Review by Ellen Eldridge
Though Dinosaur Jr. and J. Mascis have long been revered as Seattle scene icons, I didn’t get a chance to catch the wave until much later. In fact, the first time I spent a great deal of time with Mascis’ work was his solo release, Several Shades of Why, that I reviewed last year.
The voice itself recalls the sound of growing angst subdued by a world where the originators of grunge were just garage rock rebels trying to carve a sense of self from the hard rock around them. As soon as Mascis begins singing “Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know” on I Bet On Sky I feel pulled right back into the ever-present weighted feeling that pervaded in the ‘90s.
Echoing and drafty guitars flow effortlessly into fuzzy and distorted sounds on “Watch the Corners.” The mourning feeling I get when I listen to the sullen shrinking vocals on these songs just feels like an era that’s clinging to life. I certainly hope bands like Dinosaur Jr. stick more than just a toe in to the pool of popular music. The overwhelming amount of mainstream music contains nothing more than pretty faces and power chords, at best.
Dinosaur Jr. may be considered classic to those whose lives revolved around self-discovery in the ‘90s. “Rude” recalls Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain vocally and the again fuzzy guitars recall Incesticide. Dinosaur Jr. maintains its sense of melody within a box of trapped and targeted angst.
The closing song, “See It on Your Side,” may have the most heart-felt introductory guitar solo. Lyrics circle ideas of “getting back” as the guitar weeps….
Fans of Dinosaur Jr. as well as J. Mascis’ solo work will feel a surging sense of comfort and familiarity with I Bet the Sky. Released September 18 on Sub Pop Records.