Written by Andrew Howie
I listen to a lot of music that my friends have termed “frustrating”. I can see that. Some music is just difficult for the sake of being difficult, and I love music like that. On the other end of the spectrum, you have music that is great for the sake of being great, and that is Dinosaur Jr. While not overly complicated, the music is catchy and the musicianship is rock-solid, with above average solos scorching in out of left field before melting into waves of distorted wash.
I got into Dinosaur Jr. back in 2009 when I was in college. I saw their album Farm in a record store and it has sweet Ent-like creatures on the cover, so I bought it immediately, and it turned out to be really fun. I didn’t look too much more into them at the time, but I’ve come to learn that they’ve been around since the ‘80s, and have released two more albums since Farm, 2012’s I Bet On Sky and their latest release, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, which debuted last week.
Right off the bat, when you see the album cover, with the underground purple mountain trail theme, your brain tells you this will be a pleasant journey. The group’s artwork has always carried a certain aesthetic, and the music tends to be similar as well: laconic vocals, screaming distorted guitar, and invigorating bass and drums. As usual with Dinosaur Jr. albums, it gets infinitely more entertaining after multiple listens as you start to learn the structures and anticipate the breakdowns and everything, not to mention how fun it is to sing in J Mascis’ trademark talk-singing.
As far as the songs themselves, it’s a Dinosaur Jr. album. There isn’t anything super outside-the-box here, but they own that style. They’ve been a fixture since the 80s for a reason, and the songs are high-quality, straightforward rockers with just enough bizarre inflections and careening solos to be interesting and fun (particularly while driving). The one song that really stood out to me was “Be a Part”. A bit more measured and patient than the rest of the album, the guitar tone really sets a great mood: pensive, rainy day, etc.
Taken as a whole, this is exactly what we’ve come to expect from this band. The music is generally high-quality and entertaining enough for multiple listens after you hear it once (even if it’s not exactly anything new – if it’s not broken why fix it?). Dinosaur Jr. stay true to their roots without becoming mired in repetition, which is something not every band can pull off. They’ve weathered many storms in their career, so it’s encouraging to see them still playing such solid music. I hope to catch them live at some point, as they’ve been an elusive show for me.
Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not is a really fun album to lose yourself in; it looks equally well cruising the highway or at home with a good book. Uplifting with just a hint of regret, that quintessential Dinosaur Jr. sound. And now I have to go pick up my guitar and start learning songs from the album. Happy listening friends.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10