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August 14, 2001 at 4:43 pm #43646
Dinosaur Jr. flashes vicious teeth on ‘Hand it Over’ CD
Album Review By CHRIS MERIDA
Think of the name J. Mascis, and one thinks of extravagant guitar hooks, whiny vocals and, of course, Dinosaur Jr. Eternal members of the obscure realm of alternative music, Mascis and Dinosaur Jr. have just released their latest effort, "Hand It Over," a 12-track, 50-minute disc. In contrast to his last two efforts, "Without a Sound" and "Where You Been," through which Mascis desperately tried to break into the mainstream, he has settled back into his roots with "Hand it Over," and fans should appreciate the fresh sound.
Some of Mascis’s finest guitar doodling is found on "Nothin’s Goin On," which contains a hypnotizing riff and catchy little quirks that probably can be attributed to Shields. Surprisingly, Mascis’s vocals do not make the listener cringe but instead are an added plus on the track. The involvement of a trumpet on "I’m Insane" is definitely a first for Dinosaur Jr., but this innovation adds softer dimensions to the music.
The vocals on "Can’t We Move This," however, kill the fine mix of guitar noise and string section. One must wonder if Mascis was trying to shatter windows with such crooning.
The album gets even more problematic with "Alone," which breaks the upbeat trend with its slow, depressing sound. The dreary guitar work and simply nasty vocals create an ugly tune, one of the weakest on the disc.
One of the more successful tracks on "Hand It Over" is "Sure Not For You" and its relatively happy tone. Much work went into this track as evidenced by its excellent mix of acoustic and electric guitars. Mascis’s vocals actually sound refined, producing a flowing and well-rounded track. Another refined cut, "Mick," could turn out to be a hit for Dinosaur Jr. with its listener-friendly sound — that is if they ever release it.
The album closes triumphantly with "Gotta Know." The shimmering guitars again reflect Shields’s influence as he combines them with gentle vocals and well-orchestrated drumwork to create a sweet sound. As with the album, the track reflects the fact that Mascis does tend to stick to a familiar sound, but it is an effective formula. Fans will definitely not pass off "Hand It Over" because Mascis’ formula is well-executed, creating a mix that proves this Dinosaur Jr. experiment will not fail.
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