Here are two new offerings by artists who started recording in the 1980s and seem to be riding a renewed creative wave. For Dinosaur Jr., this is the third album they’ve released since reuniting in 2006. Ex-Husker Du and Sugar front man Bob Mould describes his latest solo album as “38 minutes of rock”. Sonically, they are two sides of the same coin.
Surprisingly, the once-volatile original line-up of Dinosaur Jr. (J. Mascis, Lou Barlow, Murph) is still hanging together and sounding as strong as ever. On I Bet The Sky they sound like they did 20-some years ago, but with a few new musical textures to keep things interesting.
The first track, Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know finds Mascis ripping right in to his guitar, but, hark!, what’s that I hear? That’s a synthesizer underpinning the roar of J.’s guitar! Barlow’s bass seems to have gone AWOL in the mix, but a piano makes its presence known later in the tune.
Up next, Watch The Corners features a chugging guitar riff and a typically laid-back Mascis vocal. His guitar takes off with a wicked solo later in the piece.
Almost Fare is a more traditional pop song, but still sounds like Dinosaur Jr., with a nod to Nirvana (well, actually, it was Nirvana that first heard Dinosaur Jr.)
The album tends to run out of steam toward the end with J’s voice sounding particularly weary on What Was That, but then the band recharges its batteries for the Neil Young and Crazy Horse-inspired See It On Your Side, resulting in six and a half minutes of guitar-drenched heaven.
Click here to listen to Watch The Corners from I Bet On Sky:
Meanwhile Bob Mould has been revisiting his past, having published his autobiography last year and toured the classic Sugar album, Copper Blue. Mould considers Silver Age to be a “companion piece” to that album, and it sure sounds like it.
Like Sugar, this is made by a trio of musicians. Along with Mould on guitar and vocals, there’s bass player Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster.
Silver Age begins with Star Machine, a rather vicious statement on the music business, which, like Dinosaur Jr., invokes memories of Nirvana thanks to the now-classic quiet/loud arrangement of the verses and the chorus.
The title track is filled with punk energy and the first single, The Descent, is even faster. Mould sounds like he’s having a great time rocking out. The songs often segue one into another, giving the impression this is one long tune.
If it is, it’s a good one. .
Click here to listen to Round The City Square from Silver Age:
Neither Dinosaur Jr. nor Bob Mould are going to change the world with these albums, but they already helped do that 25 years ago. It’s good to hear them still making a racket and showing the youngsters how it’s done.