Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Sebadoh: Bakesale [Sub Pop, 1994]
Two decades ago, Lou Barlow might have been Eric Justin Kaz, which I hope cheers anyone who thinks progress has gone out of style. And who recognizes Kaz's name, of course--confessional songpoet, acoustic guitar buried in El Lay cliches when he tried to get his songs out there himself. Believe me, indie-rock irony improves the type. Whether or not this sensitive young man Can Love, at least now the mooniness is under control, and access to technology enables him to make his own noise. Barlow's labyrinthine welter of demos-for-sale includes five previous so-called albums. In 1990, with Eric Gaffney sowing chaos every track he got and Jason Loewenstein's civilizing influence an alternative eon away, he was heard to derogate "the 'repeat the chorus three times' deal." Yet here, four years later, there are refrains, reiterations, hook riffs galore. I doubt I'll hear a catchier indie album all year--or a more visionary Unable To Love song than "Together or Alone." A