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Uncle Anesthesia

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Album Review

After a long career with independent label SST, the Screaming Trees arrived at Epic Records with little fanfare (and would leave in much the same way) with 1991's Uncle Anesthesia. Produced by Soundgarden's Chris Cornell and metal specialist Terry Date, the album lurches to its feet on the military shuffle of "Beyond This Horizon." Despite offering a few glimpses of the group's punkier side — "Story of Her Fate," "Alice Said," "Time for Light" — most of the material emphasizes the Trees' mellower inclinations. As its title and disturbing, Alice in Wonderland-inspired cover artwork would suggest, the album also finds the band delving deeper and deeper into their psychedelic tendencies. Gary Lee Conner's lysergic guitar textures gently frame Mark Lanegan's rough, whiskey-drenched vocals on such highlights as the title track, "Caught Between," and "Something About Today." And while "Bed of Roses" and "Lay Your Head Down" betray a strong R.E.M. influence, songs like "Before We Arise," "Closer," and "Disappearing" (with its Mexican funeral horn section) possess a sense of despair and hopelessness that only Lanegan's voice can convey. The last album to feature original drummer Mark Pickerel, Uncle Anesthesia also set the stage for the band's breakthrough, Sweet Oblivion.

Biography

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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Uncle Anesthesia, Screaming Trees
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