Sebadoh Bubble & Scrape

On goes the string of reissues for Sebadoh and label Domino, this year celebrating the 15th anniversary of Bubble & Scrape, the album that marked the departure of original drummer Eric Gaffney and arguably launched the band into the upper echelon of what was a then mushrooming indie rock scene. (Sadly, a reissue of the previous year’s essential compilation, Smash Your Head On the Punk Rock, was ignored by the label.) Unlike the previous sets, B&S comes as a single disc yet still has room for the substantial addition of 15 bonus tracks. The original album hasn’t aged a bit; the trio’s graduation from second-hand four-tracks to the Slaughterhouse studio (which found Bob Weston recording three songs) revealed not so much a shinier lustre but a stronger sense of fulfilment and completion. At the same time, Lou Barlow was finding his mark, with timeless songs still remembered as some of his best, like the proto-emo of "Homemade” and all-time classic ballad "Soul and Fire.” As significant are the emergence of bassist Jason Lowenstein’s songwriting chops on the tear-jerking "Happily Divided,” not to mention Gaffney’s polarising swansongs, which kept the band’s sloppy hardcore roots intact. Overall, this is as divided yet complete as Sebadoh would ever get. The bonus cuts are mostly alternate versions and demos, yet considering the band’s history, they sound almost natural, or superior, like the self-referencing "Reject,” a fine example of what the band would sound like down the road. Add to that an even more despondent acoustic version of "Soul and Fire,” which alone should be enough to sell this to casual fans. Bring on Bakesale! (Domino)