Dinosaur Jr. Is a band that I’ve listened to for thirty years. I was enamored with their music since I heard the first notes of their original release, “Dinosaur”, when songs like Repulsion and Gargoyle, felt like I stumbled on the exact songs my soul had been looking for. Dramatic, yes, but for those of us that experience music in a visceral way, it’s the truth.
For long time fans, this band has always made a beautiful, messy, but totally coherent noise that just felt right. J.’s droning vocals, heavy use of feedback and distortion and incredible loudness always felt slightly off without the rhythm section of Murph and Lou Barlow behind him. Together, the band was infinitely better when all the original members were included. There was just something innately special about the trio and the sound they made as a unit.
The biggest Dinosaur Jr. fans were elated when the original lineup re-formed in 2005 and our excitement wasn’t for nothing. Over the next decade, the trio has made music equally as good, if not even better than what they made during their first years together. While the first Dinosaur Jr. albums were incredible, there was still something about them that hinted there was even more greatness to come . A maturity level and comfort with themselves and their sound that was just not at its full capacity yet. Age and maturity become them. This is a feat that’s very hard to accomplish in an industry where bands and artists stop growing and stagnate, either living in the past or refusing to grow. On their newest release, “Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not”, the band proves that stagnation will never be an option.
The album includes some real heavy-hitters such as I Walk For Miles , that pack one hell of a punch.The joyful noise and hooks of Tiny are so addictive that you find yourself singing them all day. Mascis still peppers his lyrics with the ever elusive “You” he so often writes about. Whoever this person is, real or imaginary, she certainly takes up a lot of time in his songs. I’ve spent the last thirty years piecing together some kind of story about this person. It makes it all the more enjoyable. Letting her go, finding her, knowing she’s out there, waiting for her, still needing her as a friend. If ever the time comes when she’s missing from a Dinosaur Jr. album, I’m certainly going to miss her. She appears on the album several times, but you really feel her during the beautiful and catchy demi-ballad Part Of Me. “Come on and be a part of me. Come on and feel if it could be. Broken- hearted, come on I don’t need her to know, when we started, come on and try and let me go.”
A real gem on this album is one of the two Lou Barlow tracks. Upon first listening, the song “Love is…” struck me as so different that it almost didn’t fit with the rest of the album. With its 70’s inspired melody and folky simplicity, challenged by the bite of Mascis’s guitar, it’s a track that keeps pulling you back in again and again. And after the fourth or fifth play you realize the beauty of it isn’t just in its sound quality, but in the fact that its more evidence that this band continues to grow and expand beyond what’s expected without apology or compromise. This album is the most grown up, polished and mature version of Dinosaur Jr. that we have ever seen. But this maturity doesn’t take away any of its greatness. In fact, the ease in which they make music and the clear understanding of how to play with and off each other as band mates has made their unmistakable sound even more real and true. It’s almost as if the band is saying “It’s perfectly okay if you don’t get us. If you can’t then we really wouldn’t want you to.” This sentiment was summed up perfectly by Henry Rollins, a huge fan of the band, who during a recent interview I had with him, answered my question about why the mainstream hasn’t gotten on the Dino Jr. bandwagon, ” Screw the mainstream and their half-time Superbowl music. That’s cowpen music for box wine listeners. They’d never get anything like Dinosaur Jr.” Exactly, Henry.
“Give a Glimpse Of What Yer Not” has everything you’d expect on a Dino Jr. album, with a little something extra. It’s an album that defies genre or definition in its total sound, but one that needs no explanation. Only understanding from those of us that get it. For those of us that are real Dinosaur Jr. fans, getting the gift of a new album that will go down in music history as one of its very best, even after all these years, is some sort of small little miracle. One I will continue to be thankful for.