Founding Sebadoh member delivers a blistering, deeply introspective new solo album
Indie rock pioneer Jason Loewenstein of the legendary and highly influential band Sebadoh, which he founded with Dinosaur Jr. bassist Lou Barlow and Eric Gaffney, returns with Spooky Action, the title of which could just as easily point to the current political madness as it could to the thrill and anxiety of self-discovery.
After a six-year stint as a member of the Fiery Furnaces and having spent the last several years playing with, recording and/or touring with everyone from Richard Buckner and David Kilgour to his own, still-active band Sebadoh, it’s obvious that Loewenstein is eager to unleash the songs he’s been stockpiling for this new release, his first solo album since the critically acclaimed At Sixes and Sevens (Sub Pop).
Spooky Action starts with a hilariously unexpected short clip (you’ll just have to hear it) before Loewenstein charges out of the gate with the frenetic and upbeat “The One.” A piercing, furious guitar line cuts through heavily distorted bass and galloping drums while Loewenstein screams, “Step out on the wing, give up everything,” which is exactly what he does throughout the entirety of this fearless album.
“Navigate” could be a faster, crisper follow-up to “Not Too Amused” from Sebadoh’s classic Bakesale, with biting lyrics like, “Not gonna hang with vampires” and “Excuse me, do I know you?” The heavy riffage and unbridled vocals on “Dead” bring to mind Queens of the Stone Age, while the deeply melodic and infectious “Superstitious” is a gripping heart-wrencher: “You’re going away and I don’t know why,” Loewenstein sings from the deepest, saddest part of himself. And the album’s final track, “Light the Room,” is a dirgy love song that’s simultaneously filled with optimism and dread, and somehow sounds like a Neil Young take on the Melvins.
The 12 songs on Spooky Action explore everything from manic hopefulness and the pain of loss, to the fear and adventure of the great unknown. Loewenstein navigates these complex territories with impressive skill and even, at times, courageous wit.
With the release of this highly anticipated new solo record, Loewenstein will return to the road with his legendary live band, which features Bob D’Amico (Sebadoh) and Matt Friedberger (Fiery Furnaces).