Mascis attack: the real deal…
On a night carousing at World’s End in Camden in 1995, I twigged that J. Mascis was playing a solo gig downstairs. Or perhaps it was a Dinosaur Jr. show – they may have been touring the Without A Sound album, a period when they were trucking along without Lou Barlow or Murph. Although WAS is commercially their most successful record, it wasn’t exactly classic DJ.
Not to worry. The sacred trinity have been back in business since 2007’s brilliant Beyond. That record and Farm – which followed in 2009 – harken back somewhat to their SS label years. Since 2012’s I Bet On Sky, however, there has been a browing sense of Zen about the band. Very seldom has a band’s second act produced such consistently good work.
People who fell in love with their opening trilogy – which fired the UK shoegazing scene and were a huge influence on the rise of grunge – may see this as sacrilege, but this run of form is just as powerful and impressive.
The legendary civil war within the band is history. Nowadays, things are all skateboarding bulldogs and capering in the snow. Indeed, Lou Barlow’s addictive riff on ‘Garden’, perhaps the pick of the bunch here, is complemented by J’s delicious bass solo. On the feelgood ‘Take It Back’, Murph’s blues beat and a whiff of keys combine to ensure that the catchy melody trumps the sludgy guitar.
Mascis has talked about listening to Thin Lizzy during the recording of Sweep Into Space, and the influence is evident on the duelling lead sound of ‘I Met The Stones’. First single ‘I Ran Away’ features co-producer Kurt Vile on 12-string, and it’s a real slice of vintage DJ. Elsewhere, they ladle out quicksilver hooks and melodies on ‘To Be Waiting’, ‘Walking To You’ and ‘Hide Another Round’ to excellent effect. The verdict? All is well in Dinosaur land.