Dinosaur Jr. Roars Again on New Album “Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not”

JAG285Dinosaur Jr.
Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not
(Jagjaguwar)
Release date: 8/5/16

Break out the ear plugs. Western Massachusetts’ own alt-rock power trio, Dinosaur Jr., is back.

New album Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not marks the fourth release by the band since the acclaimed 2005 reunion of the group’s original line-up – J Mascis (guitar, vocals), Lou Barlow (bass, vocals) and Murph (drums). In fact, this current incarnation of Dinosaur has now actually lasted longer and produced more records than it did in the ‘80s, when Mascis and company turned out such ear-crushing gems as You’re Living All Over Me and Bug. And while the new album bears less resemblance to those early classics than it does to the band’s more recent reunion work, that fact only aids the assertion that the group’s second life is no fluke, it’s a full-on resurgence.

Opening with the one-two punch of singles “Goin Down” and “Tiny,” Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not hits the ground running.

“Are you with me?” Mascis sings on the album opener. “I got more to say.”

Though not normally cited for his loquaciousness, the guitarist lets his axe speak for him with catchy riffing and skittery solos filling up both tracks’ running times. It’s alternative rock with a pop sheen for the ‘90s nostalgia age, and the Murph and Barlow rhythm section keep up a relentless chug.

“Be A Part” slows the tempo with a repeated guitar figure ringing out between lines focusing on being “broken hearted.” But it’s the Barlow penned cut “Love Is…” that marks the first deviation from the band’s trademark crunch. Over acoustic guitar and some lurking fuzz, the Sebadoh founder feels right at home on a song that wears its ‘60s influence on its sleeve. It almost even sounds like another band is playing complete with Mascis’ ragged Neil Young-like solo conjuring a classic rock vibe.

The album’s second half features a return to a heavier sound. “I Walk For Miles” feels like a slow trudge with a bludgeoning grunge riff that stomps along as Mascis’ reach for a higher register accents the weary atmosphere of the track. At nearly six minutes in length, the number also pairs with the five-plus minute “Lost All Day” to hammer out an air of wistfulness that sees lyric subject matter looking backwards at past relationships and the things that went wrong.

“Knocked Around” follows suit. “I miss you all the time and I’m lonely,” Mascis laments on the first half of the number, sounding plaintive and wrung out. Then, strength gathered, the band soars into overdrive for the rest of the track with the furious strumming barely keeping up with the relentless drumming.

Finally, it’s left to Barlow to close out the album with his second contribution. “Left/ Right” again sounds like a song that could come from another band, only this time that band is Barlow’s other group Sebadoh. More acoustic instrumentation rears its head, but where “Love Is…” showed off a wily Mascis guitar solo, here his playing feels restrained, almost terse. There are still textures aplenty, but the idiosyncrasy of the moment leaves question marks on an otherwise strong track.

Overall, Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not sees Dinosaur Jr. making subtle tweaks to a tried and true formula. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But the clock is ticking on referring to this phase of the band’s career as post-reunion. When you’ve already outlasted the era of your earliest rumblings and eclipsed a spell spent under a major label banner, those events soon start looking like bumps in the road of a significant career that just needed some time to grow into its current arc.

Read more by Michael Cimaomo at www.valleyadvocate.com/category/blogs/northeast-underground/

Lou Barlow Joins Jenny Lewis on New Song “Late Bloomer”

Jenny Lewis - The VoyagerWith lyrics mentioning a restless teenager, a muscian’s stalker and a possible ménage à trois, the song “Late Bloomer” from indie rocker Jenny Lewis’ new album The Voyager sure doesn’t lack interesting subject matter. But according to Rolling Stone, some of the track’s inspiration has roots in fact instead of fiction.

Although she describes “Late Bloomer” as a “fable, in a way,” Lewis recently revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone that the song is based on a woman she met in the ‘90s, who had a particular fascination with a former Western Mass resident.

That resident is Lou Barlow, most famous in the Pioneer Valley for his work with the bands Dinosaur Jr and Sebadoh. In fact, it was Sebadoh that Lewis’ friend was following around Europe back in the day, a piece of information that Barlow himself didn’t seem to mind when Lewis told him about it.

Lewis said that she told Barlow the story behind her song “right away,” before asking him to add backing vocals to the unfinished track.

“He was really cool about it,” she says. “I can’t believe he actually came in and laid down some vocals. I would’ve been scared to death.”

So does all this mean an indie rock love song featuring references to J Mascis or other Western Mass alternative kingpins like Thurston Moore or Franck Black could be on the horizon? As long as any future tracks show as much wit and charm as “Late Bloomer,” listeners should be ready for more.

For additional information on Jenny Lewis including upcoming concert dates please visit www.jennylewis.com. And for more information on Lou Barlow please visit www.loobiecore.com.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

youtube_icontwitter_icon

Lou Barlow reps The Elevators, The Folk Implosion and more, for What’s In My Bag?

The-Elevators-FrontlineTaking a break from his ongoing tour with the indie rock band Sebadoh, former Westfield resident Lou Barlow (also of Dinosaur Jr, The Folk Implosion) stopped by Amoeba Music in Hollywood recently to film a segment for the store’s popular “What’s In My Bag?” video series.

While Barlow’s choices included trendier vinyl selections by the likes of new indie rock favorite Ty Segall as well as the Unknown Mortal Orchestra, he also took time to pick up albums that feature in the framework of his own musical history.

One such record, Frontline, was actually recorded by the new wave group The Elevators, who used to play in and around the Pioneer Valley as well as Boston in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Barlow himself remembers the album as being one he sold from his collection in 1981 to get money for hardcore records, but commercially the release didn’t make much noise.

Another album Barlow picked up for a personal reason was the debut from his one of his former bands, The Folk Implosion. Labeled as an “employee pick,” by the Amoeba staff, the album can now be viewed as a piece of history, since Barlow no longer has a close relationship with fellow Implosion member John Davis, and the likelihood of another release by the duo is slim.

See Lou Barlow’s full appearance and check out the rest of his picks via Amoeba Music’s “What’s In My Bag?” here:

For more information on Lou Barlow and Amoeba Music please visit www.loobiecore.com and www.amoeba.com.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

youtube_icontwitter_icon

’90s Music Strikes Back: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Sebadoh

In_Utero_(Nirvana)_album_coverThe arrival of the fall season always brings with it a feeling of the past being renewed. For every homecoming parade and harvest yield, there is a palpable sense that one is obligated to look back, not only over the past year, which is rapidly coming to a close, but also to much older moments long since committed to memory or jotted down in now-faded script.

For the purpose of this essay, let’s revisit a time 20 years ago, before the Internet had worked its way into nearly every home, before smart phones brought the Internet into nearly every pocket, before texting, before Bieber, and before “twerking” became a national buzzword.

1993 was a tumultuous year in American and world history. From the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, to the standoff at the Branch Dividian compound in Waco, Texas, tragedy often shared space in the headlines alongside glimmers of hope, as evidenced by the peace accord that was reached in September of 1993 by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, as well as the December signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement by then-President Bill Clinton.

But amidst all the good news and bad news there was also music. Two years removed from the moment that punk “broke” into the mainstream via the release of Nirvana’s seminal Nevermind album and still months away from that sad day in April of 1994 when the alt-rock curtain started to come down, music in 1993 existed in an isolated window of time.

Perhaps the most-hyped album of ’93 was Nirvana’s third record In Utero. A 20th anniversary edition of the album is even being released this week. And perhaps now, with all the B-sides, demos, and remasterings of the original material seeing the light of day, proper weight can be given to the significance this record had back in a year when Kurt Cobain was still alive.

First and foremost, much like 20th anniversary re-release of Nevermind, this reissue of Nirvana’s final studio album is stocked full with riches. The “Super Deluxe Edition” even features a recording of the group’s frequently-lauded “Live and Loud” concert from December 13, 1993. However, for hardcore fans the real focus is on the two never-before released instrumentals “Forgotten Tune” and the aptly-titled “Jam.”

Though highly hyped, each of these long-lost cuts is ragged and unfinished, begging the thought that the bottom of Cobain and company’s alt-rock barrel might have finally been reached. Indeed, the real prizes are outtakes of album cuts, like a more R.EM.-influenced take on “All Apologies,” and drummer Dave Grohl’s first solo rendering of the B-side “Marigold.” Sadly, Nirvana would never get to realize the potential showed by such songs’ drastically different-sounding versions, but now listeners can rejoice in the group’s defiant last gasp.

Of course after the dust finally started to settle on the time when Seattle rock ruled the world, there was still one band from the scene that was left standing – Pearl Jam. In 1993, there was probably no other group that understood the pressure Nirvana was under to record a follow-up to its breakthrough album better than Eddie Vedder and company. After riding in on the grunge tidal wave with its 1991 debut Ten, the band released its sophomore effort, Vs., in 1993 and watched over a million copies of the album fly off shelves in just its first week of availability.

20 years later, the record still holds up. Sure tracks like “Daughter,” “Animal” and “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town” now receive airplay on classic rock radio stations instead of Top 40 outlets, but little of the record’s vitriol and aggression has waned. And the band responsible for such material isn’t settling into elder-statesmen status just yet either.

Pearl Jam’s 10th studio album Lightning Bolt is set to be released in just a few short weeks on October 14th. Featuring the singles “Mind Your Manners” and “Sirens,” the album is already garnering praise for nodding to the past with a frenetic pace on some songs and for employing a mature vibe on others, proof positive that the band members are ready at times to embrace their status as survivors.

Watch the official video for “Sirens” by Pearl Jam here:

Speaking of survivors, there are few, if any, musicians that can lay claim to being fired from one band and intentionally disbanding another, only to rejoin and reform each group respectively with no drop-off in the quality of output and critical recognition. However, by reuniting with the other original members of Dinosaur Jr and by reconvening his other project Sebadoh over the course of the past decade, former Westfield resident Lou Barlow has accomplished such a feat. It just didn’t happen overnight.

In 1993, Barlow was several years removed from his bitter ouster from Dinosaur, and his new band Sebadoh was on the verge of a notable period of success. The group would release its final album recorded with founding member Eric Gaffney, Bubble and Scrape, during the course of the year. But as the decade wore on, the release of acclaimed albums like Bakesale and Harmacy would bring the band even greater recognition in indie rock circles and beyond.

Then after the tour for Sebadoh’s 1999 album The Sebadoh, the group went on an extended hiatus. Barlow had a new project dubbed The Folk Implosion, and group member Jason Lowenstein was hard at work on solo material.

Various Sebadoh reunions started to occur as early as 2003. But after Barlow rejoined the original lineup Dinosaur Jr in 2005, things really started to kick into high gear. In 2011, Sebadoh, now consisting of Barlow, Lowenstein and new drummer Bob D’Amico, hit the road for a tour to promote reissues of Bakesale and Harmacy. And just one year later, the band began releasing its first new music since The Sebadoh.

Fortunately for ‘90s music fans, that release, The Secret EP, has proven not to be just a one-off. In fact, the band released, Defend Yourself, its first full studio album in 14 years just last week. Featuring indie rock gems like “I Will” as well as more alt-country influenced tracks like “Inquiries,” the release is more than just a nostalgic tour through the halls of college radio’s past, at times it even plays like a hopeful wish for the future.

Watch the official video for “I Will” by Sebadoh here:

Perhaps the chill in the air that comes with crisp autumn mornings has always existed as a reminder. Every time we pull our collars up to shield ourselves from the change in temperature, or maybe every time we see the leaves change color and fall, we are being told to look back. Though 1993 was a flash in time, 12 short months split into 365 days, the echoes of that period can still be heard today. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sebadoh – the music of the ‘90s lives on in the 21st century. So look back or lean forward, it makes no difference. The season is changing, but the soundtrack stays the same.

For more information on Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Sebadoh, please visit nirvana.com, pearljam.com, and sebadoh.com.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

youtube_icontwitter_icon

Lou Barlow talks Dinosaur Jr, making a new album, and what it’s like to return to Western Mass

Dinosaur Jr (Brantley Gutierrez) 2

Dinosaur Jr (Photo credit: Brantley Gutierrez)

Back in March of 2011, I sat down for a conversation with alternative musician Lou Barlow (see photo, middle) prior to an appearance by his group Sebadoh at the Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton.

Since that time, Barlow has returned to the Pioneer Valley on several occasions, including an appearance at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton with Dinosaur Jr for a concert benefitting the Whole Children organization of Hadley, and a second appearance at Pearl Street with Sebadoh in August featuring the group touring behind its first newly recorded music in 14 years.

Now fresh off the release of Dinosaur’s newest album, I Bet On Sky, the third record since the original line-up’s reunion in 2005, I caught up again with Barlow as the bassist prepares to join guitarist J Mascis and drummer Murph on stage Wednesday for another show at Pearl Street with a portion of proceeds going to The Common School in Belchertown.

“I love Western Mass,” Barlow said during his call in from Los Angeles. “Every time I return there, the drive up from Westfield, I take [Route] 10 to Northampton. It’s just a lovely ride through the rolling hills to Easthampton and into Northampton. I love the Valley.”

And the Valley has proven to be a fruitful location for Barlow. I Bet On Sky was recorded at Mascis’ home studio in Amherst, and Barlow contributed two songs to the release – the up-tempo rocker “Rude” and the more riff-orientated “Recognition.”

“I’ve always wanted to do a Ramones-style song with Dinosaur,” Barlow says. “A simple song that could’ve also possibly been a Sebadoh song, but I just wanted to do it with Dinosaur and have a J Mascis lead in there. So my song ‘Rude’ I kind of had this idea of a Ramones-style song with a real country melody to it, and I picked together a song on acoustic guitar that seemed to fit that pretty well. I demoed the song here in LA with my friend Dale Crover from the Melvins.”

ibetonsky.textoptions2He adds, “‘Recognition’” was another one that’s on the record that I did. I’m a semi-closeted Queens of the Stone Age fan. I think they’re just a great hard rock band, one of the best modern rock bands, if not the best, and I had a riff that reminded me of Queens of the Stone Age. So I thought that would be really interesting to see if Dinosaur could pull that off.”

If early audience reactions to Dinosaur’s new material are any indication, the band seems to have risen to the challenge. According to Barlow, the group has been playing more new songs on tour than ever before. And set lists have been well-received, with a few surprises from throughout Dinosaur Jr’s career and beyond being played live on stage.

“We’re playing probably the best cross-section of songs from all the different eras of the band,” says Barlow. “We’ve been playing ‘Start Choppin’,’ a big kind of hit from the band in the ‘90s. We’re also doing a Deep Wound song from the very first band J and I had together. We’re spanning the band’s career I think.”

Another treat for fans has been a music video Dinosaur Jr completed for the new track “Watch the Corners.” The treatment for the video was written by the comedy website Funny or Die, and features an appearance by actor Tim Heidecker, who is known for his work on such Adult Swim shows as “Tom Goes to the Mayor” and “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”

“If you want to make a video where no one knows how old and ugly the band is, that was the way to do it,” Barlow laughs. “Just throw a bunch of good-looking teenagers in the video, a sort of well-known comedian [Heidecker], and keep the band as low-profile as possible. In that way I think it achieved its goal.”

Watch the video for the new Dinosaur Jr song “Watch the Corners” here:

Still, despite all this focus on new material, Barlow notes that there’s another event on Dinosaur’s calendar that will see the band looking back into its past instead of towards the future. On December 1st, the band will be playing a special show at Terminal 5 in New York City to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its 1987 album You’re Living All Over Me. Special guests like Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and guitarist Johnny Marr have already been announced as participants in the concert, and Barlow is excited to revisit one of his favorite records.

He says, “It’s going to be cool. It’s my favorite Dinosaur record. Everything really came together for us sound-wise. We’re rehearsing [for the show] in Easthampton, and we’ll throw together some ideas and see how we can make it something unique and special.”

In addition to his upcoming plans with Dinosaur, Barlow also can’t wait to get back into the studio with his other band Sebadoh to follow-up on the material the group recorded for its “Secret EP,” which was sold during stops on its recent summer tour, as well as possibly work on some songs for a solo release.

“[Sebadoh] has a bunch of material that we’re working on,” he says. “We put out an EP earlier this year, and we’re going to do an LP for next year. Solo stuff, I don’t know. It depends. I always have stuff. I just have to sit down and finish it.”

As for any final thoughts he’d like to leave with fans in Western Mass who are thinking about attending the Wednesday show at Pearl Street, Barlow wants to give a shout out to one special person in particular who’s been there from the very beginning.

“I just want to say hi to my mom,” he says. “Hi mom Barlow.”

Dinosaur Jr with opener Hush Arbors, Nov. 28, 8 p.m. $25, Pearl Street Nightclub, 10 Pearl St., Northampton, (413) 584-7771, http://www.iheg.com/pearl_street_main.asp.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

youtube_icon twitter_icon

Lou Barlow keeps Valentine’s Day indie with “Brand New Love” and more

Lou Barlow (Jens Jurgensen)

Lou Barlow, circa 1987 (Photo credit: Jens Jurgensen)

Saint Valentine can smash his head on some punk rock this holiday.

Instead of cute candy hearts, boxes of chocolate or a bouquet of flowers, Western Massachusetts native Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, etc.) is giving his fans a real gift for February 14 – a deluxe re-issue of the classic lo-fi Sentridoh album Weed Forestin’.

Originally self-released by Barlow on cassette in 1987, the record was also previously made available on the Homestead Records compilation The Freed Weed, which included a selection of material from Barlow’s Sebadoh debut The Freed Man.

However, technology appears to have finally caught up with such a DIY touchstone. And as part of the complete re-issue and restoration treatment, Weed Forestin’ is now being made available to audiences in a multitude of formats including vinyl and high-quality digital downloads via www.sentridoh.bandcamp.com.

Additionally, to accompany the Weed Forestin’ re-issue a second batch of material recorded during the same era and featuring unreleased songs, early versions and extended tape collages is being made available under the title Child of the Apocalypse. While even hardcore Barlow junkies will likely be shocked by the surprises in store on this disc’s track listing, the collection also includes the original version of the song “Poledo,” which many fans might recognize from the 1987 Dinosaur Jr LP You’re Living All Over Me.

Watch the video for the Sentridoh track “Brand New Love” from the album “Weed Forestin’” here:

Plus if all this good news wasn’t enough, rumor has it that Sebadoh may be hitting the studio to work on its first new record since 1999 this spring. Of course, Barlow has to finish recording with the boys of Dinosaur Jr first. J Mascis and company are currently ensconced in the hills of Massachusetts cutting new tracks for their third album since reuniting with the original line-up in 2005. And though all this playing means a heavier than normal workload for Lou, indie audiences couldn’t be happier.

Your move cupid.

For more information on Lou Barlow’s “Weed Forestin” reissue, additional Sentridoh material and more please visit www.sentridoh.bandcamp.com.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

youtube_icon twitter_icon

Keith Wood and Hush Arbors: a secret it’s hard to keep quiet about

Keith Wood (Andrew Kesin)

Keith Wood (Photo credit: Andrew Kesin)

One of the many highlights of the Whole Children benefit concert held at the Calvin Theatre on June 21 was the appearance of area resident and Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore.

Performing with his band Demolished Thoughts (titled after his recent solo album of the same name), Moore treated those in attendance to a festive set full of psychedelic folk jams, which frequently featured thrilling crescendos and heroic displays of acoustic guitar prowess.

However, perhaps lost in the shuffle of a night that also included appearances by fellow indie stars – Henry Rollins, Lou Barlow, and J Mascis – was the on-stage presence of musician and Demolished Thoughts band member Keith Wood (see photo).

As the primary force behind indie rock act Hush Arbors, Wood is more than just your average sideman. And after witnessing him play live, I was given new reason to revisit his most recent studio album Yankee Reality, which was released by Thurston Moore’s Easthampton-based Ecstatic Peace record label in 2009.

While I admit that I was none too blown away by the record as a whole during my first listening, I still feel now, as I did then, that many of the tracks manage to reside in a realm far above the usual dreck that typically lands on my desk next to my morning coffee (which, by the way, is far from dreck, and absolutely delicious).

For example, the song “Coming Home” ambles along nicely as a country rocker with a slight ‘60s tinge and “For While You Slept” (featuring guitar courtesy of record producer J Mascis) begins briefly with the opening riff from Tom Petty’s “American Girl” before evolving into a strident march.

“Hold out / your lovely hands/ Take this weary man,” Wood sings. And upon hearing the words it’s not difficult to picture a pair of lovers walking arm-in-arm towards the sunset.

Watch the video for Yankee Reality track “Coming Home” here:

Elsewhere, album opener “Day Before” ably sets the stage for what follows. Namely, Wood’s voice remains in the spotlight as acoustic guitars strum around him and cymbal crashes drive the tune home.

Though overall there doesn’t seem to be enough material that truly grabs a listener’s attention, as a testament to the single-minded creativity of an artist who’s not afraid to follow his own course, Yankee Reality is that rare work that manages to create a world all of its own.

Or, according to fellow musician and label mate James Jackson Toth (of Wooden Wand fame):

Yankee Reality is a credit to Keith Wood’s vast talent as a songwriter and performer, but also, stands as a shining example of his breadth of focus and versatility. How many fools out there love Merle Haggard, The Dead and Dinosaur Jr equally? I know one.”

For more information on Hush Arbors or to see future tour dates please visit www.husharbors.co.uk.

And, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on Twitter @NE_Underground. Plus, check out concert footage featuring artists like Dinosaur Jr., Garland Jeffreys, and more on the Underground’s official YouTube page.