Artist: Dinosaur Jr.
Due Out: June 23rd
Who would have thought that after all of this time, Dinosaur Jr. could still be this good? Not only that, but then actually produce an album that shows change, growth and even a newfound youthfulness. Amongst the things we'll talk about here on this blog, Farm is one of the hardest hitting, yet enjoyable you'll see. As a fan of a lot of their older material from the 80s, I was truly baffled by the explosion of sound I heard here. So much raw, building energy, driving melodies and action here, you'd think that J Mascis was in his 20s instead of his 40s. Still, he, just like the band, delivers on a level you'd assume difficult at this point in their overall careers. I'll start off by saying that my hopes going into Farm were met and then some on this truly entertaining record.
"Pieces" starts us off right away on the high-powered train ride through open roads and miles of landscape ahead. Farm may apply very well as a title here, as does the album artwork, as it probably describes the physical attributes of the album better than many other words could. If you're planning on taking a long trip through the country, I'd highly recommend throwing this one in immediately. Nothing's mechanical, but instead, loose, as soaring guitar solos permeate the scenery not just here, but on many of the tracks. "I Want You To Know" continues the electric feel, exploding into fits of ecstasy and in my mind, capturing the essence of what this venture's all about. People have been raving about this one, myself included, and in the album format, it did not disappoint whatsoever. Just listen for the solo. Next, "Ocean In the Way" feels like its moving a large landmass, slowly and steadily, but with an equal amount of force to the previous tracks. We're given a minute or so to recover from yet another solo as "Plans" begins. At first appearing more subdued than its counterparts, the listener quickly realizes that this is not at all the case, and that we are actually in for yet another barn-burner, this time of the almost seven-minute variety. It's one of the album's better musical moments, with several different interludes previewing the varieties and textures to come.
"Your Weather" starts off with a bit less of the jubilation that precedes it. Actually, to be honest, it sounds like Interpol, which is strange. Still, the slight change in scenery allows for us to stop and look around for a bit, really beginning to appreciate the towering edifice being erected around us. Then, "Over It" jumps in rather quickly and abruptly- guitar squeals abound- throwing us back into the up-tempo salad shaker we thought we may have exited earlier. The video exudes the life that album literally bleeds, with a bunch of 40 year-olds skateboarding as only they could. "Friends" is similarly punchy track, but in a very opposite fashion to the previous track. Instead of being "over it" so to speak, the song is now actively searching for companions, or rather, a certain companion. As the solo jumps along, you can't help but get completely enthralled in the song, as is the case with nearly every selection. I've never been one for solos, to be honest, but what we see here is so joyous and genuine, I can't help but enjoy. Once again, for those doing a little too much bouncing around, "Said the People" drags back down to Earth, albeit temporarily. Still, even with a somber tone, there's quite a bit going on that may peak your interest, especially at the halfway mark.
If you've recovered from the almost eight-minute rock opera, you're probably ready for "There's No Here," though there's absolutely no downtime to be found. The song literally hits you in the face at the onset, and proceeds to do so yet again every 20 seconds or so. Next, "See You" takes brightness beyond what we've witnessed to this point, and is, in essence, a pop track. Once again, the change doesn't take anything away from it- it's more of a reflection on what's happened thus far, and perhaps a look into what's left to be seen. The album's longest track, "I Don't Wanna Go There," seems to address what's left, or rather, refuses to. Mascis suddenly sounds like a man who's seen it all, and maybe he has, but the wear finally seems apparent here. What we're looking at here is an explosion of all the pent-up energy from the album (I know, you're wondering how that was even possible). Still, this is the breaking point, as made extremely obvious during a five-plus minute jaunt into metal solo land. Finally, "Imagination Blind" leaves us off on a note that is more of a period than an exclamation point. Reflecting on what has happened, it calmly (?) leads the way out of what was Farm, and onto the next step, which will most likely be hitting 'repeat' for the listener.
There have been a ton of very good records this year, but only a few which stand head and shoulders above their counterparts. Somehow, after all these years, Dinosaur Jr.'s latest effort, Farm, is one of those chosen few. They're the same, yet different. Rarely do you see this type of progression and dare I say, maturity, from a band with this amount of history, but somehow, they've accomplished becoming the hip new thing, 20 years after accomplishing the feat the first time. If every band was like these guys, perhaps I wouldn't detest hearing anything by The Rolling Stones and U2 so much. Regardless, this is one of the essential records for your consumption this year, and though you may not have heard it here first, you did hear it here, so that has to count for something. Right? Similarities include Built to Spill, Pixies and My Bloody Valentine.
Best Track: "I Want You To Know" (download courtesy of AOL Radio)