Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dinosaur Jr: You're Living All Over Me.

J. Mascis, Murph's, and Lou Barlow's three album stretch as the original, pre-grunge hype, Dinosaur Jr., created a sonic canvass of mayhem, to which perverse pop accents were added. Unfortunately, this also contributed to the next big thing phenomenon--something critics and music journalists slobber on 'till it loses its potency. The fuel for their innovation was the conflict between the two that came to a head here, their second record, and only got worse on the next record, "Bug".

While Bug may have the anthem in "Freak Scene" that prepped the alternative rock movement for Nirvana's reign, "You're Living All Over Me" is superior in my opinion. Here's why: Take three guys, give them influences ranging from Black Sabbath to The Cure, in that combination J. Mascis' Neil Young vocals and effect saturated, hyper-gained guitar frenzy, and what you get is another SST breakthrough album. But, this was more than a breakthrough, it was one of the first masterpieces for alternative hard rock.

The first track "Little Furry Things" has the typical Mascis laconic vocals being beat to shit by his own screeching wah guitar and Barlow's thundering Rickenbacker bass. I can always tell it's a Rickenbacker bass just by it's trademark punchy thunder: Old Geddy Lee (Rush) tracks, Lemmy Kilmister, and Chris Squire to name a few. Mascis starts singing about bunnies and other unintelligible stuff, but it's cool. It's probably about getting hurt by somebody.

"Kracked" is a punky ditty that goes from minor keyed riffing, to laid back verses, to soft minor keyed riffing again, then into a whirlwind of drums and guitar that scorches your ears. Then Barlow's bass hops on you to beat your brains, solo style, followed by earnest, pleading, vocals by Mascis. This leads into "Sludge Feast", a hairy, sonic mud ride that flings you right into the stratosphere. Of course, Mascis starts to sing in his lazyboy voice about a girl, which then leads into, again, sonic mayhem, twin guitar solos, and terrific drum bashing by Murph. Mascis works his way back to the soft singing, then, pow, they snap your neck into again.

The next track, "The Lung", is quite pretty, despite the hard playing involved. The song is about the frustration of not being able to "collapse the lung that breathes the doubt in everyone". The thing that makes these guys stand out is that their songs have several different movements in them, almost progressive.

"Raisans" is where you'll be able to hear the Neil Young bastard son comparisons, that J. Mascis gets, in full bloom. I absolutely love this song, even though it is faulted in a couple of its transitions. This song is about the torture of being around someone that you can't get along with, but care about deeply, I think. As stated before, J. Mascis has this lazy yobbing voice that makes it hard to decipher some words.

"Tarpit" is a sunny, sludge-drenched, if that's even possible, tune that kind of hangs in the air, stoned and spacey like. That's about it on that one.

"In a Jar" is Dinosaur Jr.'s best tune in some ways, and my favorite tune of theirs. It's just funny, but sweet. I know what this song is about. The only thing I can say is that I just want someone to pat me on the head and tell me that I've been a good boy. Women only, please. I'll lick your hand in return and graze by your window. Keep the scar/scab jar away from me, though. But, I'll try to understand your pain and make you feel better.

"Lose" is an emotional, crying-out tune, that is short but pretty. Similar to what I said earlier, this is The Cure meets Neil Young.

"Poledo" is a Barlow creation that is so odd and out of place on this album. Kind of like The Beatles "Revolution No. 9", it is disjointed and full of tape edits, but it does have some actual song moments in it. If you haven't checked out Lou Barlow's group "Sebadoh", then do it now. They rock my lo-fi world.

If you have the SST version, I think that this is the end. If you have the Merge records reissue, then, you are treated to a cover of The Cures' "Just Like Heaven", only punked out with a hardcore chorus. It rules!

Play it loudest!


Vera said...

so i borrowed some of the music you've reviewed on this blog... i LOVE dinosaur jr!!

The Grunt said...

I knew you'd like these guys, Vera. I'm thinking of taking a break from this genre of music and busting out something special to me. Stay tuned.

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