Screaming Trees Something About Today album cover

Album Review: Screaming Trees – Something About Today

I saw Social Distortion for the first time in 1990 at Crawford Hall at University of California Irvine. It was pretty much a large gym.

The memories that remain include the deafening decibels (seriously, it was brutal) and one of the guitarists for the opening band twirled around and ‘round in a feeble attempt to rock out only to fall down. Oops.

Screaming Trees had yet to make it big, but when they did two years later with their hit album Sweet Oblivion the tumbling guitarist, probably Gary Lee Conner, and his band didn’t register until I met someone who was at that concert with similar memories. I was already onboard with Screaming Trees by then which resulted in me grabbing the EP Something about Today their major label debut on EMI.

Of all the records, CDs and cassettes I have bought over the years, I fully remember browsing the vinyl section at Tower Records and picking this up. By then, compacts discs were the order of the day so not sure exactly why I scooped Something About Today up but ever the collector I figured it was a rare breed. Chris Cornell (you know who he is) helped produce and provided background vocals on “Uncle Anesthesia” the title track to their major full length album debut a year later in 1991 which also brought along two more songs from Something About Today.

Screaming Trees reached a peak with 1992’s Sweet Oblivion and the song “Nearly Lost You” but never fully capitalized on the early 90s grunge movement. Tensions within the band and multiple hiatuses eventually cut the Screaming Trees down by 2000.

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Screaming Trees Something About Today Album Review

The 70s come alive at the drop of the needle on “Uncle Anesthesia” so expect a double take with your ears as the guitar transports you back at least a decade prior to this album’s 1990 release. But singer Mark Lanegan quickly catches the band up to grunge speed with his gravely but pretty well-rounded vocals. A distinct style that helps separate Screaming Trees from the rest quickly emerging.

“Who Lies in Darkness” doesn’t depart a whole lot from the pace of “Uncle Anesthesia” but doubles down on classic 90s grunge and closes out with Conner’s fustian guitar solo. (I would not be surprised if this was the song he was playing when he fell down.) “Ocean of Confusion” brings a fast-paced melodic rock song with a great chorus. Yep, Screaming Trees were going places at this point. A great song.

Finally, the exclusive “numb inversion version” of the title track ends the Something About Today EP with an acoustic honky-tonk take on the song which the band eventually releases as a straight forward rocker on that forthcoming full-length album Uncle Anesthesia. Got to wonder how all the discussions went with title tracks and album names and when to release what and when!

Reverse side of the Something About Today album cover

The Something About Today recording emanates quite tinny especially Lanegan’s vocals but this feature simply adds to the Seattle underground feel of the band as Screaming Trees had released five albums prior on private labels. Yes, it could use some serious remastering as Van Conner’s bass struggles to rise above his brother Gary Lee’s guitar and drummer Mark Pickeral sounds somewhere far away. I messed with the bass and treble to no avail and kept wanting to pull out my non-existent ear plugs in an attempt to capture a broader sound. Arguably though, Screaming Trees helps define old school grunge rock and this recording works to that benefit.

Grade: B  

Screaming Trees Something About Today Track List:

  1. Uncle Anesthesia
  2. Who Lies in Darkness
  3. Ocean of Confusion
  4. Something About Today (Numb Inversion Version)