Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Middle Child

Dinosaur Jr
Without A Sound

Michael Schumacher won so many F1 races that they seem to run together. Feats of motorsport which would be the highlight of a lesser pilot’s career are forgotten in the string of a dozen years of incredible drives. From Belgium ’92, to Italy ’06, who can remember them all? How about in Indianapolis 2003, when he blitzed through a rain-soaked field (in front of a rain-soaked Cangrejero) to secure his 6th World Championship? 7 wins in Canada and France. 2nd place in Spain with only 5th gear? 1st place in Austria after his Ferrari caught fire. It’s easy to lose track and see his career as a giant blur of prosperity, individual accomplishments being overlooked for the whole.

After the departure of Lou Barlow, J Mascis’ Dinosaur Jr became pretty much a solo project. Mascis compiled a string of solid releases, much like Schumacher compiled victories. 1994’s Hand It Over was effectively Mascis’ first solo album, as he wrote and performed all of the songs nearly single-handedly. In the year of Schumacher’s controversial first world championship, Mascis released an album which was undeniably Mascis. I doubt any guitar beyond his iconic Fender Jazzmaster was used. This is an album filled with tremolo and fuzzy feedback on every number. The extended solos first seen in the previous years’ Where You Been are back, and tighter than in that classic release. Musically and lyrically, the ideas first explored in that album are expanded on here and brought to their natural conclusion. Mascis seems as comfortable as ever with his vocal range, and his singing seems like an integral part of the music, and not an additional layer conspicuous in its high pitch.

Without A Sound wasn’t the best album from Dinosaur Jr’s career, but it may have been the most indicative of what made their sound so great.

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