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Invisible Lantern

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Album Review

On Screaming Trees' third full-length release, Invisible Lantern, the band further refined their early psychedelic garage sound. The group had become a bona fide cult success by the time of this release, but the indie scene was losing steam and this disc (while superior to earlier efforts) didn't garner enough critical or commercial attention to move the band into mainstream awareness. The music of Invisible Lantern is spirited and raw — a swirling garage pop that, while repetitive, has a character all its own. Looking back, fans will notice that singer Mark Lanegan still hadn't found his unique tonality that listeners most familiar with the group's one and only radio hit (1992's "Nearly Lost You") might recognize. Besides the unrealized potential of Lanegan's performances, this early-career release suffers a little from meandering song structures and other sonic deficiencies that the band eventually overcame. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of fine moments on Invisible Lantern. The hypnotic pop of the record's first six tracks is best represented on "Lines and Circles" and "Ivy" — trippy cuts with interesting lyrics and arrangements. Other straight-ahead tracks like "Walk Through to This Side" and "Night Comes Creeping" provide a nice contrast and energy. Indie fans (resentful of the post-Nirvana Seattle revolution) tend to ignore Screaming Trees' later material in favor of earlier offerings like this one. But to unbiased listeners, it might appear that the group simply had two incarnations, the second of which was perhaps more mature. Ultimately, there are as many perspectives on this issue as there are fans and critics. No matter how one interprets the arc of Screaming Trees' career, however, Invisible Lantern stands as a solid offering to the waning indie rock movement.


Formed: 1985 in Ellensburg, WA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Where many of their Seattle-based contemporaries dealt in reconstructed Black Sabbath and Stooges riffs, Screaming Trees fused '60s psychedelia and garage rock with '70s hard rock and '80s punk. Over the course of their career, their more abrasive punk roots eventually gave way to a hard-edged, rootsy psychedelia that drew from rock and folk equally. After releasing several albums on indie labels like SST and Sub Pop, Screaming Trees moved to Epic Records in 1989. Though they were one of the first...
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Invisible Lantern, Screaming Trees
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