From Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not, out now on Jagjaguwar.
Oh man, how did I miss a new Dinosaur Jr album? I guess it’s not that new since it came out a whole year ago. Oh well, better late than never. I’ve dug the last couple of J Mascis solo albums, and this song starts out kinda pretty like that. But stick around because two and a half minutes in, it turns into a classic Dinosaur Jr basher, complete with a classic Mascis guitar solo. (It’s almost impossible to avoid the rockcrit cliche “blistering” when describing a Dinosaur Jr guitar solo. Sorry. I tried.)
Anyway, I’m so thankful that J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph continue to make loud rock and roll together. They’re the exception to the rule that band reunions all huff dongs. Dinosaur Jr is as good as ever.
Dinosaur Jr plays Riot Fest at 6:35 PM on Sunday, September 17.
Over on NPR’s Monitor Mix Blog, Carrie Brownstein rounds up a bunch of people who run indie labels and gets them to talk about how the role of the record label has changed over the past decade. It’s a fascinating conversation that touches on everything from iTunes to filesharing to artist development to vinyl to Pitchfork to licensing… Here’s my favorite part:
Chris Swanson (Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian): Are many of you guys having luck making money on singles? Or is it primarily an artist-development tool? Maggie Vail (Kill Rock Stars): Singles for us are always about development. Portia Sabin (Kill Rock Stars): A weird thing for us is that, no matter what song off an album we give away as a free MP3, that song is always the most-purchased song off that album. Robb Nansel (Saddle Creek): Same here, Portia. Gerard Cosloy (Matador): Same thing happens to us. Darius Van Arman (Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian): We have the exact same experience. Mac McCaughan (Merge): That’s “the single” to people. Robb Nansel (Saddle Creek): So we should just all give away all of our albums! Carrie Brownstein (NPR): Problem solved! Maggie Vail (Kill Rock Stars): We do; we can’t help it.
The funny thing is that we’re noticed that same trend even on our small scale with Glorious Noise Records. The songs we give away for free are consistently the ones that sell the most via iTunes and emusic. (Well, that was true anyway until Riviera‘s “Golden Lies” was used in an episode of a show on A&E. Since July, we sold over 60 copies of that song via iTunes alone, which is about ten times more than any other song we’ve released.)
Awesome new video from Farm, due June 23 on Jagjaguwar. This tiny little version we’re embedding here hardly does it justice as it’s shot in HD and look great when you make it huge. Directed by Mark Locke, and it’s cool that they give credit to skate double Kyle Leeper and bike doubles Kenny Horton and Joel Barnett. Watch for the cameo by the unstoppable Mike Watt.
The start of my idea for the video came when I saw a picture of J for the first time in ages and I couldn’t believe his white hair. It just really freaked me out…and got me thinking about how my heroes were aging with the rest of us. So I thought: At what point are you supposed to be over doing stuff that you enjoy– like skating or playing ear-splitting music– just because society says it’s uncool to do it? My answer: Never.
Also: J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph recently did a Daytrotter session where they played a couple old tracks from Dinosaur and a couple from 2007’s Beyond.
“Hey, you’re the one who’d know / Stay with me, I can’t let it go / Hey, you put it in my head / Stay and see, you know what you said.” I don’t know what it is about J Mascis‘ voice, but he manages to conjure up all the feelings of being young and insecure and nervous and excited and smartassed and lazy… I guess he just sounds like college to me. His voice is like sunshine filtered through sheer curtains and cigarette smoke.
I got a chance to see Okkervil River last year during the tour for The Stage Names. It was in a dingy club and there may have been a little over than a hundred patrons there that evening.
“We’re starting off with our best foot forward, ladies and gentlemen.”
And with that proclamation, Will Sheff led the band off into a great rendition of “Plus Ones.” Throughout the evening Sheff strummed away on a ratty acoustic guitar and looked every bit the tortured artist that The Stage Names and its more recent companion album The Stand Ins lyrically alludes to.
File this one under it’s never too late to give an album a fair shake if you really believe is worth spreading the word about it’s worth. Simon Joyner’s Lost With The Lights On came out in the middle of 2004 but didn’t register on my radar. And judging by the fact that songs from the album haven’t left my ears since I picked it up over two weeks ago, I suppose I’m trying to make up for lost time.
Joyner belongs to the same school that claims Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Will Oldham and Smog’s Bill Callahan. He’s a brooding troubadour with down beat songs from the quiet fringes of society. Snapshots of love surrendered and a yearning for redemption play out over subdued arrangements with pensive lyrics. Joyner croons on “Happy Woman” (mp3), “The archway is broad enough for two / But it holds one with plenty of breathing room / The highway is narrow, but never ending / You can’t get comfortable, but it’s forgiving.”
Moments of rebirth and resolve are found in the chorus of “Birds Of Spring”: “Hallelujah to the heart that burns / That breaks and heals and never learns.” The most telling insight of Joyner struggling with his own demons can be found in “Blue” (mp3): “It’s not so easy said the rain / You want the wound without the pain / To be forgiven but not betrayed / To stand naked and unashamed.”
It’s one of those albums that you turn to in moments of quiet reflection. Not for answers, but for a sense of camaraderie. Just to take solace that you’re not alone and that there is meaning with every wound endured.