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Sebastopol Extra tracks, Limited Edition

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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Limited Edition, September 25, 2001
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Audio, Cassette, October 5, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Sometimes a successful solo debut is more about honing an extant style than making wholesale changes. Here, Jay Farrar shelves his post-Uncle Tupelo band Son Volt and their Crazy Horse-meets-cowpunk sound in favor of a tuneful, acoustic approach. Solo or not, it's clear from the dark-hued melodies, obtuse lyrics, and yearning lead vocals on Sebastopol that this is obviously a Farrar record. No great stylistic leaps here, and, for fans, that's good news. An upbeat, repeat-chorused tune like "Voodoo Candle" would not be out of place on a Son Volt record. The twangy "Barstow" with David Rawlings on lap steel would have fit on a later Uncle Tupelo disc. And the mournful "Drain" is set to the tune Farrar has been writing since he began. The details are where things are different. From the violin-like keyboards of "Damaged Son," the drum machine and sitar intro of "Prelude (Make It Alright)," and the alternative tunings used throughout, it's clear that Farrar is now writing songs for himself and not a band. It's a change that casts the best moments of his craggy songwriting--the melodic turn of the chorus of "Feedkill Chain" and the solid craftsmanship of "Different Eyes"--in an even more beautiful light. --Robert Baird

1. Feel Free - Jay Farrar
2. Clear Day Thunder - Jay Farrar
3. Voodoo Candle - Jay Farrar
4. Barstow - Jay Farrar
5. Damn Shame - Jay Farrar
6. Damaged Son - Jay Farrar
7. Prelude (Make It Alright) - Jay Farrar
8. Dead Promises - Jay Farrar
9. Feed Kill Chain - Jay Farrar
10. Make It Alright
11. Fortissimo Wah
12. Drain
13. Different Eyes
14. Outside The Door
15. Equilibrium
16. Direction
17. Vitamins

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 25, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks, Limited Edition
  • Label: Artemis Records
  • ASIN: B00005OAI5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,303 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert Ryan on April 6, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Nothing in the recorded output of Jay Farrar (Uncle Tupelo through the 3 Sun Volt albums) prepared me for Sebastopol. And reading these reviews, it looks like a lot of people were equally unprepared. One review here calls it an "acoustic" record, while another complains of "shrill electronic sounds"... one seems to only like "Damn Shame" which is very unlike anything else on the record, another thinks "Barstow" is hackwork. Everybody's got two cents and I'm no exception.

I'm writing this in 2005, after "Terroir Blues" and the live records... and at this juncture, I'd say that Sebastopol is one of my favorite records of all time. As far as Farrar's work goes, I think it is second to "Trace" but just barely. What is very cool to me is just how different it is from his other stuff... what interesting stuff Jay can do when he decides to use the studio. Most of his records go for a more raw, "live band" sound which I love. But on Sebastopol, he had the time and money and desire to really use the studio step away from the formula. What he delivers is something that immediately struck me as a record that might have resulted if the Beatles were making Revolver in the 21st century with Neil Young in the band. I've never noticed a trace of Beatles in Jay, but there are moments here that feel like Rubber Soul, Revolver and even things like "It's all too much" from the Yellow Submarine album. And he does it without completely losing touch with the "cosmic American" sensibility that has been his signature.

Almost every song on this disk holds up well. Many are more tuneful and interesting than his average output, and it makes me wish that some of the Terroir Blues cuts had gotten a similar treatment. If you only like the more country edge of Jay, then you might not hang with Sebastopol.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Brianimal on October 1, 2001
Format: Audio CD
If you've made it this far to the point where you're reading reviews to see if you should buy the CD I'll save you some time...Just buy it already! A very solid effort by all accounts. It's nice every now and then to not have to look for albums from the 60's and 70's to find music with actual content and feeling. These songs don't contain alot of catchy choruses or guitar hooks, but they'll grow on you fast and you won't be able to let go. The lyrics are standard issue Farrar, insightful, inspiring, determined, choppy, sometimes melancholy, but never boring. Overall, the CD is more listenable than Jay's last two albums with Son Volt. Two small complaints, all of the instrumentals are very short and don't really add that much to the album...similar to Jodel from Wide Swing Tremolo.....and some of the other songs come in at just over 2 minutes. However, I'm only going to deduct half a point and still round up to 5 stars.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I have never been as big a fan of Jay Farrar as I am of Jeff Tweedy, and never will...but this album is pretty incredible. Many lame insults are thrown back and forth between the fans of Wilco and Son Volt. There may be some bitterness between the two stars, but how it effects the fans is beyond me. On to the album though...Jay is able to keep up his excellent lyricism and musicianship again on Sebastopol. With a variety of guests, including Gillian Welch on Barstow, this album maintains a solid feeling of hopeful isolation through every song. Farrar paints the picture of a rather desolate world, but puts in his two cents on how to cope with this planet of ours. With the inclusion of the little instrumental segways in between some of the songs, the album almost takes on the feel of a concept LP. Jay has begun to blend in more instruments, such as the sitar and some heavy synths on "Feed Kill Chain," which really haven't been incorporated into the genre before, outside of Wilco that is, and it's an overdue but welcome change. Jay's classic monotone voice is simply haunting in every way shape and form. My personal favorite tracks are the first single Voodoo Candle, Feel Free, Drain, and Make it Alright, but there is not a bad song on this album. If you love Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, and Son Volt or are a fan of great singer/songwriter music in's impossible to go wrong with this CD.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brad T. Hauck on May 28, 2002
Format: Audio CD
The first time I heard Sebastopol, I was not impressed. The CD that had previously been enjoying steady rotation in my Walkman was Whiskeytown's Faithless Street, and compared to their rollicking honky-tonk anthems and Ryan Adams' rebel-without-a-shower attitude, Sebastopol hit me like a ton of lint. It sounded flat and morose, and the elaborate instrumentation seemed about as natural as tail fins on a pick-up truck.
However, as a long-time fan of Uncle Tupelo and the UT diaspora, I stuck with it. And I'm glad I did. More than a week after I bought it, Sebastopol has not left my CD player, and it continues to grow on me. What I am learning is that listening to the new Farrar is like breaking in a good pair of work boots: there's some initial stiffness, but over time you really appreciate the workmanship.
Jay Farrar has never aspired to demagoguery, but it is easy to understand how some fans have turned his opaque lyrics into a roadmap for modern asceticism, particularly when they are spiked with such disarming wisdom as: "when the way is finally found/ in the stacks and piles of dead promises/ that we keep around" (from Dead Promises).
Farrar may be breaking new ground with Sebastopol or he may be, as some reviewers suggest, hacking his way into a morass of self-indulgence. But it hardly matters to me: I'll follow him anywhere.
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