by Weston Cutter
Here’s what the average listener knows about post-grunge outfit Dinosaur, Jr.: 1.) their only big single, despite a career spanning over two decades, was 1994’s “Feel the Pain, and 2.) that the video for this song was exceptionally cool; it featured the band, decked out in turn-of-the-century golf apparel, putting their way across New York City. What most people don’t realize about the band, however, is that singer/songwriter J. Mascis is an amazing guitar player—a fact made clear on the band’s latest release Farm. Maintaining the crunchy, loud, indie aesthetic that the band has honed over the past twenty years, the album strikes a balance somewhere between hook-heavy power pop and jam band solo showcase—this latter from Mascis’ skillful yet often longwinded solos, which don’t add the depth that the band was probably hoping for (and in some cases, like the eight-minute “I Don’t Wanna Go There,” become just flat-out annoying), but do offer a melodic counterbalance to the thick layers of distortion and feedback and cymbals.
While all of the songs on the album are “good,” inasmuch as they don’t all out suck, none of them are especially memorable. And in a weird way, this seems almost intentional: like most of their indie/grunge peers, Dinosaur, Jr. is much less interested in establishing any sort of musical legacy and much more interested in contributing to an already extensive catalogue of catchy guitar-driven songs that consciously refuse to lend themselves to any sort of in-depth analysis (I guess this is one of the larger lessons borne out of Seattle in the early nineties: music doesn’t have to have staying power in order to be good, and in fact sometimes this is even preferable). Farm is raucous and sharp and, above all, fun in an uncomplicated sort of way. It offers few surprises in terms of originality or craft, but it’s sure to satisfy those looking for a solid rock album that sounds better the louder you play it.
(A note: this is by Jeremy Griffin, a hell of a writer who lives in Virginia)