July 9, 2005 at 3:24 am #48131
The Prehistoric Valley
J Mascis, Murph and Lou Barlow bring back some of the sounds that put the Valley on the musical map.
by James Heflin – July 7, 2005
It must really drain a guy to make as much snarling, screeching, raucous guitar noise as the Valley’s J Mascis. When asked, for instance, what it’s like to be playing with his reunited Dinosaur Jr. bandmates, he pauses a long while, then, in a gravelly, first-thing-in-the-morning, summertime headcold baritone, says, "I don’t know — the same?"
A sporting try. And look: the poor guy’s been called a precursor to grunge, when the truth of the matter is that he was, I don’t know, a cursor? He simply played grunge before the minor gods of classification called it grunge, but then Nirvana got more famous than Dinosaur Jr. for no apparent reason.
And consider that they started as Dinosaur, no "Jr.", but some actual dinosaurs, refugees from Country Joe and the Fish plus Jefferson Airplane (before Jefferson Starship, Starship, and the probable future "Ship" sued them for the name). Who wouldn’t be speechless?
Dinosaur Jr. — Mascis along with bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Emmett Jefferson "Murph" Murphy III — decided to reunite to promote the re-release of their first three albums, Dinosaur Jr. , YouÃ‚Â´re LivinÃ‚Â´ All Over Me and Bug, in newly remastered editions, complete with bonus videos. The reunion was in part made possible, says Mascis, by "apologies for past behavior." He’s probably referring to the conflict with Barlow which split the original band, sending Mascis into different incarnations of Dinosaur Jr., then into solo territory, and more recently into the project called J Mascis and the Fog. Barlow went on to form Sebadoh, and later Folk Implosion.
Dinosaur Jr. makes music that’s fairly unhinged. The centerpiece is Mascis’ guitar playing, heavy on the distorted crunch, sometimes focused, often meandering. Atop that, Mascis sings in a laid-back, inexact manner reminiscent of the, er, precursors to grunge, like the Meat Puppets or ’80s-era Flaming Lips. You can hear echoes of Neil Young, a touch of R.E.M.-flavored jangle, and heavy slabs of solid guitar.
It’s a promising recipe, and benefits from the slow-moving vocal melodies, delivered with snarl, snark, and a low-key, near-miss, sliding and dipping delivery. Murph and Barlow provide more than standard backup, with Barlow’s bass moving from straight eighth-note thump to the occasional countermelody, and Murph furiously punching snare hits and fills into the sparser corners. We’re talking loud fun, probably appropriately described by the name of Dinosaur Jr.’s "best of" album, Ear-Bleeding Country .
Perhaps Mascis is a bit reticent, too, because of the non-ear-bleeding lack of volume of a mere telephone. But he need not say much in that quieter fashion — his tangled, grandiose explosion of a band is probably communication enough.
He did get nearly loquacious when it came to one strange coincidence that’s probably proof of karmic endorsement of the reptilian reunion. Mascis was drum shopping on E-bay and thought he recognized, through dents and wear in the right places, a drum that belonged to Murph. He was right, even though the auction made no mention of the band’s Dinosaurish provenance: "I asked [Murph], ‘Did you sell that kit?’ and it turned out he had."
Events have clearly conspired. Mascis, for his part, says "I still kinda use the same stuff, and Lou borrowed his same amp and bass back from the guy he sold it to."
As for the future, Mascis says his plans consist primarily of making it through this summer of touring, in which the trio is sticking closely (and loudly) to the songs from the first three albums.
Dinosaur Jr. hits town this week, bringing its reunion back into the very territory which spawned the band in the early ’80s. Along with them, you’ll hear Magik Marker, a band J’s pretty fired up about. Well, fired up in his own carefully delivered fashion: "They’re kinda noisy — the lead singer is pretty good. Reminds me, I guess, of the Stooges or something."
Exactly.July 10, 2005 at 5:29 am #110738
FlyingCloudParticipantQuote:Murph and Barlow provide more than standard backup, with Barlow’s bass moving from straight eighth-note thump to the occasional countermelody, and Murph furiously punching snare hits and fills into the sparser corners.
good description of how their trio sound works in such a tight way
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
- Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)