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At Sixes and Sevens

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Album Review

Wisecrackin' Jason Loewenstein may be considered the lesser of the two Sebadoh singer/songwriters (his stuff is less-directly melodic and catchy than the more celebrated/prolific Lou Barlow), but he's certainly penned his share of primo stuff ("Careful," "Prince-S," "It's All You"). His band's been laying low since the oddly disregarded The Sebadoh three years ago, and while Barlow has kept busy with Folk Implosion, he's been stockpiling songs. Loewenstein competently plays all the instruments, yet it sounds like a sharp band playing together (it sounds like Sebadoh!). His self-production is excellent as well. And though one misses the interplay of his intensity/crunch with Barlow's heightened pop sense, At Sixes and Sevens is a strong LP that should open eyes. It opens with a few tracks that are reminiscent of Iggy Pop and James Williamson's Kill City, which sounded like Iggy showing the newly tiring Stones how they used to do it. "Codes" and "Casserole" are peppery, classic riff-rock songs filtered through punk's manic verve. And when that starts getting samey, Loewenstein switches gears, veering to his more complex side for the album's most distinctive tracks. The wailing, swooping guitar lead breaks of "Circles" set up the inherent worry that drives this fantastic song. Likewise, the searing, simple, raining lead that appears through "I'm a S**t" makes for magnificent, broody rock & roll. These two are as good as anything he's given Sebadoh, as is the LP's finest moment, buried at the end: the thundering, punky basher "Transform," which runs on a hot tune and Loewenstein's nastiest bass playing. OK, someone should have made him delete the two dumb metal cuts, the tellingly titled instrumental "H/M" and "NYC III." But these are blips. The taut, hushed "Funerals" immediately puts the train back on track.

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At Sixes and Sevens, Jason Lowenstein
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