Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dinosaur Jr.: I Bet on Sky

I'm not going to pretend like I'm the authority when I'm not. I'm the newcomer here, as I have the good fortune to be often. Like, that's the thing I actively do with this site: to find bands I haven't checked out yet, for whatever reason, and get into them if I can. Since I'm pretty selective in what I let get near me, it usually works out well (when it works at all.) So no, I'm not going to pretend I am the expert on Dinosaur Jr. and their multi-decade body of work, and how this album fits into that. I am just going to tell you that this is a fucking great album.

I named my site "Sound of the Week," basically to foreground the fact that I'm just really interested in the way things sound. The way it comes together. The sound of this album - the glamlike tone of the guitars, the hammering drums and the dried-out sound of J Mascis' voice, is just exactly what I want to hear. The highly charged opener, "Don't Pretend You Didn't Know," is a meal in and of itself. "Stick a Toe In" has a tense melancholy to it, with its tapped-out minor piano in the background and one of Mascis' most wizened, sorrowful vocals. "Watch the Corners" and "I Know It Oh So Well" are pretty breathtaking too, and then "See It On Your Side" puts it all together as an epic final exam. It's like a jam between Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars and Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

This is exactly the kind of album I always want to hear. On the one hand, the instruments, the music itself is grand, melodic, fiery, lively, passionate... but they're grounded by the vocals and lyrics, hitting the dimmer on their brightness, stifling their flame and adding a note of sour to the sweet. As observations about Dinosaur Jr. go, these may be pretty pedestrian, but they're also accurate, I think, and speak to what I believe is the simple pleasure of listening to truly great music. There are so many excellent, elegantly realized nooks and crannies on this album, you could just move right in and live in it, or at least rent it out for a while.

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