Posts Tagged ‘dinosaur jr’

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Near the end of Reagan’s first term, the Western Massachusetts Hardcore scene coughed up an insanely shaped chunk called Dinosaur. Comprised of WMHC vets, the trio was a miasmic tornado of guitar noise, bad attitude and near-subliminal pop-based-shape-shifting. Through their existence, Dinosaur (amended to Dinosaur Jr. for legal reasons) defined a very specific, very aggressive set of oblique song-based responses to what was going on. Their one constant was the scalp-fryingly loud guitar and deeply buried vocals of J Mascis.

Sure, Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis isn’t reinventing the wheel with this latest release, but that’s because he invented the wheel. Where was your outrage when Thomas Edison refused to redesign the light bulb? Exactly. This here is the title track off his latest solo record of the same name, released just last week.

Like its predecessors, Elastic Days was recorded at J’s own Bisquiteen studio. Mascis does almost all his own stunts, although Ken Miauri (who also appeared on Tied to a Star) plays keyboards and there are a few guest vocal spots. These include old mates Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), and Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion, etc.), as well as the newly added voice of Zoë Randell (Luluc)  among others. But the show is mostly J’s and J’s alone.

He laughs when I tell him I’m surprised by how melodic his vocals seem to have gotten. Asked if that was intentional, he says, “No. I took some singing lessons and do vocal warm-ups now, but that was mostly just to keep from blowing out my vocal cords when Dino started touring again. The biggest difference with this record might have to do with the drums. I’d just got a new drum set I was really excited about. I don’t have too many drum outlets at the moment, so I played a lot more drums than I’d originally planned. I just kept playing. [laughs] I’d play the acoustic guitar parts then head right to the drums.”

Elastic Days brims with great moments. Epic hooks that snare you in surprisingly subtle ways, guitar textures that slide against each other like old lovers, and structures that range from a neo-power-ballad (“Web So Dense”) to jazzily-canted West Coasty post-psych (“Give It Off”) to a track that subliminally recalls the keyboard approach of Scott Thurston-era Stooges (“Drop Me”). The album plays out with a combination of holism and variety that is certain to set many brains ablaze.

J says he’ll be taking this album on the road later in the year. He’ll be playing by himself, but unlike other solo tours he says he’ll be standing up this time. “I used to just sit down and build a little fort around myself – amps, music stands, drinks stands, all that stuff. But I just realized it sounds better if the amps are higher up because I’m so used to playing with stacks. So I’ll stand this time.” I ask if it’s not pretty weird to stand alone on a big stage. “Yeah,” he says. “But it’s weird sitting down too.” Ha. Good point. One needs to be elastic. In all things.

There is plenty of drumming on the dozen songs on Elastic Days. But for those expecting the hallucinatory overload of Dinosaur Jr’s live attack, the gentleness of the approach here will draw easy comparisons to Neil Young’s binary approach to working solo versus working with Crazy Horse.

Elastic Days (Release Date: November 9th, 2018)

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J Mascis - Elastic Days

Near the end of Reagan’s first term, the Western Massachusetts Hardcore scene coughed up an insanely shaped chunk called Dinosaur. Comprised of WMHC vets, the trio was a miasmic tornado of guitar noise, bad attitude and near-subliminal pop-based-shape-shifting. Through their existence, Dinosaur (amended to Dinosaur Jr. for legal reasons) defined a very specific, very aggressive set of oblique song-based responses to what was going on. Their one constant was the scalp-fryingly loud guitar and deeply buried vocals of J Mascis.

A couple of years before they ended their reign, J cut a solo album called Martin + Me. Recorded live and acoustic, the record allowed the bones of J’s songs to be totally visible for the first time. Fans were surprised to hear how melodically elegant these compositions were, even if J still seemed interested in swallowing some of the words that most folks would have sung. Since then, through the reformation of the original Dinosaur Jr lineup in 2005, J has recorded solo albums now and then. And those album, Sings + Chant for AMMA (2005), Several Shades of Why (2011) and Tied to a Star (2014) had all delivered incredible sets of songs presented with a minimum of bombast and a surfeit of cool.

Like its predecessors, Elastic Days was recorded at J’s own Bisquiteen studio. Mascis does almost all his own stunts, although Ken Miauri (who also appeared on Tied to a Star) plays keyboards and there are a few guest vocal spots. These include old mates Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), and Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion, etc.), as well as the newly added voice of Zoë Randell (Luluc)  among others. But the show is mostly J’s and J’s alone.

Pre-order the Loser Edition LP on clear with purple swirl-colored vinyl

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Near the end of Reagan’s first term, the Western Massachusetts Hardcore scene coughed up an insanely shaped chunk called Dinosaur. Comprised of WMHC vets, the trio was a miasmic tornado of guitar noise, bad attitude and near-subliminal pop-based-shape-shifting. Through their existence, Dinosaur (amended to Dinosaur Jr. for legal reasons) defined a very specific, very aggressive set of oblique song-based responses to what was going on. Their one constant was the scalp-fryingly loud guitar and deeply buried vocals of J Mascis.

A couple of years before they ended their reign, J cut a solo album called Martin + Me. Recorded live and acoustic, the record allowed the bones of J’s songs to be totally visible for the first time. Fans were surprised to hear how melodically elegant these compositions were, even if J still seemed interested in swallowing some of the words that most folks would have sung. Since then, through the reformation of the original Dinosaur Jr lineup in 2005, J has recorded solo albums now and then. And those album, Sings + Chant for AMMA (2005), Several Shades of Why (2011) and Tied to a Star (2014) had all delivered incredible sets of songs presented with a minimum of bombast and a surfeit of cool.

Like its predecessors, Elastic Days was recorded at J’s own Bisquiteen studio. Mascis does almost all his own stunts, although Ken Miauri (who also appeared on Tied to a Star) plays keyboards and there are a few guest vocal spots. These include old mates Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), and Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion, etc.), as well as the newly added voice of Zoë Randell (Luluc)  among others. But the show is mostly J’s .

He laughs when I tell him I’m surprised by how melodic his vocals seem to have gotten. Asked if that was intentional, he says, “No. I took some singing lessons and do vocal warm-ups now, but that was mostly just to keep from blowing out my vocal cords when Dino started touring again. The biggest difference with this record might have to do with the drums. I’d just got a new drum set I was really excited about. I don’t have too many drum outlets at the moment, so I played a lot more drums than I’d originally planned. I just kept playing. [laughs] I’d play the acoustic guitar parts then head right to the drums.”

There is plenty of drumming on the dozen songs on Elastic Days. But for those expecting the hallucinatory overload of Dinosaur Jr’s live attack, the gentleness of the approach here will draw easy comparisons to Neil Young’s binary approach to working solo versus working with Crazy Horse. This is a lazy man’s shorthand, but it still rings true.

Elastic Days brims with great moments. Epic hooks that snare you in surprisingly subtle ways, guitar textures that slide against each other like old lovers, and structures that range from a neo-power-ballad (“Web So Dense”) to jazzily-canted West Coasty post-psych (“Give It Off”) to a track that subliminally recalls the keyboard approach of Scott Thurston-era Stooges (“Drop Me”). The album plays out with a combination of holism and variety that is certain to set many brains ablaze.

J says he’ll be taking this album on the road later in the year. He’ll be playing by himself, but unlike other solo tours he says he’ll be standing up this time. “I used to just sit down and build a little fort around myself – amps, music stands, drinks stands, all that stuff. But I just realized it sounds better if the amps are higher up because I’m so used to playing with stacks. So I’ll stand this time.” I ask if it’s not pretty weird to stand alone on a big stage. “Yeah,” he says. “But it’s weird sitting down too.” Ha. Good point. One needs to be elastic.

Elastic Days (Release Date: November 9th, 2018

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Dinosaur Jr.  have shared a brand-new track titled “Hold Unknown” for Adult Swim’s Singles Program.

The track is the band’s first new music since their critically acclaimed 2016 album, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, their 11th studio album. On “Hold Unknown,” frontman J Mascis sings with his typical baritone growl alongside an unfiltered, pedal-to-the-metal sound marked by hurried, melodic guitars and driving percussion.

Artists that have previously contributed to Adult Swim’s Singles Program include Julia Holter, Code Orange, Brian Eno, Kevin Shields, Wavves, Ghostface Killah and more.

UK Tour is just over a month away!
March 21 – SWX Bristol
March 22 – SUB89 : Reading
March 23 – Roundhouse – London
March 24 – The Albert Hall – Manchester
March 26 – Plug – Sheffield
March 27 – Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen- Leeds 

Where You Been

Released in 1993, Dinosaur Jr.’s fifth studio album roars as loudly as any of its grunge-era contemporaries, but without their occasional bombast. “Where You Been” features ten terrific songs, kicking off with the yearning “Out There” and a Top 10 Modern Rock hit “Start Choppin,” and never lets up from there. While J Mascis plays a dominant role – in addition to writing and production credits, his just-woke-up vocals and epic guitar solos thread through every song – this is Dinosaur Jr.’s sole Sire set with a real band behind him, as bassist Mike Johnson and drummer Murph provide the insistent rhythmic drive. While flirting with mainstream success (the collection reached the Billboard album chart), Where You Been frames a gentle outlook with alt-rock thunder, and remains a firm fan favourite.

The Word was a 1990’s Channel 4 television programme in the United Kingdom. Dinosaur Jr. performing “Start Choppin'” live at The Word 1994

Let’s face facts — in 2016 it is remarkable that there’s a new Dinosuar Jr album to go ape over. After all, the original line-up of the band (J Mascis, Lou Barlow & Murph) only recorded three full albums during their initial run in the 1980s. Everyone was gob-smacked when they reunited in 2005. Even more so when they opted to stay together, as they have for 11 years now . And with the release of ‘Give a Glimpse Of What Yer Not’, this trio has released more albums in the 21st Century than they did in the 20th.

Last year, 2015, saw the amazing live shows Dinosaur Jr played to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their eponymous debut LP. and the songs they were celebrating are amazing enough, But essentially that was a nostalgia fest a very fine nostalgia fest too but it’s the future that beckons the living. So you have to be pretty damn chuffed that the band has managed to pull another magnificent rabbit out of their collective hat.

The songs on ‘Give a Glimpse...’ were recorded over the past year or so, again at Amherst’s Bisquiteen Studio (located in a secret nook of J’s basement). The sound is great and roaring with J’Mascis various bleeding-ear psychedelic guitar touches oozing their way into the smudge-pop modeling, while Murph’s drums pound like Fred Flintstone’s feet, and Lou’s bass weaves back and forth between proggy melodicism and post-core thug-hunch.

Of the 11 songs presented, nine are J’s. Mascis he has had so many projects going at various times — from the retro glam of Sweet Apple to the metal dunt of Witch to the ostrich-rock overload of Heavy Blanket — it’s always a little shocking he can compartmentalize well enough to keep his tunes with Dinosaur Jr sounding so instantly recognizable. Which is not to say they’re interchangeable, it’s just that he has a very idiosyncratic way of structurally assembling and presenting the songs. Even when they’re not being played in concert (with amps turned to 12, and vibrating ’til they glow red).the way he hits his guitar strings has a unique quality that immediately lets you know you’re listening to Dinosaur Jr.

The other two songs here were written and sung by Lou, and they’re quite great as well. Although Barlow’s template and palette are more mercurial and shifting (as they are with his other ongoing projects, like Sebadoh), the two here have a consonant resonance. Both songs carry the same vibe as Roger McGuinn’s great early sides with the Byrds (although this has to do more with spirit than specific notes), reminding us that albums like Fifth Dimension and Notorious Byrd Brothers were among the main models for East Coast bands like the Soft White Underbelly. “Love Is…” and “Left/Right” represent the same kind of style displacement.

J Mascis‘ songs offer a lot of formal style moves as well. Over the last three decades, J’s songwriting has continued to pursue confusion, isolation and mis-communication as its main themes (which is one of the reasons he’s always been the artist-of-choice for so many misfits), but he has really worked on the craft of songwriting, and he’s constantly improving his ability to convey these feelings rather than merely inhabit them. “Lost All Day” might be the most eloquently sad of the songs on ‘Give a Glimpse...’, but my favorite is probably “Mirror,” which comes off like the best song Blue Osyter Cult song they didn’t record for Agents of Fortune. The opening (and repeating) line, “I’ve been crawling around since I met you,” branded itself onto my brain the instant I heard it. But then, “Goin’ Down” (not the Freddie King tune) is a stone classic as well. And “Tiny” has the prettiest pop architecture. “Be A Part” continually makes me flash on the first time I heard “Cowgirl in the Sand.” “I Told Everyone” is almost like a Bowie tribute when you hear it from another room. “Good to Know” has the record’s most insane guitar solo. “I Walk for Miles” contains the most thuggish riffs. “Knocked Around” features the most elegant use of falsetto. And the whole damn thing is great.  In short, on its 11th LP, Dinosaur Jr does what it has done best for the past 30-plus years, which is to remind us of the life-giving force of guitar, bass, drums and scary-big stack of Marshall amps.

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Consider, of the two bands that came from Massachusetts that formed in the mid-’80s, broke up for more than a decade, reunited and began releasing new music in the aughts. One of these groups has grown more vital, even louder with time, while the other has shown steady, middle-aged decline. Perhaps it’s the fact that the best Pixies music was so tied to Black Francis’ youthful, unhinged shriek, now significantly diminished with age. Meanwhile, J Mascis’ creaky Dylan-meets-Young affect has been immune to the ravages of time. Perhaps you can point to the Pixies losing Kim Deal, while Dinosaur Jr’s original rhythm section of Murph and Barlow remains a formidable, tightly coupled force. Of course, having an idiot-savant guitar god in your band doesn’t hurt either. One is reminded that former guitar deity Eric Clapton descended into milquetoast-y irrelevance in his 50s, while Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not still hears Mascis as a purveyor of fireworks displays that would put the Zambellis to shame. In short, on its 11th LP, Dinosaur Jr does what it has done best for the past 30-plus years, which is to remind us of the life-giving force of guitar, bass, drums and scary-big stack of Marshall amps.

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