Sunday, August 7, 2016

Dinosaur Jr. -
“Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not”
Jesse E. Mullen

(Image: Dinosaur Jr./Jagjaguwar)

Note: I wanted to shake up the style of this review a bit. Consequently, it’s a bit bottom-heavy compared to what I normally write. (Yes, I am critiquing my critique.)

The original Dinosaur Jr. trio of J. Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph have done it again, with Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not, another masterpiece to go alongside You’re Living All Over Me, Bug, and 2007's excellent reunion record, Beyond as well as the albums featuring mostly J. doing his own thing (Green Mind, Where You Been, Hand It Over.) The songs focus on more of the mellow side of the band, with a good balance of loose jamming, and tight chemistry between the members (especially bassist Lou Barlow and Drummer/Drum performer Murph.) John Agnello’s crystal clear mix gives the songs a multi-dimensional feel, while still maintaining a live edge. Unlike the previous album I Bet On Sky, which had a sound based on keyboards, and meandering grooves, Give A Glimpse returns to the jangly, folkier song structures that give it the perfect sound for lazy summer afternoons, but also the loud guitars, and heavier sounds making it perfect for running up a mountain to. Standout tracks include the instantly catchy, rough but melodic "Tiny," the dark, minor key fingerpicked blues style track "Be A Part," the folky "Blowin' It" sequel "I Told Everyone" (it uses a similar riff, with a different rhythm figure, but I digress.), Lou's excellent folk ballad "Love Is..," The heaviest tune on the album "I Walk For Miles" with a pounding drumbeat, and mid-tempo off kilter riff, proving that J. Mascis is still the master of the guitar, all the while writing excellent drum beats. Rounding out the list of highlights are the wistful jangle-folk song "Lost All Day," which reaches a meditative state at the end with it's soothing repetition of the verse, and the slow, soft "Knocked Around" which has a quiet, mindful melody similar to Bob Dylan's "Most of the Time," until halfway through when it "ends," followed by it rapidly speeding up, and ending with one of J.'s signature solos. That, folks, is how it's done. I realize I've named over half of the album as highlights here, and there's a good reason for that; the entire thing is near perfection, and choosing highlights was nearly impossible. Buy it as soon as possible. I've already bought it on three different formats. Dedication, or craziness? You decide

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Song Review:
Lush - Out Of Control
Jesse E. Mullen

Lush, the popular shoegazing group formed in 1987 in Camden Town, London are back, following a 20 year break up, after the untimely death of drummer Chris Acland. They have announced a UK/US tour, and have a brand new EP out April 15th, the first single of which, "Out of Control" is nothing short of astounding. Emma Anderson’s swirling, heavily delayed guitar is instantly recognizable like none other, and when Miki Berenyi’s wise, comforting voice comes in, shoegazers the world over no doubt tear up.
The great thing about "Out of Control" is that it takes the lyrical themes of "Lit Up" (one of Anderson's classic compositions), and updates them from the perspective of a parent. Part of what makes Anderson’s songs with Lush so emotionally moving to so many, is that she writes lyrics that are incredibly relatable for those who are on the fringes, or feel like an outsider. She seems to empathize with the listener in a way that few artists attempt to, particularly towards young people finding their way in life. And Berenyi’s great strength, besides her own more acerbic style of songwriting wit, is to take Emma’s songs and give them breathtaking vocal performances. Out of Control has all the hallmarks of classic Lush, yet it also sounds like a song that the band couldn’t have made the first time around. The song seems to be passing on a wisdom, that only comes with age, and can’t fully be understood until one reaches that point. There is also a sense of mortality that hangs in the air, and an understanding that life can be short. Out of Control is deeply moving, and will no doubt whip the next generation of guitar bands back into shape.