By: Sarah MacDonald –
There is a suitable way to appreciate the ever increasingly popular resurrection of grunge music and it isn’t donning your best plaid, ripped jeans, and scowl. It’s in loud, angry guitar riffs, taut drumbeats, and husky, gruff vocals. Of course, it helps to have been around before grunge and completely relevant and important to it at its peak. Dinosaur Jr., the ambivalently cool late-80s Massachusetts set, release their 10th studio album I Bet On Sky with hints as to why being apathetic and loud kind of ruled.
Full disclosure: this isn’t a grunge album. And Dinosaur Jr. isn’t a grunge band. They existed with quintessentially cool late 80’s indie bands like Sonic Youth and Butthole Surfers and fit into that blasé mood: angry and loud but effortlessly able to sound bored without being bored.
This record is an evolution. It is the third record since the original members—J Mascis, Lou Marlow and Murph (Emmett Patrick Murphy) — reformed in 2005. They are a loud, vivid troupe and with this second release on Jagjaguwar records. They prove that, with time and endurance, it can all still be really great.
“Watch the Corners” intro guitar courtesy of J Mascis is a head banging classic.
The record is littered with hints of other musical genres. It’s loud and to hear it live will be another kind of experience. It has influences ranging from punk to hardcore to pop; it is a mix of old and new, of all the elements of rock that make rock so good. This is where it excels. On the heels of Mascis’ recent solo record Several Shades of Why, some songs, such as “Almost Fare”, slow down and exude a thoughtfulness that is usually left out of hard and fast songs. The track is melancholic and a little heartbreaking. Apathy rules on track “Rude” as Mascis sings “I wish I didn’t care cos caring is rude.”
With a 25 plus year musical career and countless other side or solo projects, Dinosaur Jr. have mastered the musical realm like no other. It’s a hushed, effortless control that is very apparent on I Bet On Sky. The record highlights the best bits of the old and the thrilling feeling of new songs and moving forward musically. In any case, it is a head-bobbing, air-guitaring, rock out kind of a record and there’s nothing terrible about that.