Sebadoh

Bakesale

Sub Pop Records

After spending seven years and six albums laying the foundation for the recent wealth of lo-fi pop that has glutted the indie rock scene for the past few years, it appears Lou Barlow and Sebadoh have decided that the time has come for Sebadoh to evolve.

As such, Bakesale kicks off with the up-tempo rocker, "License to Confuse," Sebadoh's most radio/MTV song to date, and Barlow warns indie rock cynics with the opening lyrics: "I'm not attractive today/I'm not a sight for sore eyes."

Bakesale is the most uniform sounding Sebadoh release. When original member Eric Gaffney left, he took some of the most difficult-to-listen-to songs of the repertoire with him.

The lineup change also enforces the overwhelming feeling that Sebadoh is moving away from its faceless, frontmanless form and is instead becoming Lou Barlow's group Barlow writes nine songs on Bakesale, with only four credited to Jason Lowenstein. This is a step forward for a group who painstakingly made sure that every member had an equal number of contributions, regardless of quality.

As for the songs, longtime Barlow fans need not worry. The classic Barlow songs about rejection or failed love are here in force, beginning with the excellent "Magnet's Coil." And it only takes four songs to arrive at one with the familiar Sebadoh sound "Not a Friend" meshing Barlow's melancholic, pained voice with the quiet-before-the-storm harmonics that have marked past Sebadoh efforts. Other songs, such as "Give-up," are reminiscent of the faster punk-pop jangling of earlier Sebadoh recordings.

While not all songs live up to their potential, notably the almost beautiful "Skull," Bakesale is another fine effort from one of indie rock's greatest groups. Noah Lopez

Juan Garcia Esquivel

Esquivel!: Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music

Bar None Recordings

This compilation of the King of Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music, the pop instrumental/easy listening music of the 1960s, is easily one of the most fun releases of 1994.

Esquivel's music is the music of cocktail-drenched '60s lounges and hipster pads, music-filled with bongos, experiments in stereo sound, trebly brass sections, and spaced-out vocals. His music is beautiful.

Probably the most amazing element of Esquivel's work is his surreal production. Esquivel takes standards such as "Sentimental Journey," "Begin the Beguine" or "Who's Sorry Now?" and manages to filter the sound through a lava lamp. His music sounds bizarre, even by today's standards. Esquivel! has these classics along with music that sounds eerily sampled from the kooky background music found in '70s comedies such as "The Brady Bunch." "Lazy Bones" is a fantastic example of this. But perhaps the crowning glory of Esquivel! comes in his original compositions, "Mucha Muchacha" and "Whatchamacallit!" replete with fantastically surreal dialogue and Esquivel's bizarre instrumentation. Esquivel! is also a mesmerizing audio primer for such lost '60s instruments as the Ondioline and the Buzzimba.

Esquivel! is the last word in '90s party albums. Noah Lopez

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