Dinosaur Jr. reunites after 20 years for new album that goes “Beyond” expectations
It’s been almost 20 years since Dinosaur Jr. fans have heard the sound of the holy trinity: the original lineup.
After bassist Lou Barlow left the three-man, garage rock band Dinosaur Jr. in 1989, lead singer and guitarist J Mascis continued with the project. In 1993 Murph, the drummer, left as well.
“Beyond,” the band’s new album, will be released on May 1 and is the first album to feature all three members since 1988’s release, “Bug.”
The combination once again proves that the three musicians belong together. “Beyond” is one of the best albums to take on the Dinosaur Jr. name since “Bug.”
Like Sonic Youth’s 2006 release, “Rather Ripped,” Dinosaur Jr.’s latest album doesn’t get into the gritty, distorted sound of their earlier albums. This album is easier to listen to than their first three, which may be helpful for people who are unfamiliar with the band.
The album starts off with the song, “Almost Ready.” The first 25 seconds of the song will make Dinosaur Jr. fans feel like they’re back home with the band they fell in love with. Mascis plays a catchy, high-pitched lick, which starts the album off with blast of energy.
The song smoothly transitions into “Crumble,” a more melodic tune that could be heard on Sonic Youth’s latest album. This is a song where the feedback and dirtiness of Dinosaur Jr. is missing in action.
The next song, “Pick Me Up,” is back in the normal Dino-swing with distorted guitars that wail throughout the song as Mascis repeats the lyrics “Hold on.” The song ends in a three-minute guitar solo that howls over the melody, ending in a great crescendo with Barlow and Murph finishing off the song.
“Back To Your Heart” is one of the only two songs Barlow sings on the album. It’s surprising Mascis doesn’t let him sing more, since Barlow’s vocals on both songs are amazing. Sounding like Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, Barlow sings a heartfelt ballad.
Further in the album is Dinosaur Jr.’s ode to metal. “It’s Me,” is harder and darker than the previous two tracks which sound like they’re intended for a nice summer day.
“We’re Not Alone,” a poppy song with a catchy tune, follows the metal ballad. Any Dinosaur Jr. song includes Mascis’ signature guitar sound. There’s no way around it.
The next track slows the album down with a sweet, acoustic tune. “I Got Lost” showcases Mascis’ falsetto voice with almost tear-wrenching lyrics. The song is very simple and the consistent beat of the bass drum mesmerizes the listener.
The 50-minute-long album ends with “What If I Knew,” a song with lyrics that could be interpreted about the band’s break-up and reuniting. Like any good Dinosaur Jr. song, it ends in Mascis’ screaming, signature guitar solo.
Dinosaur Jr. 101
Dinosaur Jr. started in 1983 in Amherst, Mass., when Mascis recruited high school friend, Barlow, for the band. Murph joined the team shortly after and in 1985 Dinosaur Jr., then known just as Dinosaur, released its first, self-titled album. The band grew a reputation for its loud live shows and acquired a cult following.
“Jr.” was added to the name in 1986 due to legal reasons and the band joined Black Flag’s indie record label, SST. Dinosaur Jr. then released one of the band’s best albums of all time, “You’re Living All Over Me.”
With Sonic Youth playing a similar style of music, the two bands set the standard for a new kind of rock. Stepping away from the early ’80s punk scene, bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth set the stage for up-and-coming bands like Nirvana.
Dinosaur Jr.’s records on SST helped spread the word about alternative rock in the early ’90s by making it more commercial and easily accessible. Nirvana played a similar kind of garage/grunge rock as Dinosaur Jr. and became extremely popular. Dinosaur Jr. was left in the dust as a cult classic.
When Barlow left the band in 1989, he started his own side project, Sebadoh, a classic ’90s lof-fi indie band. Mascis continued to use the name Dinosaur Jr. for his own projects. After the band broke up, his albums in the ’90s were not as well received. Both Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. decided to do reunion tours. Sebadoh will tour in 2007 after a 14-year break and Dinosaur Jr. in 2006 after 19.
Dinosaur Jr. plays June 15 at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins, June 16 for the Westword Music Showcase, and June 17 in Aspen.
Contact Campus Press staff writer Jenny Bergen at Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.