Jr. formed in eighty four playing an eclectic combination of influences, with some feedback and distortion characteristics. They influenced some early grunge bands like Green River
. They're not an overly ambitious band, having released twelve albums in thirty one years. Listening through their recent releases, the most common thread is the Neil Young
influences. Then they usually mix it up with jazz rock, blues rock and sometimes psychedelic rock. The copies that were available at my record store are a tri-fold digipack, featuring a fantastic painting with brilliant colors. There is no booklet and the disc is pulled out from a cardboard pocket without a sleeve or any printed lyrics. There are no band photos. The only information provided is in two paragraphs: with one giving thanks to various people and the other giving credit to the collaborators of this release.
Singer/songwriter/guitarist J Mascis started out with hardcore punk and gradually grew into the indie rock subgenre of alternative. Mascis has also had several side projects and a couple of solo albums within the past twenty years. He sings softly yet with a baritone depth. His prolonged pronunciation of vowels, in a Southern drawl, seems unlikely from a Massachusetts native. He presents a lazy and laid back bearing, but sometimes finds a charismatic vocal groove. Mascis seems to be a well regarded guitarist on a few web sites. He likes to play high note strumming with moderate distortion. Then at times he rips out some highly skilled guitar solos, with a flashy splendor. On some songs he plays sophisticated blues rock textures and pretentious country rock licks.
The second song, Tiny, starts with slicing and dicing guitar strumming with an ascension to the higher notes. The gently sung vocals groove with a pleasant harmony. "Calling out I'm deep in debt to meet you." "Calling out is always with a stand." The drum beats follow suit inconspicuously, except with an occasional stutter stroke or two. The bass rhythms blend in with the guitar strumming to provide a subtle sense of depth. It seems to have a grunge texture similar to Creed
. Track number four, I Told Everyone, starts with melodic guitar picking. Which sounds markedly similar to the classic Bowie song, Rebel Rebel. "Everybody... everybody said hello." "Every reason...every memory left unknown." The drums just beat along with a humble presence. The bass is plucked casually, while the main attraction is the high note guitar picking. "Every reason...everyone has come and gone." "All your family...everyone has come and gone."
Bassist Lou Barlow is a founding member of Dinosaur
Jr. and also with another indie band called Sebadoh
. He brought the low fi sound approach to the band. His presence was absent during the nineties, while he was occupied with side projects and guest appearances. Barlow is mostly just a role player, but gets more emphatic during the blues rock textures. The seventh song, I Walk for Miles, starts with a deep sludge rhythm which at first seems to sound like grunge. But then it is ornamented with the classic style of Neil Young
. The rhythm sounds pretty close to the nineteen sixty nine song, Cinnamon Girl by Neil Young
. The drums beat along with some stressed stutter patterns. Then the vocals cut in with slowly enunciated, yet simple lines. "I walk for miles, I came for you, stop for a while."
Murph grew up listening to seventies heavy metal and hard rock. Then he worked his way up to playing drums for hardcore punk bands in the Boston underground scene during the early eighties. Dinosaur
Jr. got a break with a record label and so Murph was offered the drumming job. The drums are beaten hard but he doesn't force any attraction, just going mostly with the flow of the compositions. He doesn't exhibit much pizzazz or embellishment, but his beats aren't absent. Then again most of the songs move with a relaxed and easygoing pace. Track number ten, Mirror, starts with the drums playing a mixed combination of beat tones. The guitar strums out a high note series of chords in the fashion of eighties blues rock. The soft spoken lyrics go; "I've been crawling around since I met you." "I've been thinking about how I could get to you." The bass music coincides with the crescendo and follows the drum beats, while keeping a subtle profile. Then halfway in, the guitar provides a simple but catchy hook with some mid range notes.
The album's title, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
, sounds like a challenge of irony. In turn they themselves show influences of other genres that they're not associated with. They borrowed some melodies from David Bowie
, who is classified under glam rock. Some of the vocal lilts sound similar to Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam
, which is a grunge band. A couple of the textures are reminiscent of The Grateful Dead
, which is categorized as psychedelic rock. Mascis imitates lots of guitar textures from Neil Young
, as he has done since time immemorial. Although they display the changing musical shades of a chameleon, they are still just the poor man's Neil Young
. The music seems bright and cheery, yet it ultimately comes across as haunting and disturbing. Because the lyrics impose a guilt trip on the listeners. As though he has gone out of his way to do things for you, but you're too selfish to appreciate it.
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