EP's under the moniker Sentridoh. He has played a very large role in the late 80's to early 90's music scene, and continues to be the Paul Westerberg of my generation (in my own humble opinion.). The song "On Fire" off of Sebadoh's 1996 release Harmacy is still listed in my top 10 favorite tracks of all time.

As for his new record Goodnight Unknown, I would rank this as some of his best solo work. Where his first solo album Emoh was a mostly acoustic, soft haze of melodic tunes, Goodnight Unknown hit's just a smidge harder. It is a little cleaner sounding than Emoh, but still carries his lo-fi fashion. "Don't Apologize" may sound a little like it was ripped from Sebadoh's later releases, which is not a bad thing at all, but most of the record is standard Barlow acoustic style with occasional electric fuzz. The opening track "Sharing" starts the record off with a mid-tempo garage rock feel, but it smoothes itself out by the last track, "One Note Tone". For those who just could not get into Sebadoh and thought Dinosaur Jr. was a little too indy-grunge for them, Goodnight Unknown is a perfect starting point to jump into his catalog, and then just work your way back. Trust me, you can't go wrong with a single release that carries his name (which happens to be a lot), but this is a great introduction into his lo-fi world.

My mind is open, not my arms. Half the world ago is locked out; I led you on, you did no harm; this story ended when you walked out.

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