Screaming Trees: Uncle Anesthesia

This is what a major label debut is supposed to sound like. So much bigger and grown up, but not watered down and toothless. It’s a band coming through the indie ranks breaking out at just the right time, soul intact, fully-formed and unique;
of themselves but a product of their influences and history. Uncle Anesthesia‘s first five tracks contain four full hearts ranging in style from blazing rockers to soulful love songs and include some nice wah-wah guitar in the title track. They stretch into new areas, like with the Mariachi-esque horn harmonies in “Disappearing,” but everything is cohesive. It never gets bland but you also never forget you’re listening to a Screaming Trees album. It’s surprisingly well-produced and sounds quite good, in contrast to the Something About Today EP which contained two of these songs and featured the same listed producers. Mark Lanegan’s voice is mature, the guitar still leads things but is mixed back enough so that it’s not overpowering. The smooth bass adds richness through contrapuntal melodies and the drumming is all tasteful in the service of the songs. It also contains two of Screaming Trees’ best songs that are as criminally overlooked as this album: “Caught Between” and “Alice Said.” I’ve been listening to this for days on repeat now and am not getting tired of it.

– “Beyond This Horizon,” “Bed Of Roses,” “Uncle Anesthesia,” “Caught Between,” “Lay Your Head Down,” “Alice Said,” “Disappearing,” “Ocean Of Confusion”
– “Story Of Her Fate,” “Before We Arise,” “Something About Today,” “Time For Light,” “Closer”
Filed Between: Screaming Trees’ Something About Today and Sweet Oblivion
Song Notes: After the jump

  1. Beyond This Horizon – great start
  2. Bed Of Roses – the first single
  3. Uncle Anesthesia – This sounds much better than it did on the EP.
  4. Story Of Her Fate –
  5. Caught Between – It’s amazing how much of a sucker I am for a mid-song key change. Best track on the album, hands down.
  6. Lay Your Head Down – A late addition to the ranks of the full-hearted. Not because it’s that good from start to finish, but because it’s nice parts are very nice. Very sweet melodies are Lanegan’s strength on this disc.
  7. Before We Arise – Slow and dark. Maje Doors influence here again.
  8. Something About Today – Almost full.
  9. Alice Said – makes a run at best album on the disc.
  10. Time For Light – Almost full.
  11. Disappearing – This doesn’t jump out at you, but it’s pretty awesome. Dense, mariachi-sounding horns except slower. Somewhere around this point in the album there is a very Doors-like lyric about a flame going higher.
  12. Ocean Of Confusion –
  13. Closer – Very Doorsy lyrics, clearly a nod to “Light My Fire”: “Bring us closer to the flame/Bring us closer to the fire/This world can’t take us any higher.”

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