Lou Barlow - Emoh

MERGE RECORDS

  • £27.99


 

Emoh, originally released in 2004, was Lou Barlow's first solo album.

Except that is not really accurate; Barlow, who had been writing genius lo-fi songs and experimenting with reel-to-reel tape recorders at home since a teen, released his first 'solo' cassette, Weed Forestin', under the name Sentridoh in 1987. The then Dinosaur Jr bassist was joined by friend Eric Gaffney on percussion, and the duo soon became the prolific and ever-evolving band Sebadoh (later reissuing Weed Forestin' under that name) following the unceremonious ousting of Barlow from Dinosaur Jr.

Sebadoh became known for Lou's disarmingly honest and intimate lyrics and tender delivery. Combined with Eric's wilder rock sensibilities, and later, bassist Jason Lowenstein's wry songwriting, the band became the template for 'nineties inventive lo-fi-derived indie rock, perhaps second only to the slightly more successful Pavement.

Barlow reached critical and commercial success with the short-lived Folk Implosion with John Davis, another lo-fi project that became a more professional concern after Harmony Korine invited Barlow to pen songs for the film 1995 film Kids, resulting in the hit single 'Natural One.'

By the turn of the century, Sebadoh was on hiatus following the perceived failure of their seventh studio album, The Sebadoh, and The Folk Implosion had broken up. It was a low point for Barlow, both professionally and personally, and the recording of Emoh in 2003 was viewed as a fresh start; a 'proper' solo album recorded both at home and at various studios, most notably Mark Never's (Lambchop) Beech House studio in Nashville. Nevers had just recorded the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy album Master And Everyone, furthering Will Oldham's then-recent transformation of himself from fellow lo-fi underdog into respected full-fidelity recording artist.

The resulting album is unmistakably the same 'losercore' Lou Barlow, who retains the seemingly effortless knack of flooring listeners with a single unguarded lyric, but musically refined, confident and mature. Along with Oldham's transformation, another musical and cultural touchstone (that Barlow may or may not have been aware of) is Evan Dando's first solo album, 2002's Baby I'm Bored, a similar country-tinged reevaluation and existential reckoning following the demise of The Lemonheads. In hindsight, neither album is really 'mature,' nor did either launch successful new mainstream careers, but were forerunners in what is now the polished sound of established-indie music (piles of which are stacked up in Rough Trade shops around the country), and are packed with great songs that, under different circumstances, may have been bashed out over a tape recorder. As such, Emoh more than stands the test of time, and a bittersweet ring now sounds from each perfectly-crafted song.

"Though Emoh was an overwhelmingly positive step forward for me, listening now, I realize the songs have a lot of pain in them. They clearly track the slow dissolution of my first marriage, the fatal break of several partnerships, and my struggle to acclimate to living in LA. Emoh is primarily an acoustic LP with live performances at its core, and that was a personal achievement for me. I’m still very pleased with it" - Lou Barlow, March 2020

 

TRACKLIST:
  1. Holding Back the Year
  2. Home
  3. Caterpillar Girl
  4. Legendary
  5. Royalty
  6. Puzzle
  7. If I Could
  8. Monkey Begun
  9. Morning’s After Me
  10. Round-N-Round
  11. Mary
  12. Confused
  13. Imagined Life
  14. The Ballad of Daykitty

 

Very limited double-LP is pressed on black vinyl; comes in matte gatefold jacket + printed dust sleeves; includes download coupon


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