Back from extinction

Dinosaur Jr. are back, though I hadn't thought of them in years - sweet.

By AMI YARES
June 5, 2008 14:26
3 minute read.
Back from extinction

Dinosaur jr 224.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Dinosaur Jr. are back, though I hadn't thought of them in years. One of the forerunners to the alternative and grunge music scene of the 1990s, the band has reunited and begun touring in support of their new album. It isn't often that a band you love from your childhood gets back together to stage a show at an incredibly intimate venue. Just last year, during a visit to one of the few remaining independent music stores outside my hometown, I was pleasantly reminded of Dinosaur Jr. with the chance discovery of their year-old release, Beyond. Now they're playing two shows in Israel - sweet. Reaching adolescence in the early '90s put me on a crash course with the 'alternative' music scene led by Nirvana and Pearl Jam. At the time, I was a regular angst-ridden teenager, looking for loud and raucous ways to quell the fire of suburban boredom. I played guitar, wore flannel and grew my hair out. Somewhere between acquiring my first electric guitar and breaking a comb in the dense curls of my then untamed hair, I discovered Dinosaur Jr., and they were not your average alternative band. Like most '90s bands, they emerged out of the punk rock and heavy metal scene. This amalgamation of different styles popularized the band in the underground college music scene. They came at songwriting from a different angle and opted out of the loud, screamy vocals that characterized other '90s favorites such as Alice and Chains and Soundgarden. Rather, Dinosaur Jr. approached their music from a dense and heavy rhythmic core juxtaposed against a low, slightly shaken, but not stirred vocal line reminiscent of Neil Young. In most cases, it seemed as if Willy Nelson or Merle Haggard teamed up with the Ramones and Deep Purple, then bought an electric guitar and decided to rock out on stage. By the early '90s, Dinosaur Jr., already had a leg up on the more popular grunge bands. They formed in the early 1980s in the college town of Amherst, Massachusetts. Originally a quartet, the band became a trio, thrusting J. Mascis, guitarist and singer by virtue, into the line-up backed by Lou Barlow on bass and vocals (also a founding member of Sebadoh), and Murph (Emmit Patrick Murphy) on drums. Despite the early start of the band, however, they always seemed to stay on the sidelines, never achieving mainstream acclaim. But they certainly were not quiet sidelines. I fist saw Dinosaur Jr. at a renovated burlesque club in Philadelphia. I remember the haze and smoke of the room filled by myself and others, all mesmerized by the music. The concert was loud - real loud. The kind of loud that resonated not only in your body, but in your soul. It was a real physical experience. I remember being thrown back by the velocity of sound emanating from the towers of speakers framing the stage. In a brief telephone interview from Europe where the band is currently on tour, J. Mascis mentioned some concerns about amplification in the forthcoming Tel Aviv performances and quipped, "Oh, we need it!" Expect these shows to be loud! As for the future of the band, Mascis says, " We're taking one step at a time . . .it's going all right." Dinosaur Jr. strives to keep moving and maintain creativity while taking the whole process day by day. Moving beyond the past and into the future, it is time Dinosaur Jr. receives a little more attention for their musical offerings. If you are looking to relive those old days of flannel and torn jeans, come celebrate the return of Dinosaur Jr. While a mosh pit can't be guaranteed, I do expect an exceptional showing by one of the greats of the alternative and grunge music genre. Ami Yares is a local singer/songwriter who may be found performing with his band HOLLER! somewhere near you.


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