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Dinosaur Jr. – [Album]

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

There's no easier way to say this than to just say it: as satisfying as Dinosaur Jr.'s newest albums have been since the band reconvened in 2007, I Bet On Sky is the one fans have been waiting for. Why? Because this album finally begins to show some new growth and forward motion beyond the fantastic body of work that the band released in the Eighties. On a comparative scale, 2007's Beyond was about as “just okay” as a Dinosaur record could get, but fans overlooked that shortcoming because they assumed the group was just kicking the rust off the belts and Farm was better because it illustrated that the band was intent on stretching beyond the standard “reunion” tricks; the intention was to be a working band again. Now though, seven years after they re-started the engines, Dinosaur Jr. has boldly jumped off of their old stomping ground , started taking a few new risks and come up with a few new tricks on I Bet On Sky.

The first thing that long-time fans will notice about Dinosaur now on I Bet On Sky is how much leaner the band presents itself as being – compared to the sounds once expressed on albums like You're Living All Over Me, Bug and Green Mind. Here, J. Mascis' guitars have some pretty searing bite rather than simply steamrolling over listeners with a solid mass of sound, as was often once the plan of attack. Instead, songs like “Don't Pretend You Didn't Know,” “Watch The Corners,” “I Know It So Well” and “What Was That” all use a more spry, distinctively “modern indie” and “punk” tempo rather than the more “classic rock” pacing which was stock on all of Dinosaur's previous albums. In that “change is good” corner, particular prizes like “I Know It So Well” (which speeds close to Meat Puppets' “Backwater,” actually) and “Watch The Corners” shine brightest; with an almost poly-rhythmic skip Dinosaur easily sheds a few years in their delivery and, because it seems less labored, the results are refreshing and feel adventurous. Likewise, because songs like “Almost Fare” and “What Was That” run a little lighter, they punch harder and faster – and listeners will have to actively resist the urge to cheer the band's ambition. Those sudden shifts in tempo and arrangement prove to be exhilarating and will have listeners coming back to revisit them regularly.

All that said and it certainly won't need to be re-iterated that I Bet On Sky isn't a complete departure for Dinosaur Jr., it's just a fantastic example of refined approach. Those refinements are both excellent and important though, and they've clearly rejuvenated the band on I Bet On Sky; this isn't a “new Dinosaur Jr.,” but it is certainly an exciting rethinking of the band's core powers.

Artist:

www.dinosaurjr.com/
www.myspace.com/dinosaurjr
www.facebook.com/DinosaurJr
www.twitter.com/dinosaurjr

Download:

Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky – “Watch The Corners” – [mp3]

Album:

I Bet On Sky will be released on September 18, 2012 via Jagjaguwar Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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Dinosaur Jr. – [Album]

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Friday, 08 May 2009

Over the last few years, a remarkable number of the great (and greatly under-appreciated) rock bands from the Eighties and Nineties have staged reunion concerts and tours to impressive fanfare and critical kudos (to date, the list of great – at least partially – reunited includes Flipper, The Germs, X, Smashing Pumpkins, The Pixies and Alice In Chains), but the single greatest shock came when Dinosaur Jr. announced that the band's original line-up was back together and had plans to record and tour in 2005. At the height of its powers (between 1983 and 1988), Dinosaur Jr. was the toast of the American underground community; there were two great songwriters in the band (J Mascis and Lou Barlow), there was not a single weak link in the instrumental line-up and they were making music that appealed to both mainstream and underground audiences alike. The band's in-fighting was also legendary though; tales of vicious bickering and near-constant arguing between Mascis and Barlow and Mascis and Murph have become almost as well-known as the band's music and the animosity even continued into the band members' subsequent projects (fans still wonder how much of Sebadoh's first three albums were inspired by the feuding) – it was just that hostile.

Fans might have been surprised at the announcement and might have been skeptical at what it might yield in the way of new music, but while their first album back, Beyond, wasn't exactly the single greatest document they'd ever released, it wasn't mawkishly poor either. The songs were sturdy if unremarkable and that was enough to make long-time devotees at least sort of happy; on a comparative scale to the releases by other recently reunited bands, it wasn't as good as the Meat Puppets' Rise To Your Knees and it wasn't as bad as Smashing Pumpkins' Zeitgeist, it was perfectly respectable (the greatest complaints were that the production was too clean and the riffs were too slight) and just plainly okay. It was, in a word, a comeback record.

There is an important difference between a “comeback” and a “return” though. A comeback simply presents a cloying enactment of old glories in slightly new forms; it's a safe and easy production – a reprise. A return entails the reappearance of an entity that's aware time has passed and so uses the lessons previously learned to continue forth, undaunted, onto new territory.

Farm is Dinosaur Jr.'s return.

With concussive and scraggy riffs contrasted against sweetly nostalgic melodies, guitarist J Mascis claims his place as an elder statesman of modern indie rock songwriting (he wrote ten of Farm's twelve tracks, Barlow contributed the other two) right off the top of Farm and, framed by an obviously rejuvenated Murph and Barlow, “Pieces” brims with desperation, hope, wanton need and the power to make even the most jaded listeners cheer as loud as the elevated-to-the-point-of-clipping decibel levels that drive the song and instantly command attention.

After the initial salvo, it would be easy for long-time fans to characterize the eleven tracks that follow it as sublime (the band's groove has been re-discovered and the record dusts every corner of it), but only because it maintains that energy and quality rather than languishing; there is more to this proceeding than just statements of reclamation, but it's a damned good start. As “I Want You To Know” careens into “Oceans In The Way,” years fall off of the band members and the martial strains compel excitement in them rather than simply inciting a series of safe reproductions; they're actually feeling it rather than just re-enacting it. Dinosaur Jr. continues to build steam as they burn through “Your Weather,” “Over It” (which is the most infectious piece of power pop to be released in years, incidentally), “See You” and “I Don't Want To Go There” – knocking each song out of the park as they go – and even when they do scale back the bombast for a more subdued breather (“There's No Here”), it gets done with an authoritative crunch.

More than on Beyond, Dinosaur Jr. has re-staked its place in indie, pop and rock music with Farm and done so in the best possible fashion: they've pushed their established sound harder than they ever have previously and just powered through without looking back. In the simplest of terms, Dinosaur Jr. proved that they could return on Beyond and that they could still be vital but, on Farm, they actually are back, do sound vital and clearly have captivating muses worth chasing. The proof of all of those things lies in all twelve of Farm's tracks; fans can only hope they do it more than just this once.

Artist:

Dinosaur Jr. online

Dinosaur Jr. myspace
Dinosaur Jr. facebook

Download:
“I Want You To Know” from Farm.

Album:
Farm will be released on Jagjaguwar Records on June 23. Pre-order your copy here at Amazon.

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