Thursday, July 12, 2007

album of the day

Beyond by Dinosaur Jr.

Well, this is a pleasant surprise. The original line-up of Dinosaur Jr. last played together on an album in 1988's Bug - the group continued after that as a J Mascis solo project in all but name until 1997's Hand It Over, while original bassist Lou Barlow went off and formed Sebadoh, who were reasonably successful in a low-key sort of way, but who I never really got the hang of.

But now they've re-formed and released a new album, this one in fact. And it sounds pretty much exactly as you'd expect it to sound. Their 2001 compilation Ear-Bleeding Country sums it up pretty succinctly; these are fairly simple country-rock-tinged tunes played by a thunderous rock power trio fronted by a mad guitar genius, Mascis, who these days seems to have turned into a cross between Jerry Garcia and Gandalf.

It's a more ramshackle, less produced affair than their best album, 1993's Where You Been - you can hear that on the first track, the rockin' Almost Ready, where someone seems to have turned the recording apparatus on a couple of seconds after the song started. The other contrast with that album is that Barlow gets to sing a couple of songs here, Back To Your Heart and Lightning Bulb - weirdly he sounds a lot like Bob Mould. There's the obligatory weird plangent acoustic number (I Got Lost) in among the noise, otherwise it's the usual showcase for Mascis' absurdly brilliant guitar playing. The YouTube collection of video clips is all a bit lo-fi; this one of them playing This Is All I Came To Do in Northampton, Massachussets last November is probably about the best.

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