Dinosaur Jr – Farm

July 4, 2009

Lou Barlow, Murph, and J Mascis - Dinosaur Jr

Lou Barlow, Murph, and J Mascis - Dinosaur Jr

In the informative and highly entertaining chapter on Dinosaur Jr from his book, “Our Band Could be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991,” Michael Azerrad introduces the three band members as follows.

(J Mascis) “… grew up somewhat aloof and self-absorbed. All the furniture in his room was arranged to create a wall around his bed, and there he’d lie for hours, listening to music. Green plastic curtains covered the windows, suffusing the room with emerald light, and the floor was literally covered with stuffed animals and records.”

(Low Barlow) “… found it difficult to make a new set of friends. ‘I retreated into my room and that was it,’ he says, ‘I never came out.'”

(Murph) “… had some doubts about the group; a self-described ‘hippie-punk,’ he was pretty seriously into partying, something the straight edge Mascis and Barlow turned up their noses at. ‘They always thought I was a pot-smoking jerk,’ says Murph. ‘They totally had that righteous, fascist attitude. I used to laugh at them and say, “Wow, you guys are really uptight to be so secular in your thinking.”‘”

And after recounting many stories about the “creative differences” that plagued the band both before and immediately after its initial existence, Azerrad concludes by suggesting that if the original trio had not broken apart after the release of their third album, “Bug,” in 1988, they might have been the ones enjoying the fame and fortune that Nirvana won instead just a few years later.

Perhaps. After all, Dinosaur Jr were one of the first bands to combine elements of heavy metal and classic rock with punk.  And they also kind of always were a singles-oriented band, with “Little Fury Things,” “Freak Scene,” and so on. And though I don’t know how many records he actually sold or how much money he made off of it, Lou Barlow/Folk Implosion’s “Natural One” from the “Kids” soundtrack did turn into something of a radio hit in the mid-1990’s.

But I for one am glad it didn’t work out that way. Almost certainly, the story would have been different from Nirvana’s in any case. More likely, based on the stories that Azerrad tells, the band members would have killed each other, instead of killing themselves like Kurt Cobain did. Or they would just have lost their creative edge as they got older, richer, and more popular. Instead, they went their separate ways for a couple decades before coming back in 2007 with the excellent “Beyond” and now in 2009 with the even better “Farm.”

So, yeah: it’s true. “Farm” is as good as if not better than anything else Dinosaur Jr has ever released, save for 1987’s “You’re Living All Over Me,” and that’s only because “You’re Living All Over Me” is probably one of the 10 or 20 best lps of all time. Lou Barlow’s song, “Imagination Blind” is my personal favorite on this new one, but there is plenty to enjoy from J Mascis as well, including “Plans,” “See You,” and “I Want You to Know,” all of which have stars next to them in my notes. Long live Dinosaur Jr!

“I Want You to Know” is a free download from the Jagjaguwar website.

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