Kurt Cobain and Nirvana blew the door wide open for Grunge and many acts that were deemed “alternative” from every single genre out there. Specifically with Grunge, acts like the Screaming Trees were suddenly much more instantly accessible than ever before musically and commercially. These guys were led by vocalist Mark Lanegan and this is the most commercially successful record that they made. Historically and musically, it is worth observing so let’s hear this album and judge how well aged it is (or not).

Shadow Of The Season begins with bongos, loud and distorted electric guitars. Soon enough, thunderous drum rolls enter and Mark Lanegan enters, singing somewhat like Captain Beefheart did back in the 1960s. Still, undeniably awesome music is here and the music at hand is heavy, interesting and articulate. Indeed, the singing here sounds a little like Mark Lanegan has a very whiskey-soaked styled voice. Still, the song, playing and performance are impressive enough to win over fans of older and (some) newer fans, too. The descending sustained note played throughout is really awesome, and the guitar solo is expressive and manic. In short, this is very, very good and is worth your time. An Eastern-sounding melody is played over tom-tom drums in the solo break, before the band and singer launch back into action. Really decent and interesting listening, this is surprisingly good. If you like Heavy Rock, you will enjoy this. The song ends with stereo panned feedback from the guitars, a nice touch.

Nearly Lost You, the group’s biggest hit, begins with an unusual set of rhythms, followed by a groovy and well-constructed piece of music. Mark Lanegan sounds raspy on this song, and despite that, the band work extremely well together to make these mind-blowing songs shine. Grunge proves itself to be more than a one-trick pony, and the music of the Screaming Trees and many others at the time proved this. A wah-wah guitar solo steals the spotlight in the middle of the song before rolling drumbeats grab your attention. The music here is surprisingly fresh and good, these guys obviously knew exactly how to make decent tunes. It is catchy enough to be enjoyed repeatedly. Another awesome effort and this album so far makes a great listening experience. There is an organ buried in the mix as well which is clearly heard at the end of the song, a nice addition to the music.

Dollar Bill begins with strummed acoustic guitar, tambourine and nice harmony based singing. Soon enough, the song begins on the subject that everyone in life chases: money. The lyrics and singing here are fantastic, and when the chorus enters, we are underway in a musical Grunge classic. The music is quite straightforward, heavy but accessible for many music fans, particularly Rock fans who like Grunge but miss the point of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. A twisted and odd guitar solo is in the second half of this song, which adds to the unusual atmosphere. With pleas to one’s mother and others in one’s life, this comes across as an awe-inspiring listen. Refreshing, like a nice beer on a hot summer’s day, this is lively music. Good job Screaming Trees, the song enters with sustained electric guitar chords and acoustic strumming with singing, which concludes gradually. Nice effort overall.

More Or Less begins with pounding drums and crunchy guitars, with a guitar solo section thrown in for good measure. Mark Lanegan sings from a very deep place musically, and he sings about comparisons in one’s life that tug at heartstrings. This is impressive and listenable Grunge music that doesn’t have the Punkish feel of Nirvana, the Poppy nature of Pearl Jam or the Black Sabbath apeing of Soundgarden, it just sounds really awesome on its own. More guitar solos are present in the second half of the song, and this sounds really great, ending with some top singing and sustained guitar chords. Excellent work.

Butterfly begins with raw guitar chords and an organ ongoing in the background, before going straight into the song. The music here, for Grunge, is very pretty and different. It sounds original and different to very much most music out there, which confirms this album as a real classic of its kind. The Psychedelic imagery and passionate performance on this song are good. Unfortunately, the guitar solos are fairly awful, but this can be easily overlooked. These guys were on top of their game, and the music and playing reflect that on this album. Good, even for a lesser track on this album. It ends with more sustained chords verging on feedback.

For Celebrations Past begins with some Fender-ish sounding guitar playing and the song sounds really simple but effective. This is another fairly good listen and just energetic, driven and melodic throughout. Simple music for those, particularly teenagers, who need something decent and reassuring to listen to, especially on a bad day after High School. A cool and powerful piece of music that is simply just great to hear, one can hear the consistency of the music through these songs. Chanting harmonies that are borderline screaming, Mark Lanegan paints himself as a unique vocalist, which he is. Great effort guys.

The Secret Kind begins with electrifying guitar riffs, a shuffled and speedy backbeat and another very energetic song. Even the lesser tracks on this album sound well done and logical in approach. Most people who would find 20 minute long Progressive Rock styled pieces difficult to understand and appreciate will understand and appreciate this simple music. There is a drum solo here, followed by a rather frenetic guitar solo that hits you well. All in all, this is an exciting and mosh pit styled anthem that just sounds really spot on, when you need some artistic Grunge styled music. There is a huge amount of guitar soloing just before the song ends after only just over three minutes in length. Well done.

Winter Song begins with multiple overdubbed rhythm guitar parts before Mark Lanegan gets singing about Jesus knocking on his door at an hour that is unusual for him to ever do so. This is another good song from the album and a highlight for fans of the Screaming Trees. The backwards guitars and dramatic drumming make this piece interesting and worth listening to. The story lyrically is interesting and well written, and Mark Lanegan sings really excellently on this song. A refreshing and reassuring piece of music, this proves that many acts at the time had some real competition. Interesting song.

Troubled Times is a five-minute-long piece that begins with some dark and heavy bass guitar riffing, along with Mark Lanegan singing with his voice that sounds very husky. Soon enough, a drum roll signals the next section of the song, which is a little more uptempo and busy. This is definitely an underrated song about difficulties that one may face in their lives. Let’s face it, we have all been there in some way, shape or form. The song here does not sound overly negative, unlike Nirvana, it just does what it needs to do. A catchy guitar solo along with harmonies is in the middle, before returning back into the story at hand. A very thoroughly good and listenable piece of music, the Screaming Trees are definitely overlooked and underrated as a Grunge based band. Note that although this isn’t the greatest album ever made, it is absolutely worth hearing. The final part of the song has sustained guitar chords and clanging basslines, with some pseudo-Jimi Hendrix guitar work. Different. It ends with some feedback.

No One Knows begins with overdriven and melodic guitars, with some further guitars thrown into the mix to melodic effect. The song sounds a little melancholy and deals with relationship issues, but sounds deep and meaningful regardless. Surely this music is underrated? It sounds like something that is a treasure trove for fans of 1990s Grunge/Rock music. In any case, this is an anthem and good crowd-pleasing song that hits the spot. The guitar solo is pretty awful, however, and despite the rest of the song being good, kills the momentum a little. Anyway, a nice ballad based piece that tugs at heartstrings, not brainstrings. A good approach to keep the approach to the music simple, something that Nirvana before them and Oasis after them took note of. The guitar solo is pretty awful though and clearly needed a rethink before being recorded. A good song regardless.

Julie Paradise is the last song on this album. It begins with straightforward guitar riffs and simple percussion before Mark Lanegan sings well over the top of it all. His singing style proves that you don’t need to sound 100% clean and clear to be a great singer (provided you hit the notes well enough), something that Britpop railed against. This is an upbeat and powerful song that is quick and energetic. Once again, the guitar solos sound like they are a little out of place on this song, but it is a genuine improvement on other songs on this album that have worse guitar solos than this. A groovy and very listenable song anyway, if you can look past its flaws. A good listen of a song, and a fairly good album to enjoy when the mood strikes. The guitar solos are dual tracked and intense, finishing the song dramatically.

This is a fairly good Grunge album. Yes, it certainly has its musical flaws, particularly in the dead horse being flogged nature of the repeated and off-centre wah-wah guitar solos, which needed a clear rethink on occasion. Despite that, the music on this album is good, but sadly, not great. It is something that should be visited once in a while though for historical reference. Too bad Grunge died fairly rapidly after Kurt Cobain of Nirvana’s suicide in 1994. Had he not done so, the music here may have had a better chance. Still, it is good for what it is.

Different but straightforward guitar music.

7/10

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