Your extremely late post for the week of 7/16/2012…

“Alice Said” by the Screaming Trees

I think I’m going to make a best-of mix for the Screaming Trees to serve as an introduction for friends and acquaintances who are unfamiliar with the band.  Like CAKE (the other band for whom I created such a mix), the Screaming Trees are not exactly all that well-known among people my age; in fact, the latter are probably less well-known than the former.  Also like CAKE, the Trees are one of my favorite bands and released several albums’ worth of great music during their career, so there’s definitely enough material there for a high-quality mix.

Unlike CAKE, however, the Trees’ are a defunct band which already has an official greatest hits compilation, Ocean of Confusion.  I’m not saying that I could improve on frontman Mark Lanegan’s song selection, necessarily; I’m just saying that my taste would differ a bit from his, and therefore I would omit a few of the tracks he included, and include a few tracks he omitted.  For instance, he included only three tracks from the Trees’ major-label debut, Uncle Anesthesia, leaving out some of the band’s coolest songs (notably “Bed of Roses,” “Story of Her Fate,” and “Caught Between“).

Fortunately, Ocean of Confusion includes what I believe is the best track on Uncle Anesthesia, “Alice Said.”  This is one of the faster-paced songs on the album, and it’s also an excellent example of grunge as a fuzzed-up fusion of a band’s punk and metal tendencies.  (I dig Mark Pickerel’s drumming here.)  Moreover, it strays a bit from the typical sounds of the Trees’ ’90s output and falls somewhere nearer to the garage-psychedelia of their Seattle contemporaries in Love Battery.  There’s an important distinction to note, however:  While most singers in the grunge and punk genres (including Love Battery’s Ron Nine), when taken together with their lyrics, frequently come across as angsty, it’s hard to say the same about Lanegan in this or any other song.  His full, deep voice comes across not as angsty but as actually world-weary.

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