Sunday, 17 July 2011

Screaming Trees – Sweet Oblivion

Poor Mark Lanegan. Did you know he originally covered Lead Belly before Cobain made it his own? Did you know he was part of the supergroup QOTSA line-up on Songs for the Deaf, but was overshadowed by the giants Josh Homme, Nick Oliveri and Dave Grohl? Did you know he was making grunge before Eddie Vedder even moved to the Seattle? He is an artist of immense talent who never managed to properly break it. Screaming Trees was the band he fronted, and in another poor shot of fate the only single that anyone seems to know; “Nearly Lost You”, was a fast paced, catchy pop-grunge song that is completely unrepresentative of the work that band made.
Sweet Oblivion, the album “Nearly Lost You” came from, is a slow, hypnotic, rhythmic example of how to make a great grunge record. Lanegan has one of the all time great croons, in another age he would be much sought after in blues clubs. Just check out “This Lullaby” by QOTSA, which to my knowledge is the best crooning on record anywhere. Sweet Oblivion ticks all the grunge boxes, but perhaps with a bit more maturity than his more famous peers. Comparable to only the later Alice in Chains stuff the album occupies a blue, downtrodden soundscape. “Julie Paradise” bitterly rips into a spoilt young rat, akin to “Like A Rolling Stone”, elsewhere Lanegan moans “torn like an old dollar bill”, worthless but still in the music industries wallet.
Sweet Oblivion is Seattle plaid blues at it’s best and is well worth checking out. “Dust” is arguably a better more blue album if you want to get deeper, but for my money there are less songs to properly sink into on that record and it’s a little bit of a tough listen.

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