Formed in Amherst, Massachusetts’ in 1984, Dinosaur Jr. was the brainchild of guitarist J. Mascis and bassist Lou Barlow, who had previously played together in High School. With the break-up of their first band ‘Deep Wound’ came a slew of lineup changes, before Mascis and Barlow were eventually joined by drummer Emmett “Murph” Murphy III. The trio went on to name themselves ‘Dinosaur’, and in 1985 recorded their debut, self-titled album for a modest $500. The bands ragged, unpredictable sound quickly gained notoriety throughout the New England region and by the release of their second album ‘You’re Living All Over Me’, the trio found themselves often touring with fellow alternative forerunners Sonic Youth. Apart from a growing fan base, the release of this album also brought with it a lawsuit from the super-group ‘The Dinosaurs’, who were displeased with the use of the name; this prompted the addition of “Jr.” The bands popularity continued to snowball through the late 80’s and into the early 90’s, and the group would go on to release 5 more full-length album’s before lineup difficulties eventually caused them to disband in 1997. However, much to the delight of fans across the nation, the group reunited in 2005, and has since released 3 more studio albums.
Taking this whirlwind, 28-year career into account, the release of “I Bet on Sky” on September 18th is truly a feat to be marveled at, as Dinosaur Jr. has done what so many other artists have failed to do— remain relevant. From the opening riff on, it becomes clear that the trio has remained true to their genre. Upbeat, heavily distorted guitar riffs tango with Barlow’s chunky, equally rapid bass lines, creating a seething cocktail that is both aggressive and catchy. Mascis has traded the gravely yelps of earlier releases for wispier, more mature refrains, which at times could be mistaken for a young Eddie Vetter, all the while supplying song after song with wailing guitar interludes. Stand out tracks include the album opener ‘Rude’, which will undoubtedly have any human being merrily tapping their feet, as well as the more somber ‘See It On Your Side’, which showcases Mascis’ ability as both a front-man and lead guitarist.