Lo-fi legend Lou Barlow has played in three of the most influential indie bands of the last quarter century: Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh and the Folk Implosion. And while he’s still recording and touring with the reunited Dinosaur (whose Farm was released this summer), his main concern these days is his solo career. Goodnight Unknown (Merge), Barlow’s second album under his own name and the follow-up to 2005’s Emoh, is his best collection of songs in a decade and features guests including Dale Crover (Melvins) and Lisa Germano. Barlow also recently joined Lara Meyerratken in Ben Lee’s new incarnation of Noise Addict, which released It Was Never About The Audience for free last month. Barlow (backed by the Missingmen) is opening for Dinosaur throughout October and part of November. As if that double duty wasn’t enough, Barlow will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our Q&A with him.
Barlow: Cartoons. My daughter doesn’t like live-action television. She likes Seinfeld, but I think it’s because she likes to watch us laugh. We’re not “no TV” people. I figure exposure to the magic box of dreams from an early age may prevent an addiction to it later on. Mostly I just don’t want to fight it. TV can be fun. Anyway, Noggin calls itself TV for pre-schoolers and, mercifully, has no commercial programming. It also has several well-done, sweet-natured shows. One is Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!: a Flash-animation, bright-as-100-suns series about a creature of undetermined sex and species and its kooky life in Wubbville. Initially, it made me wanna claw my eyes out, then I found myself enjoying the songs at the end that sum up the message of each episode. The songs are highly stylized pieces of synth/punk/power pop of the faux-naif variety (a la Apples In Stereo or an Elephant 6 band): helium voice and sugary Beatle melodies, but thing is, I like these Wubbzy songs much more than a lot of that stuff. They rival Joe Raposo’s Sesame Street classics. Children’s music without a hint of condescension, wed to the unique phrasing and enunciation in the voice—a feat that seems heroic to me. I was curious about the effect being used on the vocals, a nuanced vocoder sound, so after a bottle of Veramonte one night, I went to the Wubbzy website and sent an email to B. Mossman, who’s credited with the show’s music. I got a response a few days later along with a “Are you that Lou Barlow?” Turns out B. is an indie rocker from way back, went to Oberlin College when Liz Phair and various members of Codeine were there, spent time in Portland and was almost the third member of Quasi. He now lives in Denmark and records the songs at home using lyrics provided by the show’s main writer and creator. I find the messages, as simple as they are—love yourself (heh), be polite, share your toys, dance like a robot—to be relevant to my adult life. I wake with them in my head, where they embed after one listen. Wubbzy is some classy shit. Video after the jump.