You Say It's Your Birthday: Screaming Trees' Mark Lanegan

Screaming Trees' singer/songwriter and acclaimed soloist Mark Lanegan turns 33 today. The Trees hail from Ellensburg, Wash., a town that writer Michael Azerrad has described as "a dull cowtown on the wrong side of Washington's Cascade Mountains. " In addition to Lanegan, the group includes Gary Lee Conner on guitar, bassist (and Gary Lee's brother) Van Conner and drummer Mark Pickerel. The Trees meld classic hard rock with a style of post-punk rock characteristic of their former label, SST. As teenagers during the early '80s, they were in the audience when Black Flag and other SST bands such as the Meat Puppets came through their area. They adopted the plaid shirt/long hair "nevermind" attitude that originated with SST bands. The Trees began recording for SST in 1985, and their raw, crude rock, occasionally sounding like the Stooges tossed into a blender, is documented on their SST, SubPop, Homestead and Velvetone releases. At the beginning of the '90s, they signed with Epic, and in '91 released Uncle Anesthesia. But it is their '92 release, Sweet Oblivion, that may be their masterpiece to date. Lanegan has recorded two excellent solo albums, the most recent being 1994's Whiskey for the Holy Ghost. Today is also the birthday of Christian pop singer Amy Grant, who turns 37.