Friday, August 11, 2006

Dinosaur Jr.

J. Mascis Live at CBGB’s: The First Acoustic Show

In retrospect, the ‘90s weren’t a remarkable time for Dinosaur Jr. After Lou Barlow and Murph. exited the picture the group degraded into something of a classic rock mutant. Feedback, fuzz and ear-bleeding volume usurped the noisy and gut crunching punk/alt. rock gems of early albums, like Dinosaur, You’re Living All Over Me and Bug. Sure it still looked good on paper, and after all J Mascis did have a few good songs left in him. “The Wagon” from Green Mind and “Start Choppin” from Where You Been come to mind. But these truly great songs were growing fewer and farther between. J. Mascis Live at CBGB’s: The First Acoustic Show captures a Dinosaur of another color. The fog has been lifted, exposing the raw subtleties of songs like “Flying Cloud” and “Throw Down.”
Hearing these songs in such a jittery and naked state adds depth to Mascis’ normally murky and sunken din. There’s not much to hide behind as he strums and bellows through “Every Mother’s Son,” “On the Run” and “Repulsion.” As a result the aggressive façade that accompanies the melancholy of Dinosaur Jr.’s proper albums has melted away leaving nothing but earnestness and the naturally nerdy intonations of Mascis’ voice in full view. This first acoustic show offers an unfettered glimpse at the real songsmith hiding inside such a Jurassic sound, and an invitation to check out the man standing behind the curtain.

--Chad Radford

Published by Flagpole Magazine (8/8/06).