It is amazing to think that Weed Forestin’ was originally released in 1987 as it easily finds a home in the airwaves of 2012. Louis Barlow was best known as one of the founding members and bass player of Dinosaur Jr. However, his frequent clashes with guitarist J Mascis led Barlow to seek an alternative source for his creativity.
The debut album of his side project Sentridoh was recorded in a time when big riffs were king of the mountain. How appropriate it is that now its reissue arrives at a time when big beats reign supreme. The honesty of these songs aches within you. Their simple melodies inspire the need to pick up an instrument, whether it is a guitar or a pair of spoons, and create something just as endearing.
Barlow recorded this 23-track album on a 4-track with only an acoustic guitar and ukulele, helped with some percussion occasionally provided by friend Eric Gaffney. The less-is-more approach to making the album creates a very intimate audio space. You feel as if you have stumbled into the room while Barlow was recording each song.
The homemade feel is warmly genuine as Barlow’s music evokes the image of the quiet kid from next door. The music is simple and sparse, allowing you to see through the flesh and bones to see straight into Barlow’s heart. Likewise his voice is perfectly matched with his self-reflective tone. There are no vocal gymnastics, as his timbre voice drifts across through the speakers inviting you to join him in a quiet conversation.
The subject matter of his songs is not particularly thought provoking, and quite frankly that counts as a good thing. Barlow’s murmurings display the endless flow and randomness that characterises the thought process of a young man questioning himself and his place in the world around him. On Jealous of Jesus he reflects on people’s need to uphold social structures in order to dance with Jesus. It is a sarcastically funny concept, and in an increasingly pessimistic world one can appreciate these slight digs at societal habits.
Bear in mind this album is not for the casual listener, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go. Sexual Confusion, Brand New Love and It’s So Hard to Fall in Love are great songs that help bridge the gap from sweet melodies to the genuinely weird moments. On New Worship a robotic voice claims “All my friends are killing me”, and the zombie-like moaning on Temporary Dream accounts for such strange occurrences.
Sentridoh isn’t for everyone. But if you find yourself sick of the everyday grind of the normal world then by all means escape with Weed Forestin’; that’s what Louis Barlow did.