Uncut - p.1123 stars out of 5
-- "[Their] playful primitivism -- which can connect Daniel Johnston's SONGS OF PAIN with Beck's STEREOPATHETIC SOULMANURE -- captivates still."
Sebadoh: Eric Gaffney, Lou Barlow (bass guitar).
Personnel: Lou Barlow (vocals, guitar, ukulele, keyboards, percussion, sequencer); Eric Gaffney (vocals, guitar, piano, xylophone, drums, percussion, bells); Abby Barlow (vocals); Brian Barlow (trumpet); John Dumont , Jason Loewenstein (drums).
Additional personnel: Julie Ann Talon (vocals); John Dumont (drums); Jason Loewenstein, Abby Barlow, Brian Barlow.
Liner Note Authors: Eric Gaffney; Lou Barlow.
Recording information: Northampton, Florence & Westfield, MA.
Unknown Contributor Role: Lou Barlow.
Almost two decades after its initial release, Sebadoh's Homestead debut, THE FREED MAN, stands as the shot barely heard around the world, one that almost in spite of itself crystallized a global musical phenomenon. With its release, Sebadoh combined the combative ethos of punk and hardcore with intimate, primitively played melodies via the grainiest of production values, and the lo-fi revolution was born. By the mid-'90s--when Beck had a Top 10 hit, Guided By Voices was filling theaters, and the Beastie Boys were sampling the sounds of hisses and scratches--Sebadoh could easily take the credit for making sounding bad so cool.
Technically the second Sebadoh album recorded--although it was released first--THE FREED MAN still stands as a many-splendored ode to cheap drugs and cheap tape. Fresh from quitting his gig as the bassist in Dinosaur Jr., Lou Barlow sounds--despite the sometimes emotion-laden material--like the freed man of the title: buoyant, talented, and ready to record all far-flung inspirations, from meditative acoustic musings to gymnastic tape freak-outs; from noise saturations to supermarket field recordings. He found the perfect complement in Eric Gaffney and, years after, THE FREED MAN still crackles with the energy of two musicians seemingly trying to weird each other out. Domino's 50-track reissue treats the record like the seminal one that it is, with bonus tracks and liner notes by Barlow and Gaffney.