GRUNGEREPORT.NET SCREAMING TREES LAST WORDS ALBUM REVIEW
WRITTEN BY GRUNGEREPORT.NET OWNER BRETT BUCHANAN
The Screaming Trees released their new unreleased (recorded in 1999) album Last Words today, the followup to 1996’s Dust. The album can be purchased digitally on Amazon.com and on iTunes. There are supposedly plans for a physical release in the near future.
The album kicks off with classic rock/70’s esque “Ash Grey Sunday,” which has been one of my favorite Trees songs for years prior to its official release today (many of these songs leaked years ago). Lanegan’s lyric “Never felt so empty inside, I can’t find the tears to cry” is my favorite in the song. It’s always saddened me over the years that this song never got to be released properly as a single, because it just sounds like such a hit. It’s right up there with the Trees two rock radio hits “Nearly Lost You” and “All I Know.”
“Door Into Summer” has a very poppy melody with a dreamy vibe. “Revelator” is very reminiscent of the band’s previous album Dust from 1996, it reminds me a bit of “All I Know.” My favorite lyric from Revelator is “Destiny is never free but maybe fate’s confusing me.” The next track “Crawlspace” is a change of pace, with Lanegan singing creepily with some reverb effects. This song features some great bass playing by Van Conner, and a very grungy sounding riff from guitarist Gary Lee Conner.
“Black Rose Way” has that classic rock Screaming Trees song but Lanegan’s singing sounds a bit more modern, a bit like his singing on Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf album. “Reflections” is the first acoustic ballad on the album where Lanegan sings with some haunting harmonies supporting the main melody. This is a really great song, Lanegan sings “reflection of the life gone by don’t you pass me by” as he reminisces about life and his past.
The next track “Tomorrow Changes” sounds like it could have fit in on Sweet Oblivion. My favorite part of the song is when Lanegan sings “When tomorrow changes, change tonight, don’t say goodbye” followed by the poppy (and catchy) guitar riff. “Low Life” mixes acoustic guitars with with a retro electric riff. The ninth track on the album “Anita Grey” is the regular mix of the song found on the old leaked version of this album, not the alternate version. The song has a pounding riff and features another one of my favorite lyrics, “pieces of her in your mind, born on the wrong side of life.” Nobody can quite put misery and heartbreak into words like the Screaming Trees. This song is one of the catchiest on the album. The last song is the fitting title track “Last Words.” It only makes you wish these songs weren’t truly the Screaming Trees’ last words.
This album continues the Screaming Trees trend of not hopping on any musical trend, still firmly entrenched in their classic rock sound, juxtaposed with introspective lyrics and haunting/effortless vocals from Mark Lanegan. The songs on the album I hadn’t heard before were solid, but my favorite songs remain “Ash Gray Sunday” and “Anita Grey.” Those two songs are incredibly memorable and could have been hits if released at the right time. It’s a shame the Screaming Trees never reached big commercial success like other Seattle bands, they were on the brink of it with “Nearly Lost You” but what killed their momentum was waiting until 1996 to release the follow up to Sweet Oblivion. I think if the Trees had released an album in 1994 they would have a Platinum album to their name.
Anyways, it’s nice to see these songs finally get a real release rather than just sit around on torrent sites, but this only makes me wish more that the Screaming Trees would reunite. I know they are adamantly against it, but it would be nice to see them budge! Even if just for a few club shows or opening up for a fellow Seattle band like Pearl Jam or Soundgarden on a tour, it would be nice to be able to see these guys play together again short term to expose a new generation of fans to their music, and to this album.