When you’re as talented as J.Mascis, it’s no surprise Kurt Cobain suggested he join Nirvana, not once, but twice. Instead, Mascis carved a deep niché in the world of alternative rock with over thirty years leading Dinosaur Jr as a kind of guitar anti-hero, capable of turning out bad ass riffs and face peeling solos as matter of factly as possible, no pomp, no posture.
On their latest album, ’Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not’, the original Dinosaur Jr. line up, which reformed 11 years back, deliver pretty much what you might expect – killer indie rock. Tracks like the first single, ‘Tiny’, and ‘Lost All Day’ are as close to their formula for catchy American alternative rock as you can get without self plagiarism.
The simple power riffing and irresistible hook of ‘Goin Down’ follows the template to good effect, as does the more morose sounding ‘I Told Everyone’, yet it is the tracks which switch things up a little that make this record really worthwhile. The first standout moment comes with ‘Be a Part’, a beautifully textured slice of melancholy, its smooth guitar lines and subtle shifts in the rhythms and melodies are pure rock gold.
Bassist Lou Barlow’s writing and singing contributions mark another enjoyable stylistic difference with the acoustic touches of ‘Left/Right’ and the superb ’70s vibe of ‘Love Is…’. Nevertheless, it’s tracks like ‘I Walk For Miles’, its big dirty riff loaded with bottom end, and ‘Knocked Around’ that really nail it. The laid back summery feel that precedes the frantic thrash around will make ‘Knocked…’ an incredible live track.
That Dinosaur Jr are old school, no one can deny, but they sound as fresh and exciting as ever, and in an age where guitarists don’t really do solos that much, it’s nice to hear someone really shred. Great record.
‘Give a Glimpse of What Yet Not’ by Dinosaur Jr. is out now on Jagjaguwar.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)