Screaming Trees – Sweet Oblivion (1992)

frontScreaming Trees was an American rock band formed in Ellensburg, Washington in 1985 by vocalist Mark Lanegan, guitarist Gary Lee Conner, bass player Van Conner and drummer Mark Pickerel. Pickerel had been replaced by Barrett Martin by the time the band reached its most successful period. Although widely associated with grunge, the band’s sound incorporated hard rock and psychedelic elements.

Sweet Oblivion is Screaming Trees‘ sixth full-length album, released on September 8, 1992. The recording was the band’s highest landmark in terms of album sales, and was the closest they came to ever achieving mainstream success. Sweet Oblivion‘s lead single, the jumpy hard rocker “Nearly Lost You,” proved itself a highlight on the hugely successful, Seattle-themed Singles soundtrack. But even though the Screaming Trees stacked up quite well against their more famous peers in that particular showcase, the exposure didn’t make them stars. Perhaps it was because Sweet Oblivion had been released several months before Singles, and the band thus couldn’t build a sense of anticipation for a new album release, the way Alice in Chains and Smashing Pumpkins did for Dirt and Siamese Dream, respectively; nor could they capitalize on the extra publicity that goes along with new releases. For whatever reason, Singles didn’t push sales of Sweet Oblivion, as the latter only scraped the lower reaches of the Billboard charts. And that’s a shame, because the record is quite good — the best songs here are easily among the best in their catalog, and the songwriting was their most consistent yet. “Nearly Lost You” is a standout, of course, but “Dollar Bill,” “Shadow of the Season,” and “Butterfly” are nearly as impressive. Mark Lanegan‘s raspy voice conveys a weary wistfulness that adds an unexpected dimension to the group’s otherwise macho garage-psych grunge. The Trees no longer sound all that punkish, trading in some of their early, noisy fury for a more ’70s-indebted hard rock sound, but it’s done with a graceful power that proves they were at least the equal of their more famous fellow scenesters. Unfortunately, the four-year hiatus between Sweet Oblivion and its follow-up, Dust, ensured that the band would be forever relegated to cult status.

Tracklist

1.  “Shadow of the Season”   (L. Conner/Lanegan) – 4:34
2.  “Nearly Lost You”   (L. Conner/V. Conner/Lanegan) – 4:07
3.  “Dollar Bill”   (V. Conner/Lanegan) – 4:35
4.  “More or Less”   (L. Conner/V. Conner/Lanegan) – 3:11
5.  “Butterfly”   (L. Conner/V. Conner/Lanegan) – 3:22
6.  “For Celebrations Past”   (L. Conner/V. Conner/Lanegan/Martin) – 4:09
7.  “The Secret Kind”   (L. Conner/V. Conner/Lanegan/Martin) – 3:08
8.  “Winter Song”   (L. Conner/Lanegan) – 3:43
9.  “Troubled Times”   (L. Conner/V. Conner/Lanegan/Martin) – 5:20
10.  “No One Knows”   (L. Conner/Lanegan) – 5:13
11.  “Julie Paradise”   (V. Conner/Lanegan) – 5:05

Personnel

Notes

Released: September 8, 1992
Recorded: March, 1992
Genre: Grunge, neo-psychedelia
Length: 46:13

Label – Epic Records

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