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/

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Music News: Neil Young Preps Pono and Trent Reznor’s Record Cost

Neil Young (photo-credit-danny-clinch) edit

Neil Young (Photo credit: Danny Clinch)

In a statement sure to bring joy to audio purists, classic rocker Neil Young issued an update Tuesday on the state of his Pono Music project, which he hopes will one day “save listeners” from the compressed sound quality of MP3’s.

“The simplest way to describe what we’ve accomplished is that we’ve liberated the music of the artist from the digital file and restored it to its original artistic quality – as it was in the studio,” Young wrote on the official Pono Facebook page this week. “Our mission is also to make Pono just as accessible as any music you buy and listen to today.”

Eyeing an early 2014 launch for the project’s Pono music portable player, which will be a direct competitor of the iPod, the singer of such hits as “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Heart of Gold” has already teamed with the Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music, encouraging the “big three” to convert their audio libraries to higher sound quality in preparation of being made available through Young’s service.

But the former Buffalo Springfield member isn’t the only artist to throw his hat into the audio distribution ring. The Warner Music Group has also already invested millions of dollars into another venture spearheaded by rapper/ producer Dr. Dre. The “Beats Music” project, formerly known as Project Daisy, has been described as an “Internet music service,” where listeners can create their own playlists, much like the project’s competing streaming service Spotify. However, one big difference between the two companies is the involvement of Nine Inch Nails’ artist Trent Reznor, who has helped design the “Beats Music” service, emphasizing the importance of “intelligent curation” with recommendations coming from “connoisseurs.”

Speaking of Reznor, the artist made waves last week in an interview with Spin Magazine, where he declared the cost of what listeners should be willing to pay for his music.

“I’m saying my personal feeling is that my album’s not a dime,” Reznor said. “It’s not a buck. I made it as well as I could, and it costs 10 bucks, or go fuck yourself.”

Though his comments garnered flak from others, who cited the hypocrisy of Reznor previously releasing albums for free online only now to release his band’s latest work Hesitation Marks via a deal with a major label, the Nine Inch Nails frontman also received support from fellow musician, Amanda Palmer.

“When Trent went from doing-it-himself back to using a major label a little while ago, I saw a lot of people bitching about it on Twitter and calling him a ‘traitor’ or whatever,” Palmer wrote on her blog. “I totally stood by and defended his decision to work with a label. He can do what he wants. Why the fuck not?”

Later declaring, “IT’S THE ARTIST’S DECISION. LET THE ARTIST DECIDE,” Palmer also seemed to harbor no ill will towards Reznor, even though in his Spin interview the singer seemed to make a snide comment in her direction, saying, “I know that what we’re doing flies in the face of the Kickstarter Amanda-Palmer-Start-a-Revolution thing, which is fine for her, but I’m not super-comfortable with the idea of Ziggy Stardust shaking his cup for scraps.”

Palmer responded, “Even though I may never do it like NIN, or like Radiohead, or like Miley Cyrus, I think whatever path they choose is fine. Use a label. Don’t use a label. Make mainstream music. Make loud dissonant noise. Twerk your brains out. Being an artist is about forging your own path (in content and in business practice) and following your own path.”

And to think I almost made it all the way to the end of this blog post without mentioning Miley Cyrus or twerking…maybe next time.

For more information on Neil Young, Pono Music, Beats Music or Trent Reznor, please visit the following websites: www.neilyoung.warnerreprise.com, www.mypono.com, www.beatsmusic.com, www.nin.com.

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J Mascis tapped for appearance at Neil Young tribute concert

J Mascis (Photo credit: Francis Chung)

J Mascis (Photo credit: Francis Chung)

Amherst, Mass. native and Dinosaur Jr frontman J Mascis (see photo at right) has labored for years under the comparisons made between his voice and that of the legendary singer/ songwriter Neil Young. Now, according to an announcement made by the website americansongwriter.com, it appears J will get the chance to put his pipes to the test as part of a concert to honor the enigmatic Canadian himself.

The event, to be held at Carnegie Hall in New York City on February 10, also plans to feature the talents of artists Pete Yorn, Keller Williams, the Cowboy Junkies and many more. Additionally, all the proceeds from the show will be donated to non-profit organizations like the Church Street School of Music, The Pinwheel Project, and the Music Unites All-Youth Choir amongst others

Meanwhile, in other Mascis news, the silver-haired axe man is set to release his fifth solo album “Several Shades of Why” through Sub Pop Records on March 15. To download the new track “Not Enough” for free visit J’s official site here. And, for all of you who ever wondered about the possible connection made between Mascis and Uma Thurman during her time growing up in Amherst, check out this Pitchfork review of the J. Mascis and the Fog album “Free so Free”.

While I don’t know if I buy into all the connections the article makes, if the claims made are true then Thurman is responsible for inspiring some of the greatest guitar jams of the last 20 years. Sort of makes you want to forgive her for appearing in such lemons as “Paycheck” and “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” huh?

For more information on J Mascis and future tour dates please visit www.jmascis.com/.