Wednesday, April 18th, 2007
This Is All I Came To Do
When the original lineup of Dinosaur Jr announced that they were reuniting in 2005 to promote the reissues of their first three albums, it was a happening about as high on the “not bloody likely”-o-meter as you were going to find. The acrimony between founding members J Mascis and Lou Barlow was both legendary and well-documented (and hilariously so). But time and money heal all wounds so together with original drummer Murph, they set out on a deafening round of touring and managed to do so without killing one another.
And then they announced that they were breaking that cardinal (yet oft broken) rule of rock reunions – “thou shalt not record new material”. Normally this would be cause for great alarm (see: The Stooges) but considering that Dinosaur Jr was and always had essentially been the J Mascis show and J’s recent track record with The Fog had been pretty damn solid, it was news that one could actually get excited about. I’ll sidebar here and state that I’ve never been a Lou Barlow fan and by and large, I prefer the albums that followed his departure from the band after 1988’s Bug. No more numbers like “Poledo”? Aww, pity. But having the original lineup together again is far more marketable, and so come May 1, we’ll have Beyond to add to the Dinosaur Jr canon. And you know what? It’s pretty damn good.
First and foremost, it sounds like a Dinosaur Jr record – which is to say it’s overflowing with J’s relentless soloing – the man will solo relentlessly as long as he draws breath and probably for a good while after – and nasal, uber-slacker vocals. These are positives, in case that wasn’t clear. And credit where credit’s due – Barlow’s bass playing is more aggressive than I’d have thought him capable of and his two compositions are decent, with him thankfully having learned how to sing in the last 18 years. But even with him back in the fold, this doesn’t sound like a return to the their early days – it’s much more 90s than 80s-sounding. The production, though far from slick, is loads cleaner and much more reminiscent of the days of Where You Been. Again, a positive. It’s unlikely that there are any stone cold classic songs on Beyond, no “Freak Scene” or “Start Choppin'”, but the level of songwriting is consistently high and even they’re doing it for the money as they’ve openly confessed, they’re not phoning it in. A welcome return.
The band hit the road to support beginning next month and will be at the Phoenix in Toronto on June 8. This is a NxNE show and they’re generously allowing 100 badges and wristbands in – everyone else pays the $34.50 ticket price. The show’s an early one – doors at 6PM – so I’m hoping that even with the two openers (Awesome Color and Uncut), it’ll be over early enough that I can make it to Sneaky Dee’s for the whole Voxtrot show. Go go College streetcar! The festival has also booked Mascis for an interview with CFNY’s Dave Bookman at the Holiday Inn on King St for earlier that day, an event open to all badgeholders. I can’t help but laugh at the fact that one of their high profile speakers is a man notorious for not speaking at all. This could be worth attending if just to witness the sheer, epic awkwardness of it all.
Check out the first video from Beyond, guest starring Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and also his daughter, Coco Moore (she’s the blonde girl on guitar and looks exactly like her parents) and directed by the Flamingo Kid himself, Matt Dillon.
Speaking of Sonic Youth, they’re been hard at work preparing the deluxe reissue of their seminal album Daydream Nation which will be out June 12 in a double CD or quadruple LP edition loaded with live, demo and unreleased material as bonus tracks. They’ll also be performing the album in its entirety as part of the ATP/Don’t Look Back series at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago on July 13. Lee Ranaldo talks to The Japan Times about revisiting their landmark album and their 25-year career in general while Daily Yomiuri talks to Thurston Moore about the No Wave scene in the 80s.
Harp gets Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino to play a little numerology with their new album 23 while The Ticker discusses said record with guitarist Amedeo Pace (though the piece also inexplicably declares Metric as a “western band(s) fronted by female Asian singer(s)” in its introduction. Yeahbuhwha?). Also head over to Uberdrivel who’s currently sharing MP3s of the band’s March 2004 session for KCRW.
PopMatters talks to Fountains Of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger about being a smart guy in a kind of goofy band while Harp gets him to sound off on the contents of their iPod. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 10.